CSA Members Attend Press Diversity Plan Press Conference
On Thursday, September 20, 2018, Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza held a press conference at PS 51 in Brooklyn to announce the new District 15 middle school diversity plan and launch a $2 million school diversity grant program for other school districts to develop their own diversity plans.
Brooklyn’s District 15 includes the neighborhoods of Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Fort Greene, Gowanus, Kensington, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, and Red Hook. In August 2017, those communities began to work together to develop a plan to create more diverse and integrated middle schools throughout the district. The DOE convened a Working Group consisting of principals, teachers, parents, advocates, and representatives of community-based organizations, and the Working Group led the process in collaboration with the urban planning firm WXY Studio. Throughout the year, they held four public workshops, coordinated additional meetings and engaged in substantial community outreach as they developed their proposal.
“The reason why this is so powerful is because it’s by the community for the community,” said Mayor de Blasio. “This is truly an expression of grassroots leadership—people working together to engage in the dialogue of how we could go farther and how we would get there.”
The District 15 diversity plan will remove screens from all middle schools and will prioritize 52% of 6th-grade seats for students from low-income families, English Language Learners, and students in temporary housing. It will impact the upcoming admission process this year and go into effect for students entering 6th grade in the fall of 2019. The City will invest $500,000 to help support the admissions changes.
“CSA believes that students of every race, religion, gender and socioeconomic status benefit from diverse and inclusive classrooms,” said President Mark Cannizzaro. “We believe in the potential of District 15’s plan to increase middle school diversity because school leaders within the district have been consistently included in dialogue and development throughout this process, and this plan has the support of the district’s elementary and middle school principals. Our school leaders face the critical task of successfully implementing any diversity plan and must always be given the necessary time and resources to educate and align their school communities and create inclusive classrooms. We look forward to our continuing collaboration with Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza as other school districts further develop their own diversity plans.”
In addition, the City launched a $2 million grant program for other districts to develop diversity plans using the District 15’s work as a template. The funding will be used to similarly engage planning firms, develop working groups, host community meetings, and develop proposals. School districts will be able to apply for the grant starting this fall.
Chancellor Carranza read the names of those involved in the Working Group, which included Principal Denise Watson of PS 32 and Lenore DeLio-Berner of MS 51, and referred to the District 15 plan as “the shot heard round the world” for integration throughout the New York City school system.
“This is not just about admissions,” said Carranza. “This is about curriculum, it’s about inclusive practices, and it’s about socio-emotional learning.”
Executive Vice President Henry Rubio attended the event to offer CSA’s support for the plan and the many elementary and middle school principals in attendance.