The school segregation has been considered for many years one of the main moles of the educational system in New York City, the largest in the entire country, with 1.1 million students and more of 1,800 schools. Activists, parents and even the head of the Education deparment, Richard Carranza, have publicly denounced time and again the differential treatment, in terms of resources and programs that New York students receive, often depending on the zip code in which they live.
But the recent announcement made by the City about the implementation of a series of changes in admission processes in hundreds of public middle and high schools, in order to close the gap, it has given a glimmer of hope among immigrant parents like Aracely San Miguel.
The Colombian mother, who has a child in the seventh grade, received with great enthusiasm the announcement of the Mayor Bill de Blasio Failing Assessment Based Only on Academic Merit to Enter Selective Middle Schools: Decision that will be standing for at least a year.
“It seems to me that it is a good first step to end the different treatment that schools have with our children, because many times Latino children want to apply to more select schools and not only are there demands that are difficult to meet, but they also show that Latino children are not as intelligent as others, such as Asians, and that is not true, “he said the mother of the family. “I believe that all children regardless of race are intelligent, but they develop their abilities depending on the study plans, dedication, the quality of teachers and even the elements and resources that are in each school.”
The Mayor acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on the school system during 2020, which could have affected students’ school results, so it would not be fair to depend only on grades, attendance reports and exams to apply to high schools. performance. Therefore it has been mentioned the use of lotteries when schools report higher numbers of students requesting seats than available seats.
For middle schools, academic filters will not be used in the admissions process, but may give priority to students who live within the school district where the establishment is located. The students They can apply to middle schools from January 11.
The so-called Specialized High School Admission Test, the criterion used for admission to the most prestigious public schools such as Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech and Bronx Science will remain in effect.
In the case of secondary schools, the academic filters will remain, but the report cards for the current year will not be used, since due to the pandemic, public schools did not give grades last year or state tests were applied. For this, the reports from the previous year will be used: sixth grade instead of seventh.
For specialized arts schools, which require a special audition, there will be a virtual admission test.
Juan Solorio, who has his 12-year-old daughter in a Long Island City middle school, said he was not very aware of the changes announced by school authorities, but upon learning of the City’s plans, he was not very optimistic about the immediate results. that they could mean.
“I think it’s good that they’re looking for more ways for the highest rated schools to actually have kids of all races and backgrounds, because the truth in this city If you study in a white neighborhood it is not the same as studying in Corona, and that proves segregation and it is also discrimination against our children, ”said the immigrant. “But I don’t think that those treatments that they give us to blacks and Hispanics, who are the poorest, are going to change overnight. I would like by law to order percentages of children in schools and to invest equally in all. That would work better. “
I know estimates that 41% of students in New York schools are Hispanic, 26% are black, he 16% are Asian and the 15% are white.
And about the changes on the horizon, the Minister of Education himself not only said that they are common sense, but he was optimistic that it will help curb segregation.
“These changes will help ensure that our classrooms reflect the great diversity that New York City is, and it is also a true representation of the values we hold dear as a city: that equity, inclusion and excellence for all children are the cornerstone of what we do ”, Carranza stated.
“I believe these changes will improve justice and equity. But they will also make the process simpler and fairer, particularly given what we’re dealing with this year, ”he said. De Blasio.
The concilor Ydanis Rodriguez welcomes the news to come, but warns that if background transformations are not made, things will not be honey on flakes.
“The City is taking a step forward by moving in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go to create equal conditions so that all the children of the city, including Latino children, have the same opportunities to enter schools. that have more services and resources, and that most have been in middle-class neighborhoods, with barriers that prevent children from entering in poor economic conditions, “he said. the political leader of Upper Manhattan. “But until we have the same conditions for all children in the city from the moment they are born in the poorest postal areas have the same conditions, we will continue to have the most segregated school system in the country, which is not acceptable.”
Another of the changes announced by the City is the elimination of geographic priorities for school admissions from 2021.
It should be remembered that despite the changes there will be elite schools that can continue to evaluate students academically for admission, but the Administration De Blasio called on them to modify that pattern.
Despite the turn in this matter, and the defense of the idea of changes as a good route towards the end of segregation, there are opposing voices.
“Equity and excellence can and should be pursued simultaneously; there should not be an exchange between the two, “said the state senator John Liu, chairman of the state Senate Education committee.
Leonie haimson, director of the organization Class Size Matters, which safeguards the rights of disadvantaged students to have less crowded classrooms in favor of better educational quality and fights against segregation, applauded the changes in middle schools, but insisted that they must be done in parallel with the reduction in size of the classes.
“The proposed changes at the middle school level make a lot of sense, especially since there are no grades or state test scores, and this will help integrate our schools, both economically and racially,” said the activist. “However, to help teachers meet the needs of students of different backgrounds and academic levels, DOE really should cut class sizes, which is the best equalizer ever invented ”.
Nonetheless, Haimson criticized that in secondary schools there are not really substantial changes.
“High school admissions changes won’t do muchas high schools will be allowed to maintain their assessment methods, ”said the student advocate. “I am concerned that removing all geographic priorities will result in even more students spending hours traveling to and from school, which research shows negatively affects attendance and learning.”
NY schools in numbers
- 1.1 million students are in schools in the Big Apple
- There are 1,800 schools in all five boroughs
- 41% of students are Hispanic
- 26% are black
- 16% are Asian
- 15% are white