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NYC bar association wants school segregation fix


A diverse group of NYC school students (Ridofranz/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A group representing more than 24,000 New York lawyers wants to desegregate city schools by removing all admissions screening for kids from kindergarten through the eighth grade.

In a letter sent to Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and members of the city’s School Diversity Advisory Group on Wednesday, the New York City Bar Association called for the end of competitive admissions for elementary- and middle-school programs and schools.

In the letter, the City Bar offered several reasons for calling for an end to competitive admissions screens, which are believed to contribute to school segregation.

The City Bar argued that “measures of young children’s ability and behavior through competitive admission screening and testing are unreliable and racially biased” and stated that the practice “is inequitable and conducive to racial hierarchy.”

About 25% of city middle schools and about 1% of all city elementary schools fully screen admissions through test scores and other factors.

The City Bar’s Civil Rights Committee Chair Philip Desgranges said the practice denies city kids’ equal access to educational opportunity in the public school system, which is one of the most racially segregated in the country.

“No one should accept an unquestionably flawed system that year after year closes the doors of many of our schools to the majority of young children from historically disadvantaged racial groups and economic backgrounds," Desgranges said

City Education Department spokesman Doug Cohen said schools Chancellor Richard Carranza is already considering changes to the screens.

“The Chancellor is taking a close look at how schools utilize academic screens and whether they serve as barriers to access and equity," Cohen said. "Our schools are stronger when they reflect the diversity of our city.”