The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc. (CHCF)

Before the Hearing on Diversity in New York City Schools

City Council’s Education Committee

CHCF supports proposed Introduction No. 511-2014A requiring the Department of Education to render annual reports on progress and efforts toward increasing diversity in schools, including data within charter schools and special programs, and including dual language programs. Our organization also agrees with resolutions 0453-2014 and 0442-2014: respectively a) calling for the Department of Education to officially recognize the benefits of school diversity and b) calling upon the New York State legislature to pass and the Governor to sign S.7738/A.9979 to change admission criteria for NYC’s nine specialized schools.

Since 1982, CHCF has combined education and advocacy to expand opportunities for children and families and strengthen the voice of the Latino community. We work tirelessly to involve families in all aspects of their children’s education, by providing workshops and instruction on the common core standards, college exposure and access, effective school partnerships, and by implementing program activities that build and foster positive relationships among parents as well as between families and their children. CHCF believes that the most effective way to support Latino families is by building upon their existing strengths and fostering self-sufficiency.

However, self-sufficiency will go only so far when hindered by both overt and nuanced discrimination, as can be found in our public school systems. This is why CHCF supports the proposed Introduction and Resolutions.

Proposed Int. No. 511-2014 AAnnual Reporting on racial and socio-economic data:

  • Although the New York City Department of Education has improved its process of collecting student demographics, there is considerable room for improvement. Gathering and posting data disaggregated by grade level from pre-k to 12, as the proposed legislation delineates, would help to accurately track the number of Latino children and English Language Learner students, their socio-economic backgrounds, their progress and the support and services they receive and need throughout their schooling.
  • This research would also help determine, with accuracy, the number of homes where a language other than English is spoken; the proficiency of English spoken in the home; and level of research focused on ELL students.
  • The data collected through this proposed legislation will also help determine the exact numbers of enrolled students in charter schools, their admission criteria, their method of enrollment, their population of ELL students, and their waitlists, among other issues. While CHCF is not against charter schools, they are privately-run schools using public funds, and, in increasing instances, public spaces. It is necessary that they be held accountable for inequities in enrollment, offer more bilingual and dual language programs and provide transparent financial structures.
  • While data collection is a necessary and useful first step, the information gathered must be used to create and reinforce programs that work for and reach all of our children.

Resolution 453-2014 – Reporting about increasing diversity in schools

  • New York State indeed has the most segregated school systems in the country.
  • A strong, official position will help increase plans for integration and dismantle our segregated system currently ghettoized by race and poverty level.
  • Our children need to be exposed to other ethnicities, experience cultural diversity, learn other languages, and know that there is a greater world beyond the borders of their boroughs.
  • This exposure can only strengthen the bonds among our students and increase trust and levels of engagement within communities – mollifying any existing or potential racism.
  • Our schools need to reflect the increasing racial and demographic transformation of NYC’s population; and raise the public’s awareness about the value of diverse educational settings for all of our children.
  • We must implement civil rights standards and acknowledge that education is a basic human right.

Resolutions 442-2014 – Specialized schools

  • CHCF agrees with the resolution that the City’s Specialized High Schools Admissions Tests are inherently unfair and exclude a major section of the City’s student population, mainly African Americans and Latinos.
  • We need to elevate our children above whatever socio-economic barriers impede them from overcoming an admittance policy exemplified by a single, racially discriminatory entrance exam.
  • Admittance to these specialized schools must revolve around other factors, such as overall performance in school, teacher input, interviews, etc.

CHCF practices what it preaches. We provide services through Youth Development programs, an Early Care & Education Institute, and the Latino Family Policy Center. CHCF’s model is innovative in its effective inclusion of cultural and linguistic competencies to effect change. Our grassroots focus makes us one of the few Latino organizations in NYC that combines direct services with policy work that amplifies Latino voices at the local, state and national levels. To that end, CHCF formed the Latino Coalition on Early Care and Education (LCECE) in 2007 to bring attention to the educational needs of Latino children. LCECE is committed to increasing the availability and quality of culturally and linguistically appropriate child care and early education for Latino children and all English Language Learners (ELLs) at both the city and state levels.

Thank you.

The full text of Proposed Int. No. 511-A-2014 can be found at the following link on the Council’s website: http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1946653&GUID=7329D54A-4E94-443D-9411-BCF5CC0C65D8&Options=Advanced&Search=

The full text of Res. 453-2014 can be found at the following link on the Council’s website: http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1946667&GUID=978FDCA7-DD2F-48B9-91A2-DD01BD96A9A1&Options=Advanced&Search=

The full text of Res. 453-2014 can be found at the following link on the Council’s website: http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1946627&GUID=4431C817-A0F1-42E6-9284-1FF2843326AE&Options=Advanced&Search=

 

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