Opinions

Public schools need to enforce diversity

Public Advocate Letitia James has called for an investigation into the Renewal Schools Program after many claims have been made that the money is only being wasted and struggling schools are not improving.

The program was introduced by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2014 to help struggling schools through several interventions. Almost four years have passed and many claim there have been few improvements.

The program intended to create community schools, extend school time, supply resources and support for effective school leadership and create a system of goals and consequences for schools that do not meet such goals.

The renewal schools have proven to have very little success in meeting their initial goals, with nine schools already closed. It was also reported that the renewal schools’ enrollment has fallen nearly 25 percent, 12 percent of high school graduates were college-ready and only three of the renewal schools met their goals.

There has also been a lot of criticism about the program’s spending, which has already set out to spend $2.1 million on leadership coaches and $77 million for two-year contracts with 35 nonprofits. It was also reported that schools are hiring unlicensed people as well as teachers with bad records.

De Blasio hoped to help these schools. However, after more than two years since the program started, he has been ignoring solid proof of the program’s success and has decided to continue spending tax money on it. The mayor has not taken an aggressive approach to accomplish what the program intended.

The problems that these schools are facing is a result of social segregation. While a diverse classroom can be very beneficial for a student’s social and academic development, it is ultimately the quality of education and discipline a student has that determines his or her success in school.

Many neighborhoods in New York City tend to be very racially and ethnically homogenous and that is reflected in the schools. For convenience, many parents prefer to enroll their children in a school near their homes and many cannot afford to travel a long distance to a school that will have students of different backgrounds.

While this is a factor that has a great influence on the lack of diversity in classrooms throughout schools in New York, it is pivotal that diversity is taught in school as part of the curriculum.

Social segregation is an immense problem in New York and in the United States as a whole. A program where children can take advantage of this diverse city should be implemented in the education system.

March 27, 2017

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