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Mayor de Blasio flat-out admits his goal is to ‘redistribute wealth’ to end racial inequality

Beleaguered progressive New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in a news conference on Friday that he sees the redistribution of wealth as an important factor toward ending structural racism in education. He did so as a preamble to announcing the removal of selection criteria in middle-school applications.

“I’d like to say very bluntly our mission is to redistribute wealth,” he said. “A lot of people bristle at that phrase. That is, in fact, the phrase we need to use. We have been doing this work for seven years to more equitably redistribute resources throughout our school system,” Mayor de Blasio said.

“That means Pre-K for all, 3-K for all, advanced placement courses in every high school including those that never had a single one, it means changing school funding formulas, there are so many things that we’ve tried to do to profoundly balance the equation.”

He continued saying that minority students have been most affected by coronavirus school closures, adding his office would focus on closing the “COVID achievement gap,” that disproportionately hurts kids without access to tech resources while distance learning.

The changes are intended to address concerns that the admissions policies for selective middle and high schools have discriminated against Black and Latino students.

NYC’s mayor announced several admissions changes in the city aimed at fighting segregation in selective schools, including expanding diversity planning in every district, eliminating geographic priority for the next two years, and expanding grant applications to more districts.

“We can never accept a broken status quo,” de Blasio said. “We can never go back to a past that didn’t work. … The COVID era has taught us that so clearly, and we need to do better and we will. And that means a commitment to fighting disparities and inequality in the life of New York City.”

Beginning for the 2021 school year, middle schools will have a one-year pause on the criteria used for admissions screening. That includes state exams, which were canceled this year due to Covid-19.

“These changes will help ensure that our classrooms reflect the great diversity that is New York City and its also a true representation of values that we hold dear as a city — that equity, inclusivity, and accepting nothing less than excellence for all children is at the cornerstone of what we do,” Education Chancellor Richard Carranza said Friday.

For schools that receive more applications than they can accept, admissions will be decided through a lottery-based system, Carranza added.

The mayor said in a statement to the Times that the coronavirus pandemic “has exposed longstanding inequities in our city’s public schools.”

“Now, as we rebuild our city, we are expanding opportunities for all public school students and doubling down on our mission to provide a quality education for all, regardless of a child’s ZIP code,” he said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said a lottery system that encourages all students to know their options and apply “clearly has a diversity impact,” as does inviting schools to “end their screens entirely.”

“I really believe when you get a community dialogue going, when through the local school board people engage, understand how you can get better and better schools and more and more diversity in the classroom at the same time, that’s actually what creates lasting change,” he said.

“All of that is baked in here,” he said of the plan.

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