City council members on Wednesday grilled education department officials on school segregation at a joint hearing of the Education Committee and Civil and Human Rights Committee.
The sharp questions and answer session took place just weeks before the 65th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision.
The atmosphere was a stark departure from just five years ago, when council members questioned education department officials about diversity issues in a school system that remains among the most segregated in the country.
Manhattan Councilwoman Margaret Chin called for reevaluating the admissions policy but said the city has an obligation to showcase other great high schools and improve lagging schools.
“We have to make sure all our high schools also have specialized programs in there that attract students. They’ll stay in the neighborhood, don’t have to travel a
couplehours to go to a high school,” Chin said.
Advocates of the chancellor’s plan say changing the admissions policy for specialized high schools would also help diversify some city neighborhoods because families would want to give their children the best shot at being in the top percent of their
Yet alumni have struggled to raise an endowment like those at other top U.S. schools. The closest was an effort begun in 1999, called Campaign for Stuyvesant, that over the years managed to raise about $4.5 million, on its way to a $12 million goal.
It never made it. Today, all that’s left is about $330,000. Alumni, including members of a group called Concerned Stuyvesant Alumni, want to know where it went.
In 2016 Mayor de Blasio tried a variety of approaches to get more Black and Latinx students into specialized high schools. This included tutoring and outreach costing $15M over 5 years.
None of these initiatives worked in the end. One reason for this is that city tutoring would end up competing with an increasingly aggressive private tutoring industry. NYC’s DREAM tutoring claimed a 10% success rate, but so did the larger tutoring services with thousands of students.
“In my district, many parents pay top dollar for test prep programs, an option lower income families do not always have.
n a city where residential patterns have made the student bodies of nearly half the public schools predominantly nonwhite, the effective integration of the special schools, and the maintenance of their high academic standards, should be cause for celebration, not condemnation. The Office of Civil Rights may not realize that, racial issues aside, the special schools have been under recurrent attack from those who abhor Jefferson’s “aristocracy of talent” as an affront to egalitarianism. They are dangerously wrong. New York’s special schools are not an aberration but the guiding beacons of public education.