New York City Council holds hearing on racial segregation in schools

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The New York City Council held a public hearing Wednesday on several measures focused on ending racial segregation in the city's schools.

The first witnesses to testify were students who said they were frustrated with the segregation in New York City and that there is not equal opportunity.

The students want the City Council to make desegregation a priority.

Two-thirds of the students in the city school system are black or Latino, but they account for just 10% of students in the city's most elite public schools.

Critics say that needs to change.

"Let us address the fact that 65 years after Brown vs. the Board of Education, we are still struggling with the idea of separate but equal," said Sokhnadiarra Ndiaye, of Teens Take Charge, a student-led advocacy group. "Let us address the fact that we are the most diverse city in the world, yet we have one of the most segregated school systems in the country. That is shameful, that is a student coming to talk to you about that. I should be in class, learning about commas."

The council is considering half a dozen bills that would expand gifted and talented programs, which were cut back under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

They also want a resolution urging state lawmakers to change admission standards to the elite high schools.

"We have no illusions," Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said. "Meaningful integration of a system of 1,800 schools is tough work, and we know that it will not happen overnight. What is more, integration means different things to different communities. It is not just about the movement of bodies or getting black and Latino students access to certain schools, it's much more than that."

The chancellor and the mayor are facing criticism for considering changing the admission standards for the elite high schools. Specifically, much of that criticism is coming from Asian-American families who believe a test is the best standard.

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