Federal Civil Rights Complaint: NYC Schools Set Up to Fail

OTL allies from the Campaign for Fiscal Equity and Education Law Center are helping parents and community groups from New York City file a federal civil rights complaint against the city's Department of Education (NYDOE). They're charging that the high school admissions process is concentrating high-needs students in schools that can't meet their needs, thereby setting the schools up for failure and denying students a fair opportunity to learn.  

The complaint, which addresses issues at 386 high schools, reveals "that Black and Latino students are more likely than White students to end up in high schools with high concentrations of high-needs students (overage/undercredited students or students with low proficiency levels). 87 percent of schools with the highest concentration of high-needs students are predominately minority schools (over 90% African-American or Latino), and those schools have a 47.5% graduation rate, as compared to the city's average graduation rate of 65.1%."

What's worse, the NYDOE has known for years how this system is affecting students:

"The complaint also shows that the NYDOE ignored its own evidence that the high school admissions process sets up minority schools for failure. First in 2006, and again in 2008, the NYDOE was formally put on notice by the Parthenon Group, an outside consulting firm hired by NYDOE to examine high school admissions, that concentrating students with the highest needs in any one school increases the overall chances of student failure and school closure. Yet, despite this evidence NYDOE has continued to concentrate the highest need students in minority schools, creating a vicious cycle that has doomed more minority schools to closure."

The result is what the Schott Foundation for Public Education called "education redlining" in a report released last spring analyzing the opportunities available to students across NYC. Like the old banking practices that denied resources to certain "redlined" communities, the city's education policies are denying entire communities the educational resources and opportunities they deserve. 

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