City Education Department Will Be Required to Report on Diversity

Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina.  (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Under legislation that sailed through the City Council today, the Department of Education will be required to file an annual report on demographics in public schools.

The bill came in response to a 2014 report by UCLA’s Civil Rights Project that found New York’s public schools to be among the most segregated in America.

“It is shameful to have a school system that is among the most segregated in the country,” said Councilman Brad Lander, a Brooklyn Democrat and lead sponsor of the bill. “With the detailed data and strategic reporting that this bill will provide, New York City will have a meaningful framework to promote inclusion and advance diversity.”

Out of the 32 school districts in New York City, 19 had 10 percent or less white students in 2010, according to the UCLA report. Nearly three out of four charter schools (73 percent) were considered “apartheid” schools with less than 1 percent white enrollment, and 90 percent were “intensely segregated” (less than 10 percent white enrollment).

The legislation, which passed the Council unanimously, will require the DOE to submit to the City Council and post on its website an annual report on student demographics and the department’s efforts to “encourage diversity” within schools. The bill will require reporting on who receives special education services, receives free or reduced priced lunch, resides in temporary housing, are attending a school outside the community schools, and are English language learners.

The information would be further separated by grade, race/ethnicity and gender and primary home language (for students who are English language learners).

Even when this data is available, it’s not clear yet how the City Council and DOE plan to dramatically boost the diversity of individual public schools.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, an ally of many in the left-leaning Council, is expected to sign the bill into law. A spokesman for the mayor pointed to DOE testimony in support of the bill at a hearing last year.

City Education Department Will Be Required to Report on Diversity