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Asian parents push stronger school integration fixes


Hundreds of Stuyvesant High School students walk to class in this September 2018 file photo. (Luiz C. Ribeiro for New York Daily News)

A new coalition of Asian Pacific American parents of city schoolkids will publish an open letter to schools Chancellor Richard Carranza on Tuesday urging an overhaul of admissions procedures used by more than 700 public high school programs.

Some of the loudest voices in the city’s current school segregation debate have been those of members of the Asian community who want to preserve enrollment policies that have been criticized for creating segregation. Under those policies, which are based on the use of a single test for admissions, a relatively high number of Asian students are admitted to top specialized high schools including the Bronx High School of Science and Manhattan’s Stuyvesant High School.

But now, influential members of the Asian community are calling for a more aggressive approach to diversifying the city’s infamously segregated public schools.

The coalition, which includes representatives from the Coalition for Asian Children and Families and the Chinese American Planning Council, wants to level the playing field for all kids

Coalition spokeswoman Shino Tanikawa said the new group wants Carranza to take stronger to diversify all city schools and not just eight specialized high schools that took center stage in a pitched desegregation debate after Mayor de Blasio in June backed a plan to diversify them.

Tanikawa’s group wants Carranza to adopt recommendations published by the School Diversity Advisory Group that was created by de Blasio in 2017.

In February, the Advisory Group issued a report containing more than 70 suggestions created within a framework of five recommendations formulated in 2018 by a student group called IntegrateNYC.

The so-called 5R’s include a call to consider race in school enrollment decisions, a demand for equitable resources across city schools and a push for culturally responsive lessons in all classrooms.

Tanikawa said Carranza and de Blasio need to heed those recommendations as they move forward with efforts to diversify city schools, which have been identified as some of the most segregated in the United States.

“While Asian students may make up the majority of students in specialized high schools, a large majority of Asian high school students attend non-specialized high schools,” said Tanikawa, who is co-chair of an umbrella group called the Education Council Consortium, which represents the city’s local school boards.

“We need to remind ourselves that our Asian children need school integration as envisioned by 5Rs of integration developed by students because a public school system that is equitable for Black & Latinx students is a system that will also be equitable for our Asian students,” she added.

The Asian American Coalition for Education and other groups filed a lawsuit in December to block part of de Blasio and Carranza’s push to enroll more black and Hispanic kids in top specialized schools. The group of world-famous schools is dominated by Asian and white teens and enrolls very few black and Hispanic students.

City Education Department spokesman Doug Cohen said de Blasio and Carranza are reviewing the recommendations made by the School Diversity Advisory Group and will meet with members of the group soon.

“Families across the city want classrooms that reflect the diversity of our city," Cohen said. "We’re grateful for their advocacy and feedback, and we’ll continue to partner with communities on this important topic.”