Two Brooklyn school districts will be receiving $200,000 each to develop their own community-driven school diversity and integration plans, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday. 

District 13, which includes Fort Greene, Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights and Gowanus, and District 16, which covers Bedford Stuyvesant, are two of five districts that were selected for the city’s $2 million school diversity grant program.

The mayor, joined by Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, also announced that the city will be adopting 62 recommendations from the School Diversity Advisory Group. Launched in 2017, the SDAG is a task force, comprised of students, educators, parents, advocates and researchers, that advises the mayor and the chancellor on policies to advance school diversity and integration.

“There’s no one who knows better how to diversify our school system than our students, parents and teachers,” said de Blasio. “Accepting the School Diversity Advisory Group’s recommendations and awarding diversity grants to five new school districts are crucial steps forward toward ensuring that every student, no matter their zip code, has access to a school where they can thrive, and a natural next step for our Equity and Excellence agenda.”

Beginning in late 2017, the group held nearly 40 meetings to facilitate research and discussion of policies related to diversity. Additionally, it hosted eight public town halls, including one in every borough and two specifically for youth, to collect quantitative and qualitative data from communities on the issues important to them.

In February, the SDAG issued a preliminary report detailing the history, data and key issues surrounding school diversity and integration in NYC, as well as an initial set of 67 recommendations on school enrollment, budget priorities, restorative justice practices, staff diversity, culturally responsive curriculum and diversity metrics and goals, among other topics. 

The recommendations include adding diversity metrics to its School Quality Report, requiring schools to monitor student discipline practices to reduce disparities, creating new targets for Diversity in Admissions pilots based and adopting a common definition of Culturally Relevant Education that will inform and shape work across the DOE.

“Our schools should represent the diversity that makes our city so great and the recommendations being implemented will help achieve that,” said Assemblymember Walter T. Mosley, who represents the 57th District including Fort Greene and Bedford Stuyvesant. “By taking input from our communities, this advisory group has come up with a real plan to increase diversity and ensure culturally relevant education.”

The five school districts receiving grant funding were selected from a pool of 17 applicants that applied with the Department of Education; five more districts will be announced later this year, officials said. Schools can use the funding to consult with community planning firms, create working groups and host community meetings to help create their final diversity and integration strategies. 

For a complete list of SDAG recommendations, go here.

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Andrea Leonhardt

“Made in Germany,” Andrea Leonhardt is the managing editor for BK Reader. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in American studies and education, and a master’s...

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