For years, New York City has essentially maintained two parallel public school systems.
A group of selective schools and programs aimed at students labeled as talented and talented is mainly made up of white and Asian kids. The rest of the system is open to all students and is predominantly black and Hispanic.
A high-level group appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio has recommended that the city remove most of these selective programs with the aim of removing the system, which has 1.1 million students and is by far the most important from the country.
Mr de Blasio, who has bet his mayor on the reduction of inequalities, has the power to adopt all or part of the proposals without contribution from the state legislature or municipal council. If it did, the decision would fundamentally change a largely segregated school system and could have repercussions in school districts across the country.
The mayor will now be immersed in the center of a sensitive debate about race and class at home, even as he strives to stand out in a field filled with Democratic presidential candidates.
It risks alienating tens of thousands of mostly white people and Asian families whose children are enrolled gifted programs and selective schools. If a significant number of these families leave the system, integration would be even more difficult.
The proposals, contained in a report to be published on Tuesday, can also face the opposition of Some black and middle-class Hispanic families have called for more gifted programs in most minority neighborhoods to provide students of color with better access to high quality schools.
Nevertheless, the plan could affect Black and Hispanic families who believe that these selective programs unfairly divert money and attention from neighborhood schools.
The plan includes all gifted elementary school programs, selected colleges and some high schools – with the exception of Stuyvesant High School and seven other elite high schools in the city, whose admissions are partially controlled by Albany.
Gifted programs and preselected schools have "become substitutes for separating students who can and should have the opportunity to learn together," wrote the panel, made up of dozens of education experts.
About a quarter of middle and middle schools in the city require students to be selected – through exams, attendance rates and grades – to be admitted. New York selects more students for its schools than any other city in the country, and these schools tend to have a disproportionate number of white and Asian registrations.
Some of the political left have criticized Mr de Blasio for not having demonstrated his will to implement major policies of desegregation.
But Richard A. Carranza, chancellor of the school, has made desegregation its main concern when he took office in 2018, denouncing racial inequalities and promising radical actions. He specifically asked if too many students were labeled "gifted".
Mr Carranza has not developed any significant integration policy in its first year of operation and its contribution to the proposals will be a definitive test of its willingness to push for dramatic and unpopular changes in the desegregation of schools.
Nevertheless, the mayor has the last word on the approval of the recommendations.
The jury report, obtained by the New York Times, is equivalent to a rejection of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's education program, which has shifted the system towards family choice for the school, including more gifted and filtered schools, to fight against decades of poor performance.
Some of these policies exacerbated inequalities as student achievement increased. Mr de Blasio has strongly criticized his predecessor's educational philosophy, but he must now decide to dismantle some of the structures that Mr Bloomberg helped build.
The panel recommended that the city replaces the gifted and filtered schools with new Magnet schools – which have been used in other cities to attract a diverse group of students interested in a particular subject subject – as well as enrichment programs open to students with varied academic abilities.
If the mayor adopts the recommendations, primary schools and colleges will no longer be able to admit students solely or largely on the basis of standardized exams or other academic prerequisites, and high schools will have diversity requirements. .
The panel felt that other means of admission should be chosen by the Ministry of Education and Districts.
Although it may be months before the mayor makes his decision, the publication of these recommendations may trigger a fierce battle in a system of public schools with nearly 70% of Blacks and Hispanics and having mostly modest incomes.
Even a partial removal of selective academic programs would have a profound effect on many of the 1,800 schools in the city.
Last year, gifted classes in elementary schools in New York welcomed about 16,000 students and nearly 75 percent of Whites and Asians. Black and Hispanic enrollment in programs has fallen over the past decade, after Bloomberg attempted to diversify by creating a test-based admission threshold. turned against him.
If these students move into private schools or suburbs, "it will become even more difficult to create high quality integrated schools" in New York, says the report. The panel wrote that "high achievers deserve to be challenged", but in different ways.
The mayor and the chancellor were both without engagement.
"I thank the School Diversity Advisory Group for their hard work on behalf of equity and excellence within our system, and I look forward to reviewing their recommendations. Said Mr. de Blasio. Mr. Carranza promised to "take steps to ensure that all students have access to a rich and rigorous education".
The panel presented the mayor and the chancellor with a plan for a general revision of its selective academic offer, while leaving many details to the city.
The city should get rid of the standardized admission exam for gifted elementary school programs, which is offered to prospective kindergarten students and sparked an expensive home-made test preparation industry for toddlers said the panel.
Mr de Blasio should also impose a moratorium on new gifted programs, stop most academic groupings and phase out existing gifted courses by not admitting new students, the panel said. If the recommendations were accepted, New York would abandon its current offers in about five years.
To integrate high schools, the panel recommended that the city do not open new selected high schools, eliminate geographical areas as admission criteria and disregard delays or attendance in the assessment of future students.
The commission should also rethink its competitive admission process in high schools to ensure secondary schools reflect the racial and economic makeup of their boroughs, the panel said.
The highly variable quality of neighborhood elementary schools in the city, which have become increasingly separate since the 1970s, is the most intractable problem in the public school system.
Although Mr. de Blasio has promised to create a school system in which the idea of "good schools" and "bad schools" becomes obsolete, dozens of schools are extremely inefficient and many of them are struggling.
While the city has been trying for decades to improve its inefficient schools, it has long relied on accelerated academic offerings and preselected schools, including high schools, to encourage white families to stay in public schools.
But at the same time, white, Asian and middle class families sometimes have exacerbated segregation by avoiding neighborhood schools and instead choosing gifted programs or other selective schools. In gentrified neighborhoods, some white parents have mobilized for more gifted classes, which has sometimes led to separate classrooms in various schools.
The application system for gifted classes, which can start from the age of 4, tends to favor wise parents who have the opportunity to visit schools and, in some cases, money to spend on test preparation.
Nevertheless, according to the report, a system that relies heavily on sorting students according to their academic abilities "is not fair, even if it is effective for some".