Council Member Chin Asks Mayor For Meeting on Specialized High School Plan

Photo via @KeepSHSAT Twitter.

A large protest was held at City Hall on Sunday. Photo via @KeepSHSAT Twitter.

The other day, we posted statements from local elected officials regarding Mayor de Blasio’s proposed changes in the admissions procedure for the city’s specialized high schools.

The mayor wants to scrap the Specialized High School Admissions Test, as a way of increasing enrollment in the elite high schools by black and Latino students. Asian groups have expressed outrage, saying the plan is unjust (more than 60% of the students in New York’s specialized schools are of Asian descent). In our original story, City Council member Margaret Chin criticized the city administration for failing to consult with local communities before unveiling the proposal. She demanded a meeting with the mayor and stakeholders from across the city to begin creating, “a solution that works for all of our students.”

After the article was published, Chin’s office sent along a letter the Council member has sent to the mayor. Chin noted that she’s a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, one of the specialized public institutions. She praised the mayor’s efforts to make the schools more diverse, but then expressed serious concerns about the plan:

Unfortunately, we do not have sufficient assurances that this proposal will increase diversity. Specifically, this plan does not address the fact that far too many students are at a disadvantage on the day of the SHSAT. As a city, we need to identify immediate ways to make the existing process fairer, such as making sure that every student knows about the test when they enter Middle School and expand the DREAM-Specialized High School Institute (DREAM-SHSI), or similar programs, to ensure low-income communities of color are prepared for the SHSAT. In the long-term, we must strive to make sure that our Middle Schools are preparing every student, regardless of race and socioeconomic status, for the rigors of the SHSAT, as well as the schools that use the exam as an admission criterion.

You can read the full letter below. While the assembly’s education committee signed off on the proposal, it’s expected to face many hurdles in Albany (both the governor and assembly speaker have signaled reluctance to take up the issue immediately).

Chin Letter Re: Specialized High Schools by The Lo-Down on Scribd