Mayor de Blasio Schools And Others Announce Adoption Of School Diversity Advisory Group Recommendations

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza today announced that the City will adopt the vast majority of the preliminary recommendations made by the School Diversity Advisory Group (SDAG). SDAG is a group of students, educators, parents, advocates and researchers appointed in 2017 to advise the Mayor and Chancellor on policies to advance school diversity and integration. The DOE plans to adopt 62 of the 67 recommendations as written or with minor changes to ensure effective implementation.

The administration also announced that Districts 9, 13, 16, 28 and 31 will be the first districts to receive funding as part of the $2 million school diversity grant program to develop their own community-driven school diversity and integration plans. The City announced the grant in fall 2018, with the community-driven middle school diversity plan in District 15 as a model.

“There’s no one who knows better how to diversify our school system than our students, parents and teachers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Accepting the School Diversity Advisory Group’s recommendations and awarding diversity grants to five new school districts are crucial steps forward toward ensuring that every student, no matter their zip code, has access to a school where they can thrive, and a natural next step for our Equity and Excellence agenda.”

“Today we’re adopting changes that will expand opportunity for all students and ensure our school system better reflects the diversity of New York City,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “This set of recommendations affects every facet of our organization and furthers our commitment to equity. The School Diversity Advisory Group has been a critical partner in the effort to integrate our schools, and I thank the group for its steadfast commitment to equity. I look forward to continuing this partnership and reviewing the group’s second report later this year.”

“As the Executive Committee of the SDAG, we applaud Mayor De Blasio and Chancellor Carranza for their historic announcement to lead the nation in supporting schools to be the vibrant, challenging and inclusive places they must be to build a bright future for all our students. We applaud their leadership and their partnership. This has only been possible because the SDAG is itself a reflection of who we are as New Yorkers and has modeled how we can work together across different backgrounds, experiences and vantage points to produce holistic recommendations to build the kind of education research has shown improve outcomes for all our children,” said Members of the Executive Committee of the School Diversity Advisory Group: José Calderón, President, Hispanic Federation; Maya Wiley, chair of Civilian Complaint Review Board and Professor of Urban Policy and Management at the New School; Richard Kahlenberg, Senior Fellow at the Century Foundation; and Amy Hsin, Associate Professor at Queens College.

School Diversity Advisory Group

The SDAG was established in June 2017 as part of the DOE’s first citywide diversity plan, “Equity and Excellence for All: Diversity in New York City Public Schools,” and is comprised of over 40 members, including local and national experts on school diversity, parents, teachers, advocates, students and other community leaders. Beginning in late 2017, the SDAG and its subcommittees held nearly 40 meetings to facilitate research and discussion of a number of key policy areas related to diversity. The SDAG hosted eight public town halls, including one in every borough across New York City and two specifically for youth, in order to collect quantitative and qualitative data from communities on the issues important to them.

The SDAG released its preliminary report in February and intends to release a final report in the coming weeks. The preliminary report laid out the history, data and key issues surrounding school diversity and integration in New York City, as well as an initial set of 67 recommendations on school enrollment, budget priorities, restorative justice practices, staff diversity, culturally responsive curriculum and diversity metrics and goals, among other topics. The Mayor and Chancellor met with the SDAG on May 13 to discuss the initial report.

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Of the 62 recommendations the DOE will adopt, 40 will be adopted outright from the report. The DOE made changes to the other 22 adopted recommendations to ensure effective implementation; for example, the DOE is tweaking the recommendation “invest in growing and strengthening high-performing schools outside Manhattan” to “invest in growing and strengthening high-performing schools in communities with historic underinvestment.” The DOE will continue to identify the resources necessary to implement these recommendations over the coming months.

Key adopted recommendations include:

  • Add metrics to the School Quality Report related to diversity and integration;
    Create a General Assembly with representatives from every high school to develop a citywide student agenda and vote on key issues;
  • Require all schools to monitor student discipline practices and develop a plan to reduce any disparities in how students are disciplined;
  • Create new diversity targets for Diversity in Admissions pilots based on the specific circumstances of each school community;
  • Expand Community Schools initiative and other models that connect schools to community-based organizations;
  • Examine Title I and its relationship to integration;
  • Adopt a common definition of Culturally Relevant Education (CRE) that will inform and shape work across the DOE;
  • Create partnerships with institutions of higher education to ensure CRE is an essential component of all pre-service teacher training efforts;

Strongly support and encourage the nine districts with sufficient demographic diversity of population to develop diversity and integration plans (Districts 1, 2, 3, 13, 15, 22, 27, 28, 31). Three of these districts are receiving funding for community-driven diversity and integration plans today.

