City Council passes school diversity bill

Mayor Bill de Blasio.

New York City Council last Thursday passed legislation by Public Advocate, Jumaane D. Williams codifying the creation and continued existence of the School Diversity Advisory Group, originally convened by Mayor Bill de Blasio, to develop solutions to addressing the systemic segregation in New York City schools.

The Advisory Group has released two reports to date, with detailed proposals for increasing diversity in city schools and in select programs.

The legislation, Intro 1550-A, is one of three bills sponsored by the public advocate, which was passed by the City Council.

“I’m a New York City public school baby, and I’m proud of that fact and the education I received,” Williams said. “But despite that pride and because of that history, I know that our deeply segregated school system, and our students within it, are in desperate need of reform.

“The School Diversity Advisory Group is critical because it involves taking the input of these people experiencing our education system up close in order to change it,” he added. “My bill today expands the reach of that group across years, administrations and boroughs.”

Established in 2017, Williams said the advisory group was tasked with “working to reshape citywide policies and practices such as admissions and program planning.”

Intro 1550-A, which passed overwhelmingly last Thursday, codifies the advisory group to be made up of Council appointments, a public advocate appointment and mayoral appointments.

Williams said this codification would build on “the critical work already done by the group and extend it beyond any one administration as part of a multi-year framework.”

He said the codification would also require quarterly meetings and public hearings in each of the five boroughs.

The public advocate said members of the group will include at least 27 members tasked with producing an annual public report that examines ways to increase school diversity.

The annual report will require a multi-year plan to be developed and adopted by the Department of Education to address integration in schools, Williams said.

He said the report will also require a one-year look back measurement to track measurement of goals achieved.

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