Time for a real discussion on specialized high schools
Jun 13, 2018 | 3122 views | 0 0 comments | 257 257 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza were wrong to try to shove legislation changing the admissions process to the city’s elite high schools down the State Legislature’s throat.

But now that Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has blocked the bill until the next legislative session, it’s time to have a frank discussion on the state of the specialized high schools.

Let’s be honest. The current admissions system is not working for the majority of New York City’s public school students. Black and Latino students make up 70 percent of the city’s student population, but a mere fraction of the student body at the top high schools.

When Stuyvesant High School only admits ten African-American students in an incoming class of 900, there is clearly a problem.

The Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) does not measure aptitude or intelligence. It cannot pick out the best or brightest students, only the students who are the most prepared for the test.

Allowing one high-stakes test, which can and has been gamed, to determine the future of so many is unfair to both students and families.

Critics of the plan say the mayor should focus his efforts on desegregating K-to-8 public schools. We agree. But that shouldn’t mean he should turn a blind eye to the egregious results of a so-called “meritocratic” system that has systematically left out black and Latino students.

Asian-Americans are understandably upset by the proposed changed. Given their high enrollment at prestigious schools like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science, they may have the most to lose.

They should absolutely be part of the conversation for any reforms moving forward. But they have to be open to having a real discussion, with the possibility of changing the admissions process to make these schools reflective of the wealth of talent across all races and ethnicities.

More importantly, let’s include the voices and narratives of those who have been left out of the process entirely: black and Latino families. Let everyone have a seat at the table, and figure out an equitable solution together.
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