There are three recommendations that the DOE will continue to review, and two that we will not adopt – the recommendations to create a “Chief Integration Officer” position, and analyze the benefits and drawbacks of moving School Safety Agents to DOE supervision from the NYPD.

A full list of the SDAG recommendations, along with any changes by the DOE, can be found online.

District diversity grants

The five districts receiving grant funding put forward compelling ideas that demonstrated their commitment to community-driven processes to increase diversity, integration and equity across their schools. The $2 million will primarily be used to support community planning processes similar to District 15, including engaging community planning firms with expertise in this work, selecting and developing working groups, hosting community meetings and developing a final proposal. Each district will receive $200,000.

The application process ran through the winter and spring of 2019 and incorporated feedback from the SDAG in its design. The DOE received 17 applications, and offices from across the DOE weighed in on the selection process. The DOE will also support another five districts through the grant, to be announced later in 2019.

These districts will work with their community and the DOE as they develop these broader diversity and integration plans that may address enrollment policies as well as suspension rates and restorative justice practices:

The Districts receiving the grants are:

  • District 9: (Grand Concourse, Highbridge, Morrisania, University Heights)
  • District 13: (Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill)
  • District 16: (Bedford-Stuyvesant)
  • District 28: (Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Rego Park, Jamaica)
  • District 31: (Staten Island)

“IntegrateNYC has been at the forefront of the modern day integration movement in collaboration with many organizations lead by youth, parents, public school alumni, and equity advocates. All of us come after a long line of individuals dedicated to social activism and justice. The groundbreaking Brown v Board of Ed case was a big step in education reform, but across the city we’ve recognized for years that one step isn’t enough. Our five point platform, the 5R’s of Real Integration, has led us as an organization and now will lead us as a blueprint for this city we call home. Real Integration is more than simply moving bodies; it is moving the minds of people as well. Implementing this plan for equity understands that there is a need to honor and respect the dignity of each of the 1.1 million students that walk through the doors of our public schools with all of the unique cultures, histories, and backgrounds that come with them,” said Leanne Nunes, high school junior, District 8, Bronx, incoming Executive High School Director at IntegrateNYC.

“The time for advancing equity in our schools is now. Let us stand in solidarity with Mayor De Blasio and Chancellor Carranza for their support of the School Diversity Advisory Group’s policy recommendations for integration. These approved recommendations will champion work that has long been taking place in support of dismantling structural practices that have not best supported the 1.1 million students, and educators who serve NYC public schools. The heart of this policy initiative was the 5R Framework which was created by students currently attending NYC public schools. Their tenacity guided these recommendations, and amplified voices, spaces, and places that have historically been overlooked-that in itself is a modern testament of our youth. This work will surely have a positive impact on future generations of our city for years to come. May the collaborative process, and positive outcome for the recommendations serve as a model nationwide,” said Cassandra Baptiste, Instructional Coach. The Children’s School P.S. 372.

“It has been an honor to server on the School Diversity Advisory Group (SDAG) and to be part of this historic reform to integrate New York City’s public schools. I am confident that the 5 R’s framework will serve as a strong foundation to support our school communities in advancing equity for all our students,” said Noah Angeles, Principal, York Early College Academy.

“Today’s announcement marks a critical point for the work of integration in New York City. We applaud Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza for honoring the vision set forth by the School Diversity Advisory Group (SDAG). The 62 approved policy changes represent critical steps towards dismantling the architecture of segregation. As a member organization of the SDAG, New York Appleseed has been honored to serve alongside our partners from across organizations and institutions to craft the path towards diverse, equitable, and inclusive public schools. We want to specifically highlight the leadership of the students from IntegrateNYC for their persistence and advocacy over the past five years, their expertise in designing the 5 R’s policy platform, and their commitment to bridging youth, community voice, and public policy. We also want to acknowledge the important work of community-based groups like nycASID, CEJ, AQE, and UYC for advocating for critical priorities reflected in this policy announcement. Lastly, we extend sincere gratitude to the SDAG Executive Committee, Maya Wiley, Hazel Dukes, Jose Calderon, Richard Kahlenberg, and Amy Hsin for setting the SDAG up to be a genuine mechanism for change and accountability rather than a symbolic convening. We are proud of the progress today’s announcement represents, and we look forward to continued bold action, following the SDAG’s final report,” said Matt Gonzales, Director, School Diversity Project New York Appleseed.

