Efforts to Desegregate City Schools Fall Short of What is Needed, Report Says

A new report says the de Blasio administration can do a lot more to integrate the city's public school system. Our education reporter, Lindsey Christ, has more.

City efforts to desegregate some public schools have touched off battles in some neighborhoods.

Now, a report by the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School says those efforts are not nearly enough.

"We think the Department of Ed can do a lot more than it has been doing to foster integration," said Clara Hemphill, with the Center for New York City Affairs.

That includes ensuring the 82,000 homeless students are not concentrated in a few schools near shelters, as they are now.

The report also recommends the city do more to make pre-kindergarten classes more diverse. In some pre-k programs, poorer children who qualify for federal assistance are in class together, separated from other students.

"The Mayor said you can't do a lot because we have segregated housing and it's true that our housing is very segregated, but it's also true that we have segregated schools even in integrated neighborhoods," Hemphill said. "And we think that's a good place to start."

The de Blasio administration says it plans to release a comprehensive plan by June.

"This is a priority for the chancellor and the mayor because they believe that diverse classrooms and diverse learning environments are better for kids," said Deputy Schools Chancellor Joshua Wallack.

However, the Mayor and Chancellor have been accused of moving too slowly. A report by UCLA two years ago called the city's school system the most segregated in the country. Some neighborhoods have tried to organize desegregation efforts.

 Parents on the Lower East Side say the city is standing in the way of them putting their plan in place by September.

"It has been a challenge, to say the least," said one parent.

But in other neighborhoods, parents have resisted changes.

The city says it is just taking the time to make sure integration efforts are done right. Councilman Brad Lander sees signs of progress.

"What we're hearing from the mayor and the chancellor and the deputy chance or today is quite different than two years ago," said Brooklyn Councilman Lander. "They've taken some steps but they also acknowledge those steps are just the start."

The start of what the report calls a long road ahead.

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