New York Appleseed hails today’s announcement by the New York City Department of Education suspending the practice of screening young children for access to public middle schools. This decision represents the culmination of over three years of strategic advocacy by Appleseed, Orrick, and IntegrateNYC. Middle-school screens purported to evaluate students on their academic performance and behavior in their first nine years of life. There is no other school district in the nation that uses exclusive admissions processes for middle schools as extensively as New York City. The predictable segregation and unequal access to educational opportunities represented a betrayal of the core promises of public education and acquiescence to our city and nation’s legacy of racial oppression. We are grateful for this leadership from Chancellor of Schools Richard Carranza.
The call for ending middle-school screens came not only from Appleseed, but represented a broad consensus. Essential to today’s outcome were the principled arguments for change from the Alliance for School Integration & Desegregation, the New York City Bar Association, the School Diversity Advisory Group, the High School Application Advisory Council, Community Education Councils, and Council Member Brad Lander. Most important, the persistent advocacy of parents, students, and other stakeholders in Community School District 15 demonstrated to the world that making our public schools truly open to the public is possible.
Appleseed also celebrates the Department’s decision to centralize high-school admissions consistent with the recommendations of the High School Application Advisory Committee–the other part of our two-pronged strategy. These recommendations called for radical changes to the high-school process using a new proposal developed by student leaders. For too long, high schools individually picked and chose students without public oversight. The situation was already ripe for abuse and would have become unconscionable with the added challenges of the public-health crisis. This long-overdue step is an important victory for equity in admissions and public oversight over public education.
New York Appleseed is grateful for support from Orrick, The Sirus Fund, and the Donors’ Education Collaborative making these big wins for New York City school students possible.
Support New York Appleseed‘s work to make the removal of discriminatory admission screens a permanent fixture for New York City schools.