Mulgrew praises mayor and chancellor’s new diversity plan

Stephon Johnson | 9/27/2018, 10:05 a.m.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced a plan to diversify a school district ...

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced a plan to diversify a school district in Brooklyn.

Last week, de Blasio and Carranza approved a diversity plan designed to increase middle school diversity in Brooklyn’s District 15. This comes after a community-driven process and proposal and the launching of a $2 million school diversity grant program for other school districts and communities across the city to develop similar plans. The process took a year to develop.

The mayor and chancellor announced the new plan at M.S. 51 William Alexander in District 15.

“Now I want to make clear, these are big, complicated, challenging, historic issues,” said de Blasio to those in attendance. “But why this plan is so powerful is it was created by this community for this community. This is truly an expression of grassroots leadership. And people deciding that we could reach farther and doing the hard work to figure out how we would get there.”

District 15’s middle school diversity plan will remove screens from all middle schools and prioritize sixth-grade seats for students from low-income families, English Language Learners and students in temporary housing to match the demographics of the school district (currently 52 percent of the seats).

Carranza told attendees that he felt inspired by the process not becoming a shouting match between warring factions in the district like other areas in the five boroughs.

“What I also appreciate is that they just didn’t come together and have a big screamfest,” said Carranza. “They looked at data, they looked at potential solutions, they had real back and forth as a community. They arrived at an answer as a community and put forward a plan as a community. This, my friends, is real action with real buy-in, with real ownership of this plan and its success. And now, just because the plan is approved doesn’t mean this is over. It is not over. The DOE that our mayor described is not the DOE of 2018, 2019 and going forward.”

As part of the diversity plan, the DOE will create a District 15 Middle School Admissions Coordinator position and Outreach Team assigned with calling the families of fifth-graders in the district with information about District 15 middle schools and their offerings. The team will also host community meetings and information sessions throughout the year to share information about the district’s middle schools and the diversity plan in general.

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew praised the mayor and Carranza in an emailed statement.

“New York City public schools need to reflect the diversity of the city,” said Mulgrew. “We are pleased to see Brooklyn District 15 educators and parents working together to help ensure their middle schools provide the best opportunities for all students in the district.”

Under the diversity plan, the DOE will also create a District 15 Diversity, Equity, and Integration Coordinator position and fund teacher training, the arts, technology and support for middle schools in the district as needed.

De Blasio told the crowd at M.S. 51 that the time had come for such a program and thanked the residents for their work on the plan.

“I know there’s been a really extensive full dialogue in this community,” said de Blasio. “And it’s very gratifying to see this kind of democracy playing out. People at the grassroots working with the educators in the Department of Education, figuring out an approach that had not been used before but we all believe is the right approach.”