New City Admissions Policy Could Complicate Upper West Side Middle School Diversity Plan

A new city policy that will eliminate all academic screens in middle school admissions for the upcoming school year could have a perverse effect on the Upper West Side — it could actually make it harder for the district to achieve its school integration plan.

The Department of Education announced on Friday that the city is eliminating academic screens and other screens like interviews and auditions for middle schools for the 2021-2022 school year. Parents will choose their preferences and then admission will be based on lottery position.

On the one hand, this is a practical matter — kids aren’t taking the same standardized tests this year or getting grades in the same way, because of Covid-19. But Mayor de Blasio also said it’s about reversing inequities in the system. Academic screens can result in schools within the same district attracting very different students, and exacerbating segregation.

District 3, the school district encompassing the Upper West Side, uses academic screens in a unique way — they’re actually meant as a tool to try to desegregate schools. District 3 schools set aside at least 25% of seats for children who qualify for free or reduced lunch based on their parents’ income and who score below proficient on tests. The city will still allow the schools to use the free lunch qualification but not the academic one, a DOE spokesperson told us.

There are also policy changes for high school admissions, but they mostly don’t impact the Upper West Side. Districts like District 2 on the East side, which have historically set aside high school seats for local residents, won’t be able to set seats aside next year.

Teens Take Charge, a student group that has fought for desegregation, expressed disappointment that the policies don’t go further, saying that “The caste system that defines high school admissions in New York City is still intact.”

NEWS, SCHOOLS | 32 comments | permalink
    1. JG says:

      Unfortunately, BdB and Carranza have no plan other than optics. They are not concerned with elevating poorly performing schools because that actually takes hard work and a long range plan. They make it impossible for families to navigate their constantly changing non-plans and instead pit parents against parents and parents against teachers. What comes last are the children and actually improving their education. Unfortunately, without a robust local press, the issues are framed and all too frequently skewed by the education reporter with the biggest platform – Eliza Shapiro at the NYT.

      • Demps says:

        Private schools, Catholic schools, and charter schools never closed. All remained open. The science says children and young people, ages 2 to 22, are not vectors.

        School closures and remote learning don’t work. And neither do members of the Teacher’s Unions.

        • JerryV says:

          Demps, You claim that because private schools, Catholic schools, and charter schools never closed, “the science says children and young people, ages 2 to 22, are not vectors”. This proves nothing. For proof, you would need to compare infection rates among people with whom these children came in contact with rates among other populations. Please show us this data if you have it. Otherwise it is mere speculation on your part.

          • Demps says:

            Center for Disease Control (CDC)statistics, Dr. Redfield, Dr. Fauci, and Dr. Scott Atlas among many others..

            There is an alarming increase in teen suicide this year attributed to the isolation and loneliness imposed by the lockdowns. Use DuckDuckGo.com to follow up.

            • D says:

              Don’t quote atlas if you want to be taken seriously. He knows as much about epidemiology as an epidemiologist knows about radiology. Very little.

          • good humor says:

            Positivity rates in schools is about 0.3%. Very low.

          • sg says:

            Public schools are not open because the unionized teachers refus to do so, regardless of the very low infection rate for children. No doubt who calls the shots at the BOE. This makes it patently clear that it’s not “all about the children” regardless of what the union always says.

        • Beth says:

          Some private schools and some charter schools, most notably Success Academy, were remote only this fall.

          • AS says:

            Success Academy is remote because the DOE was not able to commit to any timeline for when they would be able to get back into their schools that reside in DOE buildings. This was a DOE issue…not a charter school issue. They chose to go fully remote because they felt that it was the best decision in order to give their children the best education they could while the DOE screwed around. THIS is why they are so successful. Teaching comes first.

        • NYC teacher says:

          My school recently surveyed parents and their responses and comments were overwhelmingly positive. “Your teachers are a rare bright light in a very dark year,” wrote one anonymous parent. My parent teacher conferences were also extremely warm and cordial. It’s been such an incredibly hard year, both professionally and personally, and I can’t tell you what a boost the positive feedback has been.

          Then I go online and see person and after person calling us lazy and it’s hard not to be brought down again. I’m sorry if you’ve had a negative experience, but please don’t disparage all 75,000 NYC public school teachers. I swear to you, we hate remote learning every bit as much as you do.

      • Juan says:

        Totally agree. Eliza Shapiro is a hack whose ultra-progressive agenda is impossible to miss. When the liberal NYT comments section is routinely filled with people calling her out for being too liberal, you know you have a problem.

        BDB and Carranza continue to outdo themselves with their incompetence. This new plan is a mess and will lead to a race to the bottom. But if one complains, you are labeled a racist.

        • Js says:

          BTW was astonished to learn that Eliza Shapiro’s mother is Susan Chira who was a longtime editor at the New York Times. Chira was at the NYT when her daughter started in 2018. Chira left the NYT in 2019.

          • Beth says:

            To get a job there you really have to have connections. Think Sam Sifton, Chloe Malle, Rose Schlossberg. Hiring mostly from this group of people limits the NYT’s perspective in an unhealthy way.

          • Beth says:

            My bad – It’s Tatiana, not Rose, Schlossberg.

      • JH says:

        This comment is spot on.

    2. Carlos says:

      The change to D2 high schools is actually very good for us in D3. They have some good schools that are now more available to us. That is the only positive of these changes.

