18,500 Parents, Students, and Educators Rally to Demand End to “Tale of Two School Systems” in New York City

With 478,000 Children Stuck in Failed Schools, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. Leads Call for End to Education Inequality


Grammy, Oscar, and Golden Globe Award Winner Jennifer Hudson, Grammy Award Winning DJ and Producer DJ Jazzy Jeff, and Grammy Nominated Aloe Blacc Perform for Parents and Join More than One Hundred Schools in Attendance

LINK TO VIDEO: http://www.crewcuts.com/client_login/rally_10-07

Link to Flickr Photos:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/dontstealpossible/sets/72157659599257625


NEW YORK, NY — Holding signs charging “Separate and Unequal, Still” and “Great Schools Now,” 18,500 parents, students, and educators rallied in Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza on Wednesday, demanding an end to education inequality that traps 478,000 New York City children—90% of whom are black and Hispanic—in a separate and unequal system of failed schools. After the rally, hundreds continued on to march across the Brooklyn Bridge to join Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. at a press conference on the steps of City Hall.


Grammy, Oscar and Golden Globe Award Winner Jennifer Hudson, international DJ and producer DJ Jazzy Jeff, and Grammy-Nominated Aloe Blacc performed for parents at the rally, amplifying the call for bold action for every child in New York City to receive equal access to excellent education.

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Speakers to the crowd of 18,500 assailed the “Tale of Two School Systems” that foreclosed opportunity for children trapped in failed schools.  According to a recent study on educational mobility by Families for Excellent Schools, A Tale of Two Schools, students attend one of two distinct sets of schools that are walled off from each other. The 116,000 students attending the city’s top 141 schools are essentially guaranteed academic success because their elementary schools commonly feed into the city’s best middle and high schools. But in a separate, unequal, and effectively segregated set of 850 schools, 478,000 students (90% of color, 89% living in poverty) are consistently trapped in low-performing schools, with only a fraction able to escape and attend a quality school. The number of students locked in this inferior school system is bigger than the entire school districts of Dallas, Washington DC, and Boston combined.

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Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. tapped into the crowd’s frustration that the city had allowed educational inequality to define its schools, telling them that the city had an obligation to put politics aside and support high-quality charter schools that could give black and Hispanic students the same quality education that white and Asian students enjoyed:


“How can we be against this? How can we deny the families and the children this possibility? This equality?” asked Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.


“For too many kids in this city, zip code determines destiny,” said Grammy-nominated Aloe Blacc. “There are 478,000 mostly black and Hispanic students trapped in a system of schools that are failing them. In reality, this is not one system, but two — separate and unequal — and children of color are the ones who suffer.”

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While hundreds of district schools have failed black and Hispanic students in New York City, charter schools have proven to be effective in bridging the city’s racial achievement gap. Black and Hispanic students in the city’s charter schools performed nearly twice as well on math (42.8% proficient) than in district schools (22% proficient) and nearly 50% better on English Language Arts (28.1% proficient in charter schools; 19.5% proficient in district schools).


Yet the de Blasio administration has shown a determination to block the growth of charter schools, consistently throwing up bureaucratic roadblocks as a means of refusing to grant charter schools space in public buildings.


Parent speakers told stories of their children being trapped in failed schools while Mayor de Blasio’s administration abandoned education promises and offered only incremental steps in his first two years in office. Parents demanded immediate access to excellent schools, particularly public charter schools, not more rhetoric and incremental change:


“For my family, these two school systems are a matter of life and death,” said Jessica Ramos. “We’re going to rally, and march, and organize our communities. We’re going to fight back against these separate and unequal schools.”


“It’s time for the Mayor to stop opposing charter schools, and give families access to the schools they want. It’s time for the Mayor to live up to the promises he made to New York families. It’s time to end this Tale of Two School Systems!” said Zarida Teel.


Key Statistics on New York City’s Educational Inequality:


Where a student is zoned for elementary school becomes the most important criteria for predicting whether a child is able to graduate from high school college-ready. The odds against a child who starts out in a failed school ever attending a better one are extraordinary:

  • Quality middle schools are common destinations for students in low-performing elementary schools only 1.6% of the time.
    ·      Quality high schools are common destinations for students in low-performing middle schools only 3.3% of the time.

A Tale of Two School Systems:

School System #1: Higher-Performing Schools
·      In these 141 tightly linked schools, at least 60% of students meet academic standards. Of the 116,000 students in this system, only 29% are children of color (compared to 78% for all other public schools).

