Advocating for integrated schools and communities

Fall 2021 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

In the 11th hour of New York City’s current mayoral administration, I find myself reflecting on nearly a decade of advocacy efforts that have led to several policy wins for integrated schools. Despite the extreme lack of urgency shown by the de Blasio administration; advocacy efforts by New York Appleseed, alongside efforts by parents, students, educators and other community advocates, have led to great strides toward meaningful integration. Some of our accomplishments include:


  • A set-aside pilot program instituted at one elementary school in 2012 led to the Diversity in Admissions program in NYC that currently boasts over 160 participating programs. 
  • The NYC Department of Education adopted a formal policy statement in support of integration in 2017.
  • The adoption of 62 recommendations made by the School Diversity Advisory Group provided foundational goals toward equity and integration for NYC schools.
  • Elimination of middle school screens for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle.
  • Centralization and standardization of the 2020-2021 high school admissions process. 

We get to add to this substantial list as Appleseed celebrates the recent announcement of the elimination of segregated Gifted and Talented programs. Since 2014, Appleseed has called for eliminating the practice of separating and segregating our youngest children from each other based on the subjectivity of “giftedness.” Instead of doing a terrible job providing accelerated learning for a very limited few, NYC now has the potential to build schoolwide enrichment models that offer enriched and accelerated learning opportunities to all students. 

While recent wins have been seminal to forwarding meaningful integration in NYC, there is still much work to be done. I do not believe the current administration that promised to end the “Tale of Two Cities,” fulfilled that promise. On the cusp of solidifying the building blocks necessary for meaningful integration, it is imperative that our new mayor and policymakers do not take a tragic misstep by trying to return to a “normal” that perpetuates inequalities and fuels segregation. Luckily for the incoming administration, New York Appleseed and other advocates are ready to hold newly elected officials accountable for what all students deserve – an equitable and integrated quality education. 


Nyah Berg

interim executive director

Coalition Building and Leadership

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New York Appleseed was proud to work with Fordham Law Feerick Center’s New York City High School Application Advisory Committee (HSAAC) Subcommittee on Rubrics for Screened Programs on the recent report, The Next Step: Prioritizing Equity and Recovery in NYC High School Admissions. This report follows last year's report, Public Schools Public Oversight, which emphasized the need for equity and transparency in the NYC high school admissions process, especially in the middle of a global pandemic. The Next Step report calls for: 

  • The permanent elimination of middle school screens.
  • The requirement that high schools "opt-in" to screening (making unscreened schools the default) and mandate equitable admissions priorities.
  • The significant enhancement of supports for students and families, with dedicated funding, for the admissions process.

Read our recommendations here that explain how to prioritize equity and recovery - leading us towards an integrated future with a school system that is just, equitable and integrated. 

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This fall, New York Appleseed gathered with fellow members of the Integration Coalition to outline priorities for the final 100 days of the de Blasio administration and the first 100 days of the Adams administration. The priorities are a call to action for City leadership to fulfill promises set since the call to end “a Tale of Two Cities” in favor of truly integrated schools. To forward meaningful integration, we provide guidance for the implementation of three asks: 

  • The implementation of 21st-century student assignment policies that increase access, promote inclusivity, and actively work to repair the historical harm of segregation.
  • The creation of conditions and accountability structures necessary for Real Integration.
  • The development of community outreach efforts that elevate the voice of parents, students, and community members in decision-making processes.

Read more here about what necessary steps should be taken by the outgoing and incoming administrations to desegregate and integrate NYC public schools, and provide equity and excellence for all NYC students.

With #GivingTuesday around the corner on November 30th, this is a perfect time to make a financial contribution to support New York Appleseed's continued efforts to advocate for integrated schools and communities.

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New York Appleseed in the Media

  • For the second time this year, our interim executive director, Nyah Berg has been identified as a powerful leader in education! She is recognized as one of the Top Power Players in Education by Politics NY for her tireless commitment to combating school segregation and advocating for Real Integration. We are thankful not only for her guidance as the interim executive director of New York Appleseed but also proud of her powerful leadership and dedication in making formative strides towards meaningful integration in NYC.

  • Following the announcement of the elimination of NYC's Gifted and Talented programs, interim executive director, Nyah Berg, was asked to share her thoughts with Spectrum News NY 1. She is quoted in this article and video clip stating, “Separate is never going to be equal, and a program that does that is already broken.” She commended the City for making the long-overdue decision to eliminate a program that separates and segregates students at such a young age

  • New York Appleseed’s work with the Integration Coalition was also made public in the New York Daily News article upon release of our priorities for real integration for de Blasio’s last 100 days in office and Adam’s first 100 days.

Panel Discussions with New York Appleseed

Planning for Equity: How Comprehensive Planning Can Advance Racial & Economic Justice

In October, interim executive director, Nyah Berg, spoke at the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development’s annual conference on the panel, Planning for Equity: How Comprehensive Planning Can Advance Racial and Economic Justice.

In her comments, Nyah explained how the current system inadequately supplies systemic solutions for clear systemic disparities. Meaningful community involvement is often thwarted through the siloing and tokenizing of community input. The panel highlighted how comprehensive planning supports both accountability and accessibility by creating transparency, centering the most marginalized communities, and providing the conditions for community leadership. At the end of her remarks, Nyah made a call for courageous policy to accompany the courageous conversations that we have been having.

Critical Race Theory and Its Role in Classrooms

On November 6, Nyah Berg joined other panelists at Start Lighthouse's Virtual Decolonizing Education Hackathon to discuss critical race theory (CRT) and its role in classrooms. Their dialogue included defining critical race theory and its use as a theoretical framework that challenges the way race and racial power is constructed in American society. The conversation also provided a critique on the way CRT has been weaponized against anything related to increasing equity in our school systems. Moreover, the panelists' dialogue cultivated a space in which a diverse and passionate group of individuals composed of educators, administrators, students, and community members could engage in learning, networking, and solution development to one of the most pressing issues concerning our education system today.

Upcoming Events

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ASID Collectively for Equity Gatherings

New York Appleseed's Integrated Schools Project Associate, Lena Dalke, has been supporting ASID's new gathering space for educators and families who are involved in equity and educational justice work with their communities. There are three more sessions in this fall series to convene and strategize together - click here to register and find out more.

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IntegrateNYC's D15 Middle School Group

Lena Dalke enters her third year as a coach for Integrate NYC's D15 Middle School group - providing space for students in District 15 middle schools to come together to build relationships, discuss issues relating to segregation and equity and take action for real integration. Our next gathering for middle school students in District 15 is on Dec 9th - click here to register.

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New York Appleseed is a part of a nonprofit network of 16 public interest centers in the United States and Mexico with a network office in Washington. Appleseed centers are dedicated to building a society in which opportunities are genuine, access to justice is universal and equal, and government advances the public interest. Click on the links below to explore the Appleseed network:

Alabama Appleseed

Chicago Appleseed

DC Appleseed

Georgia Appleseed

Hawai'i Appleseed

Kansas Appleseed

Louisiana Appleseed

Massachusetts Appleseed

Appleseed México

Missouri Appleseed

Nebraska Appleseed

New Jersey Appleseed

New Mexico Appleseed

South Carolina Appleseed

Texas Appleseed

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