URBAN AGENDA: New York’s Segregated School System is an Embarrassment

David R. Jones, Esq., President and CEO of the Community Service Society of New York | 4/4/2019, midnight
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This would quadruple the numbers of black and Latino students, while barely changing proficiency on standardized state exams (which, unlike SHSAT, everyone takes and are actually connected to what you are supposed to learn in middle school).

But while the mayor proposed a good plan, we have not seen him take the political action necessary to get it passed in Albany. Now that the Speaker has called for an end to the single-test policy, perhaps the mayor and more of our elected leaders will summon the political courage to seek real change on an issue that requires action, not symbolism.

The only way we are going to change admission results at SHS is by eliminating the single test criterion. Period. For years, the single test has been pitting public school parents against each other while giving an unfair advantage to students and families with resources to pour thousands of dollars and hours into test preparation.

Those who say more test prep is the solution to the abysmal representation of black and Latino students in these schools are ignoring data and research that show it is not having an impact. And here’s a statistic for all those politicians who defend the single-test policy out of fear of alienating the Asian community. Seventy percent of Asian students who apply to the SHS do not get in via the single-test. In other words, there are many subgroups and nationalities within that larger SHS applicant pool that end up on the outside looking in due to the single test policy.

We now have two of the most important elected officials in our city openly acknowledging that it’s time to eliminate the SHSAT. And in another important editorial, the New York Times called on the Mayor to de-designate the five newest specialized high schools that are not named in state law, and to apply his percentage plan to their admissions immediately. I could not agree more. The momentum for change is building, and we aren’t backing down.

David R. Jones, Esq., is President and CEO of the Community Service Society of New York (CSS), the leading voice on behalf of low-income New Yorkers for more than 170 years. The views expressed in this column are solely those of the writer. The Urban Agenda is available on CSS’s website: www.cssny.org.