      • UWSmom says:

        I agree. The D2 exclusivity has got to go. As do Carranza and BdB. It is the highest hypocrisy that Carranza repeatedly targeted D3 schools for lack of diversity and inclusion and called parents racist, when D2 high schools routinely block non-D2 applicants so they can keep enrollment 80-90% white and majority within a 6 block radius UES enclave. Many D3 families including mine did not apply to certain alleged citywide yet defacto D2 schools because the student body was appallingly and uncomfortably nondiverse.

    3. Leon says:

      This was yet another horrible decision by the Mayor and Chancellor. And our tone deaf CEC supported this (with a few notable, brave exceptions) despite overwhelming opposition from their constituents.

      Rather than ruining the middle schools by creating a race to the bottom, let’s invest some time and money in the underperforming elementary schools that aren’t helping their students be prepared for the competitive middle schools.

      • A says:

        This is exactly true. A friend’s son taught 9th grade for one year and they needed four teachers in the class because none of the students could read at grade level. This is the problem. Instead of fixing the problem in elementary and middle school, they keep kicking the can through social promotion and then wonder why these kids are not able to get into these performing schools. Their solutions is the easy man’s way out …cowards not willing to really step up and face the issues and work with the resources and communities to try to change the situations.

    4. Disappointed UWSider says:

      The definition of segregation is an enforced separation of racial groups and simply does not apply here. The city should raise the level of education for everyone instead of lowering it for everyone and cultivate talent instead of celebrating mediocrity. Absolute equality in everything is a socialist utopia. The new policy is another proof of the mayor’s incompetency and another nail in the city education, which will only encourage more New Yorkers to leave.

    5. nemo paradise says:

      “Academic screens can result in schools within the same district attracting very different students, and exacerbating segregation.”

      Huh? Isn’t “attracting very different students” the whole point of integration?

      And does anyone believe for one econd that teens are in charge of “Teens Take Charge?”

      We really are in a Newspeak world now.

      • Beth says:

        I don’t know why Teens Take Charge gets so much attention. They provide one perspective, but certainly not the only perspective. Also, it is questionable as to whether Teens Take Charge is actually led by teens. The person who runs the group is a white male adult from Biloxi, MS and adult CEC2 members participate in their events.

        • Alem says:

          @Beth. As someone with a teen in Teens Take Charge, I can assure you the group is led by teens. They have adults who support, participate, and lend resources where needed when asked by the teens in the group, but it’s driven by teens.

          • Gilligan says:

            If Teens Take Charge wants improved schools, and aren’t actively and loudly opposed to the Teachers Union, then they are wasting their time.

        • ChristineUWS says:

          Beth, of course it’s only one perspective, but it’s the perspective around which a group of young people have become vocal, informed advocates. In any issue, those are the people who get coverage. Period. If other teens feel differently (or parents for that matter) they are certainly more than welcome to start their own advocacy group and get attention.

          • Beth says:

            I’m sorry, but I do not find Teens Take Charge to be informed. In fact I am routinely surprised at how ignorant about the issues they are and how intolerant they are of other perspectives.

            I am aware that a youth group is a novelty to the news media, but the focus on these well-intentioned, albeit uninformed, youth does a disservice to this issue. There are many adults, particularly POC, who have been working in their communities for a long time on this issue and who are very knowledgeable, but whose voices are ignored. I would much rather hear from them than a bunch of teenagers, and I think the public would be better served by hearing from these adults as well.

            There are groups and individuals who are advocating other perspectives already. It’s worth noting that both the Chancellor and some in the news media, particularly Eliza Shapiro, have been actively chilling discourse on this issue by maligning those with different perspectives as racist (without due process).

    6. UWS Craig says:

      In order to truly promote equality, schools should set aside 25% of A grades in each class to students who qualify for free lunches or perform in the bottom 25% on the final exam. If top grades only go to the privileged, this school integration plan becomes nothing more than a farce, achieving nothing.

      • nemo paradise says:

        Good point. While we’re at it, let’s agree that short kids get three inches added to their height, and tall kids lose three. That way the average stays the same, but tall privilege is eliminated.

    7. zach says:

      Educational justice. No more unearned privilege.

    8. Rob T from NYC says:

      Would be nice if any student with passing grades could attend a school in his/her neighborhood. That should be a right.

    9. mike UWS says:

      Awed into admiration at the unvarnished lack of bias, clarity and intelligence and urgent concern of the comments section. Thank you.
      Might we also agree, yet impending larger issue bearing on this very situation is somehow the same sinecure drone senators and representatives are repeatedly recycled by the NY democratic machine into the legislature both federal and state by our voters. This would be efficacious time and place for ‘re-imagining’ governance city, state and federal WITHOUT the likes of the new cycle of radical leftists WAITING THE WINGS grooming themselves as progressive duncel replacement, extend and pretend political stand ins to offices of attorney generals, and the likes of the departing DeBlasios, Cuomos, Schumers, Pelosis; otherwise our wheels are spinning exasperation. Take note, importantly the current example of the national ‘stimulus’ bill now deadlocked IN ADDITION to controversial and likely needless Draconian shutdowns of our local economy, spearheaded inter alia by the aforementioned state and congress politicians that chose pork bill deadlock over a necessity peoples’ covid stimulus bill to provide income replacement and extended UI benefits. Anyway, from this digression, Season Blessings to us, every one.