More Diversity Efforts Announced For Brooklyn School Districts

NYC Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carranza announced earlier today that Districts 13 (Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill) and 16 (Bedford-Stuyvesant) in Brooklyn will be among the first five citywide to receive funding as part of the $2 million school diversity grant program to develop their own community-driven school diversity and integration plans, modeled on the  District 15 (Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Red Hook, Sunset Park, middle school diversity plan.

They also announced that the city will adopt 64 of the 67 recommendations made by the School Diversity Advisory Group (SDAG) in their preliminary report back in February. SDAG is comprised of students, educators, parents, advocates and researchers that was appointed in 2017 to “advise the Mayor and Chancellor on policies to advance school diversity and integration”.

“There’s no one who knows better how to diversify our school system than our students, parents and teachers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement. “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,” added Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza.

Beginning in late 2017, the SDAG and its subcommittees held nearly 40 meetings, and eight town halls (only one in each borough) to facilitate research and discussion of a number of key policy areas related to diversity.

The final report is expected to be released in the coming weeks, but 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 in detail, covering everything from school enrollment, budget priorities, restorative justice practices, to staff diversity, culturally responsive curriculum and diversity metrics and goals among others.

It is unclear how the DOE will fund the implementation of the recommendations.

District diversity grants to support community planning

There were 17 Districts that applied for the grant money for integration efforts, and 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” statement from the Mayor’s office said.

Each of the five districts will receive $200,000 to support community planning processes similar to District 15. Some of what the money could be spent includes engaging community planning firms, selecting and developing working groups, hosting community meetings and developing a final proposal.

The DOE is expecting to support another five districts through the grant, to be announced later in 2019. The nine districts with “sufficient demographic diversity of population to develop diversity and integration plans” according to preliminary report’s recommendations are Districts 1, 2, 3, 13, 15, 22, 27, 28, 31.  Three of these districts – 1, 3 and 15 – are receiving funding for community-driven diversity and integration plans today.

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Liena Zagare

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