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With help from Appleseed New York, Brooklyn's PS133 has a diversity policy that Chancellor Walcott has called a model for other schools.

June 2013

Mending the Classroom Class Divide

Despite the City’s diversity, our schools remain some of the most segregated in the nation and are increasingly divided by income, class, and race. But in many diverse school districts, there are opportunities to make room for kids of all races and walks of life to learn together as neighborhood demographics continue to change.

Last year, New York Appleseed worked with parents and community leaders to persuade the City Department of Education to reserve seats for poor students and English language learners at PS133 on the edge of Park Slope, Brooklyn. Chancellor Dennis Walcott has since called this policy a model for other school.

“There is a lot of evidence that parents who raise their children in New York City want them to go to diverse schools,” says David Tipson, director of New York Appleseed. “But, until the PS133 plan, there were no City initiatives to directly increase school diversity.” He continues: “Many assume that any kind of diversity plan is automatically prohibited by the Constitution, but there is still a lot that can be done.”

The Department of Education can adjust school admission criteria and zoning to create more diverse schools. Students also can be recruited from particular neighborhoods, and seats can be reserved for students who qualify for free lunch. A $40,000 grant supports Appleseed’s work with community groups, elected officials, educators, and parents across the City to help them understand and advocate for policies that increase poor and minority students’ access to good schools.

“The City’s schools, particularly at the elementary level, are often racially and socio-economically isolated, missing an important opportunity to allow students from different backgrounds to learn from one another,” says Shawn Morehead, program officer for education at The Trust. “The grant will help communities find ways to encourage more diverse schools.”

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