Mayor de Blasio and schools Chancellor Richard Carranza both said last week that there’s no way they’d embrace forced busing to desegregate the city’s schools. That’s fine — but what will they do if their policies they’re already pushing don’t do the trick?
For that matter, is desegregation even likely to achieve the real goal, which is to provide a decent education to lower-income kids, especially the black and Latino ones whom the “diversity” drive is supposed to help?
The desegregation push is now focused on middle schools, with District 3 on the Upper West Side leading the way, followed by District 15 in Park Slope, Red Hook and Sunset Park in Brooklyn. The idea is that setting socioeconomic quotas for middle-school admission will bring more black and Hispanic children into the higher-performing schools, equalizing opportunity.
Plenty can go wrong. For starters, those quotas might not bring integration after all. Consider the Discovery program, which aims to boost minority entry into the city’s top high schools: For decades, it has targeted lower-income kids whose scores fall just short on the race-blind exam for entry to Stuyvesant, Bronx Science and other “specialized” schools, providing summer classes and other support to help them close the gap. The city reserves seats at the elite high schools for the programs’ grads.
But, as NY1 reported recently, “75 percent of the 250 students who were in the Discovery program this summer were white or Asian” — 64 percent Asian, in fact.
Limiting entry to kids who qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches didn’t bring the affirmative-action results that de Blasio and Carranza want. So they mean to change the rules to target students from high-poverty middle schools, even as they enlarge the number of seats set aside for Discovery graduates.
Left unsaid is that this will mean dropping standards, from kids who fell just a few points short of passing the exam to include ones who fell significantly short. Will these students be adequately prepared for Brooklyn Tech and the other tough schools?
The draft District 15 middle-school desegregation plan simply does away with admission “screens”: Bad grades, poor attendance and so on won’t matter; 52 percent of seats are still reserved for low-income kids, English-language learners, etc.
Are Brooklyn parents complaining? Carranza last Tuesday vowed to OK the plan within 48 hours. Then the mayor on Wednesday pushed the decision to merely sometime “this month,” and Carranza kept quiet.
Even minority parents doubt the desegregation drive will help most of their children. We heartily endorse the demand from the Parenting While Black writer on the opposite page for “an education policy that focuses on addressing the barriers to equitable education that create racially disparate outcomes on [the specialized high-school exam] and in every other academic metric, from 3K-12.”
The Renewal program, de Blasio’s chief effort to improve bad schools, has delivered pitiful results at great expense. The main recent progress in improving public-school results for black and Hispanic kids has come from charters — schools the mayor doesn’t control and doesn’t much like.
New York City doesn’t need ham-handed and risky efforts to change the ethnic mix at its better schools — it needs far more good schools for all families. But that requires radical change that our “progressive” mayor doesn’t dare embrace.
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