It's about great public schools.


November 2, 2015

Press Contact: Mitch Schwartz

New York City Councilmembers, Charter & District School Leaders, PTA Leadership, Unite to Confront Crisis in NYC Public School Segregation

New York Urban League’s Arva Rice Moderates Groundbreaking Convening to Discuss Actionable Initiatives to Spur Integration

NEW YORK – New York City Councilmembers, charter and district school leaders and parent activists convened tonight in Brooklyn for a first-of-its-kind panel to confront the segregation crisis in New York City public schools. Hosted by NYC Collaborates, “Diverse Schools: Opportunities and Challenges in Integrating NYC’s Public Schools” discussed the historical roots of school segregation; these continue to play out across New York – even over 60 years after Brown v Board of Education - as well as the current challenges our school system faces and actionable solutions to spur integration.

Lower-income students, especially in communities of color, have suffered from an epidemic of school segregation that has been decades in the making. The problem has drawn some of the brightest minds in the district and charter school communities, but it’s not until now that these diverse stakeholders have united to combine their expertise and experience, and set the city on a path to solving the problem.

Arva Rice, President of New York Urban League, moderated the panel, which featured contributions from a diverse array of panelists, including New York City Council Members Brad Lander and Ritchie Torres; Kevin Ryan- Young, PTA President, PS 133; Jon Rosenberg, CEO, Hebrew Charter School Center; Todd Sutler, Co-Founder, Compass Charter School; Clarence Ellis, Community Superintendent, District 17.

"All schools — including elementary, middle, high, selective schools and charter schools —can do more to increase diversity and become spaces for students of all backgrounds,” said New York City Councilmember Brad Lander (D-39). “I'm looking forward to discussing the opportunities and challenges we all face together at Monday's event."

“It’s vital that conversations about school integration take stock of why the problem persist – but look forward,” said New York City Councilmember Ritchie Torres (D-15). “This panel made some exciting progress and I’m here to engage my colleagues and enact thoughtful fixes that finally integrate the largest school system in the country, once and for all.”

“Collaboration means working hand in hand to take on the tough issues – and persistent school segregation that affects many of New York’s lowest income students fits the bill,” said Jaclyn Leffel, Executive Director of NYC Collaborates. “Starting tonight, a first-time coalition of elected officials, charter and district school leaders and parents have stated not just their commitment to the issue but a determination to work together substantively and measurably to bring about real solutions and create a more equitable system. That’s progress.”

"Because they are not tied to a zone, and don’t “belong” to any one neighborhood, charter schools can play a key role in moving to desegregate our school system as a whole. We now have a number of charter schools that are doing just that,” said James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center. “Alongside policymakers, parents and our committed district partners, we will be looking closely at these schools and how they've taken important steps towards a more integrated public school model that can be applied citywide."

“Fostering innovation by listening to all sides of a vital public policy issue is key to long-term success,” said Arva Rice, President of New York Urban League. “I hope tonight is only the first step in the work of a growing diverse coalition that works across categories and produces thoughtful recommendations so New York can finally move forward and rise to the challenge of this decades-old crisis.”

“School integration has been a driving focus of my work for many years, and it’s time for panels like this to become the ‘new normal,’” said Jon Rosenberg, CEO of Hebrew Charter School Center. “I expect to maintain a lively dialogue with fellow educators, parents and elected officials until we achieve a more fully integrated school system for our students.”

“I feel very fortunate to have grown up in a diverse classroom and I know that diversity adds to the experience and excitement around learning,” said Clarence Ellis, Community Superintendent, District 17. “This is something I value tremendously in District 17 and something that is critical to the Chancellor. I look forward to a meaningful discussion around the importance of diversity, sharing cultures, and ensuring an equitable and excellent education for every New York City student.”

"We believe that integrated schools offer the best opportunity to inform legislators of what true school reform requires,” said Todd Sutler, Co-Founder, Compass Charter School. “I am excited to discuss with elected officials and my district and charter peers how we can leverage the successes of this small community of schools to improve public education across the country.”

“As a parent, I’m looking forward to furthering the work we do every day with committed parents to confront this crisis,” said Kevin Ryan-Young, PTA President, PS 133. “It’s time to move forward into a discussion of what happens after we’ve accomplished the primary goal of a diverse community.”


About NYC Collaborates
NYC Collaborates creates opportunities for educators from all types of public schools to come together to share information and collaborate to improve student achievement. Our members believe that public schools—whether district or charter—have a collective and mutual obligation to ensure that all students in the City graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college, work and life.

Spearheaded by the New York City Charter School Center and New York City’s Department of Education, NYC Collaborates is funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. To learn more visit:

Press Release