Fireworks are expected at a Wednesday City Council hearing on the hot-button issue of racial segregation in the city’s public schools.
Council Education Committee Chair Mark Tregyer invited students, school officials and families to the public discussion of a half-dozen bills and several resolutions aimed at easing racial division in the city’s public schools, which are among the most segregated in the country.
Tregyer, a former city teacher, said the hearing at City Hall is chance for everyone involved in the public schools to have their say about a topic that’s caught fire since Mayor de Blasio unveiled a plan to to desegregate a group of elite specialized high schools in June.
“We need solutions, and this requires critical conversations about integration, inclusion and equity,” said Treyger (D-Brooklyn). “For far too long, system-wide segregation has persisted because of intransigence and lack of political will.”
Treyger said the meeting will kick off with testimony from city students who will share their own experiences with racial segregation and ideas for next steps.
City schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, an outspoken backer of de Blasio’s integration push, will also testify.
“The Chancellor is excited to discuss the work we’re doing to integrate our schools and advance equity now,” said Education Department spokesman Doug Cohen.
De Blasio and Carranza seek to lessen school segregation through a number of efforts including a plan to replace the admissions test used by famed specialized schools including Brooklyn Technical High School, the Bronx High School of Science and Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan.
That plan has proved popular with New Yorkers, according to a recent poll, but faces powerful opposition from alumni groups and other interests.
A new advocacy outfit backed by billionaire Bronx Science grad Ron Lauder, called the Education Equity Campaign, made waves for coming out against the effort in April.
But Campaign spokesman Kirsten John Foy said the group backs all six bills to promote school diversity that will be discussed at Wednesday’s hearing.
“There are real and longstanding inequities in our city’s schools, and we’re not going to address them by burying our heads in the sand and throwing out proposals that are all sizzle, no solution,” said Foy, a minister and former official with Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.