“Good Shepherd Services commends the Mayor and Chancellor for accepting 61 of the 67 recommendations proposed by the School Diversity Advisory Group (SDAG) in February 2019. As an SDAG member and believer in the potential of all youth, we are pleased to see the critical work of integration move forward. The SDAG proposals and the 5 Rs platform created by youth that frame them will bring New York City closer to ensuring that all students receive a high-quality education. There is more work to be done! We look forward to seeing the approval of additional recommendations going forward and offering our guidance to the Department of Education as implementation begins, a critical element to ensuring the success of this work,” said Sister Paulette LoMonaco, Executive Director, Good Shepherd Services.

“School diversity is about more than race. It is essential that we look at school communities, especially those in the Bronx, where more than half of the student body is considered a subgroup albeit, students with disabilities, English Language Learner and/or economically disadvantaged. It’s simply unfair and unjust to continue operating in this manner. As a school leader, I am proud that Chancellor Carranza and Mayor de Blasio are as courageous as we are to desegregate New York City public schools,” said Asya Johnson, Principal, Longwood Preparatory Academy.

“PASSNYC commends the Mayor and the Chancellor for taking more steps to advance equity now. We need bold, intentional action to dismantle the architecture of segregation. Thank you to the SDAG Executive Committee, our fellow members, and the DOE team, for making this progress possible. Special thanks to IntegrateNYC, whose 5R’s platform proves the power of youth voices. We look forward to continuing this vital work for the future of New York City,” said Ryan J. S. Baxter, Founder, PASSNYC.

“Advocates for Children of New York has been honored to serve on the School Diversity Advisory Group and appreciates that the Mayor and the Chancellor have taken this next step towards addressing pervasive segregation in our City’s schools,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York

“Advisory groups are sometimes used to avoid action and kick problems down the road, but today Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza have agreed to take deeply meaningful steps to attack the biggest problem facing New York City schools: entrenched racial and economic segregation that impedes student learning. By adopting more than 90% of the recommendations offered by the School Diversity Advisory Group, the Mayor and Chancellor have embraced a comprehensive package of reforms to bring about more equitable, integrated schools. Of particular significance, they agreed to establish important racial and socioeconomic diversity goals that—if met—would over time make New York City Public Schools a national leader in confronting segregation,” said Richard D. Kahlenberg, Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation.

“I commend Chancellor Carranza for adopting the vast majority of the School Diversity Advisory Group’s recommendations for increasing diversity in NYC schools. While they are only a small component of the important and ongoing equity work required to support the needs of all students in the DOE, the recommendations are, nonetheless, a bold step in the right direction. If implemented successfully, the recommendations promise to promote conditions necessary for transforming education throughout the city, inspiring diversity beyond student bodies to teachers and schools, districts and DOE central administration. They promise to close gaps not only in opportunities to learn but also in what’s important to learn. They promise to reshape school culture and climate in ways that see discipline as a means of character development as opposed to punishment. They promise to uplift rates of graduation for the city’s most vulnerable students while working to shatter the invisible barriers that lock some into stations of privilege and others into stations of vulnerability. They correct the metrics by which we define success, and reclaim and rightly define what equity, integration, segregation, power, and etc. mean in this new dispensation of our unceasing struggle to achieve educational equity. This is not a time for a victory lap, but an acknowledgement that a community as diverse and as large as NYC can indeed come together, take a policy which best aspect is its potential for malleability, and shape one that is better. Unlike the previous diversity plan that was released two years ago, this new contract is a bold bill of rights under which all our students will be guaranteed a chance to pursue the one thing that have so escaped us—an education without borders,” said David E. Kirkland, Executive Director, New York University Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools.

“These changes are a step in the right direction,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “While there is much more work to be done, I thank Schools Chancellor Carranza for his dedication to ensuring that the New York City school system reflects the diversity of its students.”

“Diversity and inclusion play a tremendous role our schools and in our ability to ensure equity, equality and representation of all individuals across our communities,” said Congressman Adriano Espaillat. “Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza are furthering New York City’s commitment to our youth and our community with today’s announcement. The new School Diversity Advisory Group will help ensure we are fully demonstrating the American values of diversity and inclusion to our students as well as throughout the programs and resources dedicated to supporting our schools, administrators and teachers, and most importantly, to supporting our families.”

“We’re a school system of more than 1.1 million children and we need a path to integrating our schools that is community-driven and inclusive. Adopting 62 recommendations by the School Diversity Advisory Group is a positive step forward to addressing the deep rooted inequities within our school system and I commend Chancellor Carranza and Mayor de Blasio for taking action,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Education. “I eagerly anticipate the second round of recommendations by the School Diversity Advisory Group, and I call on the Department of Education and Mayor de Blasio to respond expeditiously.”

