Diversity Initiative Among New York City Schools Are Getting Bigger

By , UniversityHerald Reporter

A program's aim to diversify schools in New York City is getting bigger and bigger. These schools are a mix of elementary, middle and high schools. Will colleges and universities join the initiative next?

The New York Times reported that several elementary schools were allowed to change their admissions policies last year. With this, they gave disadvantaged students priority for a number of seats in the school.

Some of them reserved seats for students who are qualified for a free or reduced-price lunch while others gave it to students who are learning English. One school prioritized students in the child welfare system while another focused on helping students with family members who are in prison.

The publication noted that 12 other schools will be joining the program and have initiated their own admissions proposals. The new admissions priority is expected to reverse a shift in demographics among New York City schools.

An example would be the East Village Community School which is a nonzoned elementary school in Manhattan that uses the lottery for admitting students. It gives priority to kids living in District 1 and it will also be giving half of its prekindergarten and kindergarten seats to children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch or to those who are learning English.

The school has become popular in the area and its students have become wealthier recently. The proportion of students who qualified for free lunch or reduced-price lunch have decreased from 36 percent to 21 percent while those learning English decreased from 3 percent to 1 percent.

Central Park East High School, also in Manhattan, has confirmed that it plans to reserve 64 percent of seats for students who qualify for free lunch. Principal Bennett Lieberman added that, currently, 76 percent of students in the school qualify for free lunch. "It's vitally important to me that the school maintain its current level of diversity," he told the publication in a phone call.

The City College of New York came in second place on WSJ's ranking for schools with the most diversity. More than half of its undergraduates received Pell Grants, a government subsidy for low-income students.

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