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May 25, 2019

City Council may create office to fix racial segregation in schools

May 25, 2018
Councilman Ritchie Torres (l.) is pushing a bill to create an office of school integration. (Richard Drew/AP)

A new office to combat segregation of city schools would be created under a bill introduced Wednesday in the City Council.

The legislation by Councilman Ritchie Torres would create an office of school integration as part of the Human Rights Commission, which enforces city anti-discrimination laws.

The office would study the causes of racial segregation in schools and recommend ways to make them more diverse.

City schools are deeply divided by race, but some white parents in well-off neighborhoods have resisted efforts to make them more racially balanced, saying it would deprive their kids of the chance to go to the high-performing schools where they’ve earned spots.

A large majority of city schools are considered intensely segregated, meaning more than 90% of the student body is kids of color.

Mayor de Blasio shied away from even using the word segregation for years, but his new schools chancellor, Richard Carranza, has spoken more bluntly about the issue. Still, the city has so far pursued only modest tweaks to increase diversity.

“The political establishment has no real sense of urgency. There has to be an institution that is advocating for children of color who face discrimination in segregated schools,” said Torres (D-Bronx). “The longer we keep public education segregated, the longer we discriminate against students of color — and the longer we deny them a shot at a decent life.”

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