Fix the pipeline for specialized high schools

JONATHAN ADEWUMI | 6/7/2018, 12:40 p.m.
The issue of what to do with NYC’s prestigious specialized high schools and their lack of diversity recently led to ...
Classroom/education Tamarcus Brown on Unsplash

Where should we go from here? Let’s fix the pipeline. Let’s make a concerted effort to increase the number of level 4s in all of NYC. That helps everybody, that helps diversity, that helps those other high schools that are filled with level 1 and 2s because a few schools took all of the few students that were academically proficient or above. How do we do this? We get to work!

There was a state senate bill introduced this year for a Pre-SHSAT to be given in the sixth grade. Let’s pass that bill so we can identify top talent in every school. Or we could just take the top 25 to 30 performing sixth and seventh grade student in under-represented middle schools in the city (based on yes, the state tests) and accelerate them. Create summer academies for them where they learn the material for the next school year. Give them time to absorb challenging math topics such as algebra and geometry. Teach them reading comprehension strategies that they use at the top high schools and colleges. Support them emotionally and culturally through exposure to the arts and STEM. Once they have mastered the state requirements, prep them for the SHSAT. They will jump that hurdle with ease, the same way I jumped that hurdle with ease because a system believed I could do it and provided the means for me to do it. It didn’t require a change in the law back then. It doesn’t require a change in the law now. It requires those in City Hall and in the DOE to commit to funding and establishing these programs, so we can take our children to the next level academically. There are programs in the community doing this work now. It can be done! No one should be happy with 2.1 percent above proficiency. If we fix that issue, we fix the issue of the lack of diversity in the specialized high schools and we revitalize what education in NYC means once again.

Jonathan Adewumi ( is a 1980 Brooklyn Tech graduate.