Council education committee passes diversity-reporting bill

council-education-committee-passes-diversity-reporting-bill
Daniel Dromm. (William Alatriste for the New York City Council)
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The City Council’s education committee voted unanimously today to approve a bill that would require the Department of Education to report on diversity in city schools.

The bill, which was approved 13-0, will require the city’s Department of Education to report annually on efforts and progress made to increase diversity in community school districts and high schools, including charter schools.

“I feel that ensuring that the Department of Education has this as a priority in addition to the reporting requirements are going to be contained in [the bill] will ensure that we have a more diverse, more equal school system,” said Councilman Daniel Dromm, the education committee chair.

The D.O.E. will have to provide the number and percentage of students who receive special education services, are English language learners, receive some form of reduced lunch, live in temporary housing, and attend school outside of their district. 

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The data will be disaggregated to grade level, race, gender, and students who are English language learners.

Performance on state tests will also be measured against these demographics.

The council also unanimously approved a resolution calling on the department to officially recognize school diversity as a benefit and make it a priority in regard to admissions, policies, creating new schools, and school rezoning. It would also require the D.O.E. to have a strategy to improve school diversity in every district.

In December, D.O.E. officials and education advocates provided testimony at a hearing where both the proposed legislation and resolution enjoyed support. 

Before the meeting’s conclusion, Councilwoman Inez Barron expressed her disappointment over the exclusion of a separate resolution calling on the governor to change admissions criteria for New York City’s specialized high schools, which have come under fire in the past year for a lack of diversity.

Councilmen Mark Weprin and Jumaane Williams were both absent for the vote.

The bill will come to a vote before the entire City Council at an upcoming meeting.

You can find the legislation here: http://on.nyc.gov/1LDprgQ