NY Appleseed sent a letter to NYC Schools Chancellor David Banks, signed by over 400 hundred students, parents, educators and community members and more than 40 organizations that represent constituents throughout the city, to permanently end the use of screens, like attendance and standardized tests, for middle school admissions by the Department of Education (DOE). The elimination of middle school screens has enhanced diversity in NYC public schools and increased the likelihood of admissions to students’ and families’ top middle school choices. This comes after years of data that Black, Latine, and students from other historically marginalized groups–like students with IEPs and immigrant students–were excluded from highly sought-after, well-resourced public middle schools across the city due to discriminatory admission methods. Data demonstrating increases in diversity at 50 previously most selective middle schools and the success of Diversity plans such as Community School District 15’s, provide further evidence that eliminating middle-school screens moves NYC toward a more inclusive and integrated school system. In partnership with 39 community organizations, and the support of over 400 students, parents and educators, Appleseed calls for the permanent elimination of middle-school screens as an announcement on DOE admission policies is expected in the coming weeks.
As integration advocates, we have been concerned that Chancellor Banks has not meaningfully addressed school segregation in NYC, despite being one of the most segregated school systems in the country. School segregation perpetuates racial injustices and systemic inequities that affect social mobility and generational wealth of children of color. In one of the most diverse cities in the United States, it is time we lead by centering equity in public school admissions policies. This evidence-driven letter reminds Chancellor Banks of his moral duty to provide all students access to a quality education and to eliminate any systemic barriers that may exist for them to do so.