Statement on The New York City Department of Education’s Diversity Plan

Breakthrough New York Executive Director Rhea Wong issued the following statement today about the New York City Department of Education’s diversity plan. The plan aims to address the lack of diversity in public schools.

"The New York City Department of Education’s diversity plan demonstrates the city’s dedication to creating more inclusive and representative public schools. However, there is still more that needs to be done to fully address the complex racial and socioeconomic segregation in our schools.

By eliminating the “limited unscreened” high school admissions method, the DOE correctly recognizes that the time required to “demonstrate interest” by attending an open house or school fair is an “often-unacknowledged obstacle for families.” However, the “limited unscreened” admissions method is just one aspect of high school admissions that favors those with time and money. The stark reality is that the high school admissions system as a whole provides only an illusion of meritocracy, and families with means can navigate the complex system much more effectively than their low-income peers.

It is also commendable that the DOE is making the Specialized High School Admissions Test accessible to a wider range of students, but simply providing more students with the opportunity to take the test does not mean these students will do well. Much more needs to be done to expand test prep and other supports to students in low-income communities. Breakthrough New York provides test prep, high school application guidance, and summer enrichment to low-income students, but our help can only stretch so far.

Finally, making data and information about schools available online is a step in the right direction. I hope the DOE will continue to build out their system to include average SAT scores and counselor-to-student ratios, which can indicate if the school adequately prepares students for college. The online portal provides the percentage of students who enroll in college or career programs, but listing the percentage who enroll in four-year colleges is a much better indicator of success.

I commend the Department of Education for making diversity a priority, but we need to do so much more to ensure that all New York City students have the opportunity to attend schools that put them on the path to lifelong success.”