Senator Robert Jackson said, “I am excited to hear about the implementation of these recommendations and the funding of these school diversity grants. Under Chancellor Carranza’s leadership, the DOE has set a bold vision for integration. I believe that if we stay this course and continue to support anti-bias training, school integration efforts at the district level, and other important initiatives contained within the School Diversity Advisory Group, we will be that much closer to ensuring all our city’s children get a quality education no matter where they grow up or the color of their skin.”

Senator Zellnor Y. Myrie said, “When students have the opportunity to learn about their heritage, they aren’t just learning facts and figures. They’re learning that they matter, their history is important, and their future is limitless. These recommendations, which include a common definition of culturally relevant education across the DOE, mark a historic step toward a school system that truly serves every single student, and I applaud the Mayor and the Chancellor for adopting them.”

Assembly Member Michael Blake said, “School diversity makes all of us better, stronger and more prepared for the world. To ensure diversity occurs, an intentional and focused plan with accountability and resources must be put in place. I thank the School Diversity Advisory Group for such stellar recommendations that will be adopted including diversity metrics and monitoring school discipline. I commend Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza for hearing the call that substantive changes needed to occur to ensure diversity. Congratulations to our School District 9 for being selected as a recipient of a grant to focus on restorative justice, diversity and enrolling students not suspending them. School diversity is a critical reason why we continue to Believe in The Bronx.”

“Investing in the future of our children, Chancellor Caranza’s commitment to the School Diversity Advisory Group’s recommendations marks an important step forward for the families in Bronx School District 9 and throughout the City,” Assembly Member Latoya Joyner said. “Embracing diversity and expanding the use of Culturally Relevant Education in the classroom, the Chancellor is opening the doors of opportunity to more Bronx students with this funding and I thank him for his efforts.”

“Our schools should represent the diversity that makes our city so great and the recommendations being implemented will help achieve that. By taking input from our communities this advisory group has come up with a real plan to increase diversity and ensure culturally relevant education. I thank Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carranza for making this a priority and adopting these recommendations from the School Diversity Advisory Group,” said Assembly Member Walter T. Mosley.

“We have the opportunity to make real transformative changes in addressing our segregated schools,” said Council Member Adrienne Adams. “I am pleased to hear that the Department of Education will adopt most of the School Diversity Advisory Group’s recommendations and that Community School District 28 will be among the first recipients of the diversity grant to develop a specific plan for integration and diversity. I hope these changes will bring us closer to a desegregated, equitable education system in New York City and I thank the Mayor and Chancellor for their commitment to our students.

Council Member Vanessa Gibson said, “I am excited to hear that School District 9 will be included as part of the School Diversity Advisory Group (SDAG) set of recommendations to develop community-driven diversity plans. The communities of Grand Concourse, Highbridge, and Morrisania will provide valuable insight into inclusive integration plans that address issues such as enrollment policies, suspension rates, and restorative justice practices. I look forward to the work that will result from this initiative and look forward to working with the local school community to ensure equity and excellence for all of our schools.”

Council Member Brad Lander said, “We’ve spent many decades creating and entrenching a segregated school system, so it will take a sustained and mighty campaign to undo it. But at least it’s starting to feel like we are making a real effort. Thanks to the grassroots organizing of students, parents, and educators, we can’t close our eyes any more. Thanks to multiple City Council hearings over the past five years, we’ve helped build a drumbeat. Thanks to the School Diversity Advisory Group, a plan is taking shape. And thanks to Chancellor Carranza’s willingness to speak honestly and act courageously, we have leadership to take action. Today’s announcement includes so many good and crucial steps. Let’s take these — and then build the evidence and the courage to take many more.”

“New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the world, yet our public school system is one of the most segregated. I applaud the Department of Education’s recognition that we have much more to do to bring racial equity to our classrooms and committing to advancing these values by implementing many of the recommendations made by the School Diversity Advisory Group,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “I also commend the DOE’s allocation of $2 million in diversity grants for new school districts, including district 13 in Downtown Brooklyn. This grant will allow school districts to work with their community and the DOE in developing broader diversity and integration plans and I look forward to supporting our schools, students, and PTA members in achieving community-driven solutions.”

Council Member Debi Rose said, “I know from conversations with parents, teachers and staff that our schools have a long way to go before they are truly inclusive spaces that uplift all students to their full potential. Education should be the pathway to opportunity, and all obstacles to opportunity should be removed. My hope is that this grant takes a bottom-up community-driven approach to addressing the unique equity and enrichment needs of Staten Island schools.”

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