School System #2: Below-Average Schools
·      In these 850 interconnected schools, no more than 30% of students meet academic standards. Of the 478,000 students in this system, 90% are black or Hispanic.

Mayor de Blasio’s Renewal and Community School efforts are not helping children of color:

·      There are 293 NYC schools where more than 90% of students failed to read or do math at grade level on this year’s statewide assessments; Mayor de Blasio’s effort encompasses only 94 schools.
·      More than half of all Renewal Schools showed declines in either ELA or math: proficiency rates at 34 of the 63 elementary and middle renewal schools declined in either ELA or math. Eleven Renewal Schools reported declines on both assessments. On average, Renewal Schools were just 7.1% proficient.

The achievement gap in NYC is widening:

·      Academic gains for white and Asian students outpaced those for black and Hispanic students in this year’s ELA and math assessments, widening the racial achievement gap.
·      The top quarter of schools are improving twice as fast the bottom quarter.
·      The bottom quarter of schools enrolls students who are 96% black and Hispanic.

List of schools in attendance:


Achievement First Apollo Elementary School

Achievement First Apollo Middle School

Achievement First Aspire Elementary School

Achievement First Brooklyn High School

Achievement First Brownsville Elementary School

Achievement First Brownsville Middle School

Achievement First Bushwick Elementary School

Achievement First Bushwick Middle School

Achievement First Crown Heights Elementary School

Achievement First Crown Heights Middle School

Achievement First Endeavor Elementary School

Achievement First Endeavor Middle School

Achievement First East New York Elementary School

Achievement First East New York Middle School

Achievement First Linden Elementary School

Achievement First North Brooklyn Prep Elementary School

Coney Island Prep Elementary School

Coney Island Prep Middle School

Coney Island Prep High School

KIPP Academy Elementary School

KIPP Academy Middle School

KIPP AMP Elementary School

KIPP AMP Middle School

KIPP Infinity Elementary School

KIPP Infinity Middle School

KIPP NYC College Prep High School

KIPP STAR Elementary Washington Heights

KIPP STAR Harlem College Prep Elementary School

KIPP STAR Middle School

KIPP Washington Heights Middle School

KIPP Through College

Girls Prep Bronx Elementary School

Girls Prep Bronx Middle School

Girls Prep Lower East Side Elementary School

Girls Prep Lower East Side Middle School

Boys Prep Bronx Elementary School


Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School

Bed-Stuy Collegiate Charter School

Brownsville Collegiate Charter School

Excellence Boys Elementary Academy

Excellence Boys Middle Academy

Excellence Girls Elementary Academy

Excellence Girls Middle Academy

Kings Collegiate Charter School

Leadership Prep Bed-Stuy Elementary Academy

Leadership Prep Bed-Stuy Middle Academy

Leadership Prep Brownsville Elementary Academy

Leadership Prep Brownsville Middle Academy

Leadership Prep Canarsie Elementary Academy

Leadership Prep Canarsie Middle Academy

Leadership Prep Ocean Hill Elementary Academy

Leadership Prep Ocean Hill Middle Academy

Ocean Hill Collegiate Charter School

Uncommon Collegiate Charter High School

Uncommon Charter High School

Uncommon Prep Charter High School

Williamsburg Collegiate Charter School

Success Academy – Harlem 1

Success Academy – Harlem 2

Success Academy – Harlem 3 Lower

Success Academy – Harlem 3 Upper

Success Academy – Harlem 4

Success Academy – Harlem 5

Success Academy – Bronx 1

Success Academy – Bronx 2

Success Academy – Bronx 3 Lower

Success Academy – Bronx 3 Upper

Success Academy – Bronx 4

Success Academy – Bronx 1 Middle School

Success Academy – Bronx 2 Middle School

Success Academy – Bed-Stuy 2

Success Academy – Bed-Stuy 1

Success Academy – Bed-Stuy Middle School

Success Academy – Upper West

Success Academy – Cobble Hill

Success Academy – Williamsburg

Success Academy – Harlem East

Success Academy – Harlem Central

Success Academy – Hell’s Kitchen

Success Academy – Union Square

Success Academy – Fort Greene

Success Academy – Prospect Heights

Success Academy – Crown Heights

Success Academy – Harlem North Central

Success Academy – Bensonhurst

Success Academy – Bergen Beach

Success Academy – Springfield Gardens

Success Academy – Rosedale

Success Academy – Washington Heights

Success Academy – Harlem North West

Success Academy – Harlem West

Success Academy – High School of the Liberal Arts

Success Academy – Midtown West

NYC Coalition of Community Charter Schools

Renaissance Charter School

Aguila, Inc.

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