Real Integration and Equity in New York City Schools

Today, New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) took another small step toward equity and one giant leap toward integration, with the release of the initial recommendations by the School Diversity Advisory Group (SDAG), of which NYU Metro Center is a member. The report, titled Making the Grade: The Path to Real Integration and Equity for NYC Public School Students, paves the way for greater school equity and access across New York City Schools.

Cover of SDAG report Making the Grade

With a strategic focus on enrollment policy, resource equity, curriculum, pedagogy and school climate, school discipline, and faculty diversity, the report’s recommendations say at least two things: that there is still much to do to achieve educational equity, but together we can do what’s necessary to achieve it. This is a crucial message, as people across NYC have been clamoring for a say in the system that educates their children. By embracing a participatory approach to designing reform and resolving decades-old problems of practice, the power of SDAG’s recommendations reside in the collective voices of multiple stakeholder groups — and notably, these voices include those of students who attend NYC DOE schools. The report’s guiding recommendations grew out of the work of student advocates — Integrate NYC’s 5 R’s Framework!   

The recommendations are broad and bold and insistent. They are not meant as the end of a conversation, but as a powerful beginning of community conversation, moving us past the incomplete habits of political respectability and narratives that force people apart. The recommendations are sound, requiring that we not only hold high expectations for our students but that we create systems and develop educators capable of helping our children rise to those expectations. The recommendations require that we not only challenge our persistent personal biases, but that we challenge bias in all its manifestations; for it is one thing to be non-sexist or non-racist, but it’s quite a different thing to be anti-sexist and anti-racist.

NYU Metro Center stands behind these recommendations because they emanate from a place that centers our children and our communities not through the gaze of our divided past, but in the promise of our united future, which is about bringing people together as opposed to driving us apart, about saying integration proudly and in public, while claiming a darker part of our history so that, even in that darkness, we can uplift light.

As we said, the conversation is not over. Following this initial release, the SDAG will continue to meet to explore further recommendations based on community input and engagement. A subsequent report with additional recommendations on school screens, gifted and talented (G&T) programs, and school resources will be released by the end of the school year.

We look forward to working towards making these recommendations a reality for and with New York City families.