Editor's note: The following piece is based on a new issue brief by Ray Domanico entitled “Closing the Racial Achievement Gap in NYC Schools”
Racial integration of schools is back on the agenda in New York City, the nation’s largest school system. However, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza should temper their expectation that recently enacted changes to middle school admissions policies in two city districts represent the dawn of a new age of racial justice. Much work remains to be done, and tinkering with admission policies at a few schools is a very small piece of it.
Unless the mayor and chancellor engage in a much broader school improvement effort, too many black and Hispanic students will continue to be left out.
Decades ago, New York City schools were geographically zoned, as schools are in most districts across the U.S. But in the late 1980s, proponents of greater school choice, myself and the Manhattan Institute included, argued that low student achievement seemed rooted in the very notion of zoning because the system did not allow families to shop around for better schools without changing their residence. One outcome of this advocacy was the creation of charter schools, as well as hundreds of small public middle and high schools that had no geographic boundaries and were allowed to screen their applicants for admission.
Ray Domanico is the director of education policy at the Manhattan Institute.