NYC School Closings Highlight Class, Racial Divide

An analysis in New York found that a disproportionate number of students affected by the Bloomberg administration’s school closings will be minorities and live in poverty. Special education students will also feel the closings at a higher rate than other students.

Washington Irving High School in New York. Beyond My Ken/City Limits

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This piece originally ran on City Limits.

Compared to their counterparts across New York City, the schools targeted by Mayor Bloomberg’s administration for closure this year have more students of color and more who live in poverty, according to an analysis released Thursday.

The numbers from the Independent Budget Office also show that the 25 schools slated for closure have more students with special education designations than the average school.

Only 1.1 percent of students enrolled in targeted high schools are white versus 13 percent citywide. In lower-grade schools being shut down, 2 percent of kids are white; citywide 15 percent of students in those grades are.

Seventy-seven percent of students at the high schools that are closing live below the poverty line, versus 67 percent of students across all high schools. Among middle and elementary schools slated to close, 86 percent of students are poor; the citywide average for those grades is 78 percent.

Demographic differences between closing schools and other schools varied from dramatic to subtle.

For example, a fifth of high school students at the closing schools have special education status, compared to about an eighth of all high school kids.

But the share of special ed students in middle and elementary schools that are closing, 16.1 percent, was not far from the citywide average of 15 percent. And elementary and middle schools targeted for shutdown actually served lower numbers of English Language Learners (8.4 percent) than the average school (15.7 percent).

The IBO also found that the high schools set to shut down recently absorbed a higher proportion of students who were struggling academically even before they entered the building.

In 2003, for instance, 47 percent of the incoming students at Grace Dodge CTE placed in the lower third of their eighth-grade class on state English tests. In 2010, 61 percent of freshman at Grace Dodge ranked in the lower third. At International Arts Business School, the share of low-scorers rose from one-third of the 2003 incoming class to one half of the freshmen arriving in 2010.

Read the full report here.

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Tags: new york cityracepublic schoolsmichael bloomberg

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