When it comes to the approximately 1.1 million students who attend the 1,800+ programs that make up the New York City public school system, it is no secret that City schools, as a whole, are as diverse as New York itself. Our students are representative of hundreds of countries, cultures, and languages along with various races, socioeconomic backgrounds, gender expressions, experiences, and sexual orientations. We firmly believe — and research backs us on this — that all students benefit from diverse and inclusive schools and classrooms.
Currently, however, not all of our schools reflect our City’s overall diversity, and in some cases, they do not even reflect the diversity of the communities in which they are located. Given our commitment to Equity and Excellence for all City students, we feel that it is crucial for the DOE to address inequity of all types. By working to diversify all of our schools, we would be going a long way towards providing the equitable, supportive, welcoming, and excellent education that we firmly believe all of our students deserve.
Introducing the DOE’s new Diversity in New York City Public Schools plan, our renewed commitment to increasing diversity across all City schools.
This plan, which defines diversity as a priority for the DOE, is part of the our Equity and Excellence for All agenda, and it outlines the steps, commitments, and policy changes necessary to diversify our schools.
Our plan has several initial goals:
- Increase the number of students in a racially representative school by 50,000 over the next five years;
- Decrease the number of economically stratified schools by 10% (150 schools) in the next five years; and
- Increase the number of inclusive schools that serve English Language Learners and students with disabilities.
To achieve these goals, the DOE will be seeking to collaborate with our schools and communities alongside respected researchers and practitioners to develop district-level and citywide diversification plans. These collaborations will occur within a new School Diversity Advisory Group that we are forming for citywide policies and practices as well as local, district-based groups that are comprised of parents, community stakeholders, school leaders, and elected officials. Together, these groups will evaluate our schools — with specific regard to racial representation, economic stratification, and inclusion — and make formal recommendations to the DOE that address diversity in our schools.
Of course, increasing diversity takes more than just talk. And that is why we are also proud to announce the steps we are already taking to make our schools more diverse and representative of the communities that make up our City. Right now, some of our actions include:
- Eliminating “limited unscreened” as a high school admissions method;
- Developing strategies to increase access to screened schools for all students, especially high-needs students;
- Streamlining our admissions processes with new online applications and an expanded NYC School Finder that works with all grade levels;
- Changing the way schools host, promote, design, and schedule their open houses so that more families can learn about their school options;
- Expanding our existing Specialized High Schools’ diversity initiatives; and
- Expanding the number schools with Diversity in Admissions targets. Currently, we have 21 elementary, middle, and high school programs that have set admissions targets for specific student groups. You can read more about our grade level-specific admissions targets on our Diversity in Pre-K Admissions, Kindergarten Admissions, Middle School Admissions, and High School Admissions webpages.