Teachers For Integrated Middle Schools

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As a teacher in the New York City school system, I call for an end to ALL discriminatory and segregative middle school admissions screens and applaud your stance against racism in our school system.

I support the District 3 CEC’s plan to create more academic and racial diversity at competitive middle schools on the Upper West Side, but I also believe that we should take a bolder step toward equity: It is past time to end the use of all middle-school enrollment screens (except those designed to identify extraordinary talent in the arts, as long as those screening mechanisms are counterweighted by socioeconomic factors, such as Title I eligibility, mother's education level, or the fact that a student lives in temporary housing*) system wide. These screens systematically isolate and exclude students of color from “good” schools, and must be removed.

Chancellor Carranza, I am glad that you have stepped into the debate over the much-publicized public hearing at PS 199, and regret that you have felt compelled to apologize for your tweet on the topic. I stand with all leaders who are unafraid to point out the racism in our current school system.

Leadership is crucial because these screens, which are just one mechanism leveraged to protect and maintain the racial segregation of the city’s public schools, could be removed and replaced with a more equitable system. Chancellor Carranza, you could start this process tomorrow.

As an alternative to screened admissions, I point to the idea of district-wide “controlled choice” approaches for middle schools in diverse but segregated community-school districts, per Council Member Brad Lander’s City Council Report, Desegregating NYC.

Desegregating our school system—and our whole city—is a huge job, but there is much good work underway, and strong momentum for change. It's an ideal moment to take a decisive policy step forward. Chancellor Carranza, please remove all middle-school admissions screens for the 2019-2020 school year.