Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza has officially announced the city's plan to integrate District 3 middle schools in the Upper West Side and south Harlem. The plan, which attracted national attention after a video of furious Upper West Side parents went viral, will reserve 25 percent of the seats in selective District 3 middle schools for lower-performing students who qualify for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program.
“A good school is not defined by the highest test scores, but by its capacity to help students learn. We’re all part of the same District 3 community, and this is an opportunity to embrace each other and our diversity," said Marlon Lowe, principal of Mott Hall II.
The plan also calls for middle school outreach efforts, implicit bias training and culturally relevant education training for all District 3 middle school staff.
This is the first integration plan that encompasses an entire middle school district. As it was being developed in May, the debate spread beyond the Upper West side after white parents in District 3 were seen angrily speaking out against the plan at P.S. 199, a school that is 62 percent white and 4 percent black. Debates continued at other schools in the district while the DOE looked at multiple scenarios for how to prioritize the 25 percent of seats set aside for students with high economic needs.
“Students benefit from integrated schools, and I applaud the District 3 community on taking this step to integrate their middle schools,” said Carranza. “I hope what we’re announcing in District 3 will be a model for other districts to integrate schools across the City, and I look forward to working with parents and educators as we implement this plan and strengthen middle schools across the district.”
Chalkbeat crunched the numbers on how this plan, compared with two previous integration plans, would specifically affect enrollment in District 3:
Under Plan C, 137 families would get a seat in a school that they ranked lower. The city’s projections show that 113 families wouldn’t be matched to a school they picked — 35 more families than before. That’s compared to 185 students who would be offered a seat at a school they ranked higher.
"The demand, and the effort to be admitted to high-performing middle schools has driven a chasm between largely white and Asian and affluent families and economically struggling black and Latino families,” Kimberly Watkins, president of the District 3 community education council, a parent advisory group, told the NY Times. "[The] recalibration of the middle school admissions system [is] a first step toward meaningful change in our long-term District 3 segregation problem."