In answering critics of his efforts on school integration, Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, has largely blamed New York City’s residential patterns for the problem, because most children go to elementary school near their homes.
But District 1, which includes parts of the Lower East Side and the East Village, is different. There, families choose where their children will go to elementary school, and in 2016, 84 percent of families got one of their top three choices for kindergarten.
But their choices still added up to segregation.
Though the elementary school population is roughly half Hispanic, with the other 50 percent close to evenly divided among black, white and Asian children, few schools reflect that distribution. White families largely cluster in a handful of schools with a progressive bent. A school with a Mandarin-English dual language program is 71 percent Asian. At four of the district’s 16 elementary schools, at least 90 percent of the students are black or Hispanic. Those schools lag far behind the district average in performance.
A group of educators and parent leaders have been pushing the city’s Education Department to let the district adopt a system called “controlled choice,” which takes into account families’ preferences, but also factors like socioeconomic status, with the goal of making each school reflect the demographics of the district. In 2015 District 1 got a federal grant to develop a new admissions policy, but work appears to have stalled, in part because of clashes between parent leaders, who want quick action, and city officials, who have been taking a more cautious approach.
Sign Up For the Morning Briefing Newsletter
In the diversity plan released by the city on Tuesday, the department says it will work with District 1 to create “a districtwide equitable admissions model” in time for the 2018-19 school year.
Some in District 1, like Naomi Peña, 37, a parent who is a member of the district’s Community Education Council, think the department has been afraid of alienating rich white parents who, as she said at a recent council meeting, might “lawyer up” if their preferences were blocked.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment