Today, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced major changes to the way the city’s middle and high schools admit their students. Those changes include eliminating all admissions screens for middle schools for at least one year; eliminating a policy that allows some high schools to give students who live nearby first claim at spots in the school; and issuing grants to be used by schools to develop diversity and integration plans.
Noliwe Rooks is an expert in cultural and racial implications for education, professor of literature in Cornell University’s Africana Studies and Research Center, and the director of the American Studies Program. She is also the author of the book “Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and The End of Public Education.” Rooks says if New York City enacts the changes announced by Mayor de Blasio it would be a major step toward integrating the nation’s largest and most segregated school system.
“Today, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and his Department of Education announced that they were, in the interest of promoting the desegregation of hundreds of New York City’s selective middle and high schools, planning to enact a number of major changes to the way students are admitted. If enacted, these changes would constitute the most significant, systemic steps toward integrating our nation’s largest and most segregated school system and mirror many of the policies asked for in an education lawsuit filed just last month in Federal Court on behalf of a student activist group, Teens Take Charge.
“In addition, today’s announcement represents quite a change for a mayor who during most of his seven-year term has come under fire from activists, parents and students for rarely mentioned the word, segregation, and for doing little to address structural inequalities in the school system he oversees.
“Today’s announcement, while not cause to declare victory over educational inequality in NYC public schools, are clearly first steps in the right direction and should be celebrated.”