#MondayMyth: The goal of all NYC integration advocates is a top-down, citywide school-integration plan for pre-k, elementary and middle schools from the mayor and chancellor.

Reality: There are some school-integration advocates and pundits who lend support to this idea, but there are many (including Appleseed) who do not, and too many journalists have assumed this is our goal without evidence or investigation. The two SDAG reports together represent the only citywide “plan” that we would want to see adopted by the mayor. We believe that planning for pre-k, elementary, and middle school integration must happen at the CSD level for the time being. The role for DOE is to provide real accountability.

Why? There are several reasons:

1) State law. State law gives community education councils the power to deny changes to zone lines for nearly all elementary schools and many middle schools and limits the ability of the DOE to move district lines. By necessity, integration plans for elementary schools and middle schools need to be developed in coordination with CECs and local communities. A preexisting plan from the mayor would make this process more complicated and difficult.

2) Community engagement. If we believe that affected underserved communities should be consulted in the development of integration plans, then a citywide plan undermines that principle. CSDs, while still large, break up the city in a way that allows for meaningful community engagement. (There may well be some who believe that even this level is too large.)

3) Long-term durability. The history of integration demonstrates that integration plans created by school districts tend to be more durable and enjoy more popular support than those imposed by courts. If we want integration to be a long-term fixture of the NYC educational landscape, we need to take the time to create plans at the CSD level with local buy in. (This does NOT mean, however, watering down standards. Notwithstanding the above, there will be situations where a top-down plan from DOE will need to be imposed when a CSD fails to develop an acceptable integration plan on its own.)

4) Quality. Related to the point above, local community members, superintendents, parents, students, elected officials and others have invaluable expertise about their CSDs that make for better planning and better plans.

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#MondayMyth from 12/16/19