- A Brooklyn school district within the New York City Department of Education will implement an integration plan next school year that was developed with the guidance of an urban planning firm and the input of community members, educators, parents and advocacy groups, Curbed NY reports.
- The plan — which involves public school choice, a lottery system and reserving some seats for English language learners and students from low-income families — will apply to 11 middle schools in District 15, the part of Brooklyn that includes Park Slope, Red Hook and Cobble Hill. Applicants will no longer be screened on categories such as test scores, absences and being tardy, which was viewed as discriminating against black and Latino students.
- The work group that laid out the plan in a report also recommends restorative practices, cultural sensitivity training for staff members and other efforts to make schools more inclusive that could also be applied more broadly across all New York City schools.
While finding strategies to reverse growing school segregation is an issue for many districts across the country, there is often a perception that if the nation’s largest school district can find a way to balance enrollment and devise a system that seems fair, other districts can accomplish that as well. According to a 2016 report from The Century Foundation, more than 100 districts across the country are working to implement socioeconomic integration, driven by data showing better academic outcomes for black and Hispanic students from low-income families when they attend integrated schools.
What’s notable about the District 15 plan is the NYCDOE's “bottom-up” approach. Involving community members who experience shifting neighborhood conditions and demographics can be a lengthy and even contentious process, but it is likely to lead to families feeling they have more of a voice in creating schools that meet their children's needs.
Though other districts can learn from the NYCDOE’s experience, strategies to achieve more integration will still be unique to individual metro areas. Involving those who will be affected by those strategies can help prevent some of the confusion and miscommunication that often takes place when changes affecting where a child will attend school are announced. Community engagement strategies can also be applied to improving failing schools, building new ones and deciding what services should be available in a community school.