De Blasio’s Elite School Plan Doesn’t Pass the Test

Mayor Bill de Blasio probably thought he’d make himself a hero to people of color with his plan to diversify NYC’s elite schools by eliminating the admissions test.


“I’m not sure if the mayor is racist, but this policy is certainly discriminatory,” Kenneth Chiu, chairman of the NYC Asian-American Democratic Club, said last week. “Our mayor is pitting minority against minority, which is really, really messed up.”

New Yorkers of Asian descent make up the majority of students at NYC’s eight specialized high schools, according to city data. The mayor’s plan, which includes a new way to admit students based on middle school grades and scores on standardized tests, is intended to include more economically disadvantaged students in the elite schools, many of whom are black and Latino — an admirable goal. The problem is de Blasio’s plan would reduce the number of qualified Asian students in these elite schools, a number of whom are living in poverty themselves.

“We are absolutely on the side of equity,” said Soo Kim of the Stuyvesant Association, “but we don’t believe that the solution is taking from one needy community and giving to another needy community.”

De Blasio’s heart might be in the right place, but what he seems to be saying to minority students is “OK, we’ve given you a lousy education since first grade, but now we’re going to make it up to you.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

There are some terrific public schools and charter schools in the city. But taking the top students from every middle school, even those with lousy track records, and placing them in elite schools, serves no one’s interest. Those admitted to a specialized school who have received an inferior education are not only more likely to do poorly in their new highly competitive schools, but to feel poorly about themselves as well.

The solution? Improve resources offered in low-income neighborhoods from kindergarten on up. Create more specialized high schools to meet demand. And eliminate the advantage that pricey test preparation provides by allocating funds so that disadvantaged kids receive the same test-prep opportunities as more affluent ones.

De Blasio’s plan won’t be passed into law before the June 20 end of the session in Albany. “We want to come up with something that’s good for all students,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx).

There’s a novel idea.

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2 Responses to De Blasio’s Elite School Plan Doesn’t Pass the Test

  1. albert garfinkle says:

    I read you in am new york and like what you say. You make more sense in a few words then all the BS politicos say in 3000 word essay. Keep writing i’ll keep reading. All the best AG
    ps Please let me know where your plays are running. e mail

  2. David French says:

    Your solutions, including the following, are right on the ball!
    “Improve resources offered in low-income neighborhoods from kindergarten on up.”

    I have a further idea. How about taking the top 7% of high schoolers (the way deBlasio suggests) and offering them spots in a new Specialized High School in September, run exactly the way existing SH Schools run with equally qualified teachers? Or maybe run such a school during the summer? Are these 7% up for this?

    This experiment will likely show that few of these students will dare to take up the offer, and even fewer will be able to keep up with the rigor of the classes. In fact, there will be so few left after one semester, you’ll be able to fit the survivors into the existing schedules in the Specialized High Schools!

    It would be better to do a harmless demonstration like this, than to disrupt the very talented and determined (and hard working) students who would be the 2019 recruits.

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