Wallack Declaration – Christa McAuliffe I.S 187 vs NYC

Case 1:18-cv-11657-ER Document 50 Filed 01/17/19

Some interesting sections from the full declaration.

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Deputy Chancellor for Early Childhood Education and Student Enrollment in the New York City Department of Education (“DOE”). As such, the DOE Office of Student Enrollment, which among other things is responsible for enrollment in the Specialized High Schools, reports to me

The Chancellor, the decision-making group, and I were in no way motivated by a desire to harm Asian-American students or to limit the enrollment of Asian American students in the eight Specialized High Schools. Instead, the Chancellor, the decision making group, and I were trying to increase the ethnic, racial, geographic, and socio-economic diversity of the student bodies of those high schools, which we believe will be beneficial to all students enrolled in those schools

The Specialized High Schools have consistently provided rigorous instruction to academically gifted students in a challenging environment

Specialized high schools should not be referred to as “Gifted and Talented” or schools for the “academically gifted”. These schools do not measure or seek to measure “giftedness”.

It is my understanding that in the late 1960s, the Specialized High Schools were offering admission based upon the scores of an entrance examination and a Discovery Program that extended offers of admission to disadvantaged students who showed potential for success at the Specialized High Schools.

In 1977, New York enacted legislation, the Hecht-Calandra Act, to codify the requirement that a competitive achievement examination be the main criterion for admission to the Specialized High Schools but expressly provided for a Discovery Program that was unlimited in size to admit disadvantaged students with great potential to the Specialized High Schools.

See Laws of 1971, chap.1212, Roberts Dec. at Ex. 1 (Dkt. no. 48-1)

Enactment of the Hecht-Calandra Act did not end debate about the
fairness of the use of a single test for admission to the Specialized High Schools. ln 1977 the federal Office of Civil Rights opened an investigation into whether the single test as an admission standard constituted a form of discrimination against members of minority groups and females. See Marcia Chambers, U.S. Inquiry Into Bias Is Opposed At Prestigious New York Schools, N.Y. TIMES, November 7, 1971, available at
https://www.nytimes.com/1977/11/07/archives/us-inquiry-into-bias-is-opposed-at-prestigious-new-york-schools-us.html (last visited January 12,2019). According to that news article, Board of Education data from the 1975-1976 school year showed that 23 percent of the students then enrolled at the Specialized High Schools were African-American, 9 percent Latino, l2 percent Asian-Arnerican, and 56 percent White. The Board of Education and the Office of Civil Rights reached an agreement that did not change the admissions criteria. See Ari Goldman, On The
Right Track, N.Y. TIMES, June 77, 1978, available at
https://www.nytimes.com/1978/06/17/archives/on-the-right-track.html (last visited .Ianuary 12, 2019)

Despite all these efforts to increase diversity, only 30 of the approximately 650 intermediate schools provided 50% of the students admitted to the Specialized High Schools, and the combined percentage of African-American and Latino students enrolled in the Specialized High Schools continued to decline

The ENI is a measure of economic need that DOE has created and which it utilizes in many contexts to measure economic disadvantage. DOE has found the ENI to be a more effective measure of economic disadvantage in many contexts than other measures of poverty. A school’s ENI estimates the percentage of students facing economic hardship and is based upon the average of the Economic Need Values (“ENV”) of the students attending the school.

The gradual expansion of the Discovery Program and the use of the current criteria are race-neutral policies that make no school assignments based upon race and are designed to more effectively identify disadvantaged students than the old criteria, because the
current criteria place an emphasis. upon schools with high ENI scores, while also seeking to advance geographic, socio-economic, racial and ethnic diversity. Students who are both from low-income families and attending schools that have students with higher economic hardship
face more disadvantages than students w1ro are from low-income families but attend schools with higher-income students. See, https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/05/20/is-segregation-back-in-us-public-schools/integrating-rich-and-poor-matters-most.

In addition, the ENI factor, more than the previously used Title I measure allows for a more specific assessment of the level of economic hardship at a school. because the ENI factor is on a scale and because the chosen threshold is 0.60 or greater, which includes approximately 50oh of the intermediate schools. (A Title I school is defined by the federal Title I statutory scheme. which provides that at least40Yo of families must be low-income for the school to be eligible for remedial education assistance through Title I. In New York City, more than 50% of the intermediate schools meet the Title I standard.) In other words, using the ENI factor and a 0.60 threshold allows DOE to more precisely target schools where the majority of students are facing economic hardship and the disadvantages that accompany it. The fact that many of the schools with an ENI of 0.60 or above have recently not sent students to the eight Specialized High Schools further speaks to the level of disadvantage these students face. The gradual expansion of the Discovery Program is designed to increase the diversity of the Specialized High
School across these dimensions – racial, ethnic, geographic and socio-economic – in an orderly fashion, while ensuring that the scholastic achievement of the student bodies at the Specialized High Schools will remain excellent.

Moreover, I note that there are many Asian-American students in the intermediate schools with ENIs of 0.60 or greater. I understand that for the class admitted in September 2018, of the students offered admission to a Specialized High School from an intermediate school with an ENI of 0.60 or greater, 70% were Asian-American, and that this constituted 1,060 Asian-American students

Indeed, it was projected that the total enrollment of
Asian-American students in the eight Specialized High Schools would decline by approximately 2.1%, from 53% to 50.9%. The total enrollment of students whose race or ethnicity was unknown to DOE would decline by approximately 1.2%, from 9% to 7.8%. And the total enrollment of White students would decline by approximately 2.5%, from 27.2% to 24.7%.