Mayor Bill de Blasio's ill advised proposal on how to achieve some semblance of diversify has stirred up a backlash, mainly by East Asian parents and their political allies. In addition, the Republican controlled State Senate has splashed cold water on the Mayor's plan to diversify the three Specialized High Schools which are Brooklyn Tech, Bronx High School of Science, and Stuyvesant.
The Mayor's plan would set aside 20% for low income students and he would scrap the Specialized school test altogether and allow the top academic students of every middle school in the City to be given a seat, based on their school grades and the State test scores. There are major problems with the Mayor's approach.
First and foremost, .the Mayor's plan will allow for every student accepted by the school, another, more deserving student will be rejected. His "robbing Peter to pay Paul" is not only discriminating against higher academic students but ignores the mission of the specialized schools, to nurture the top students in the City and provide a college like curriculum and atmosphere.
Second, if the Mayor's proposal is implemented, that would set aside seats in the specialized high schools based on middle school grades, which is subjective and subject to grade inflation. Then what happens when those students who were accepted but cannot handle the tough academic environment of the specialized schools? Will the Mayor allow them to transfer out or pressure the specialized schools to dumb down the curriculum? My guess is the later.
Third, the Mayor's plan to use the State competency test is a poor replacement for the significantly harder specialized school test which is based upon selecting the top academic talent in the City.
Finally, the Mayor's plan discriminates against the high achieving Asian community and to a lesser degree, the White neighborhoods. Moreover, it also discriminates against the middle class community's middle schools, which have more high academic achieving students than the City as a whole. Finally, under the Mayor's plan the specialized schools will no longer be elite.
My plan would be to provide free or low cost test prep for all middle school students who have ambitions to be accepted to the specialized high schools and pay for it by one or more of the following.
- Take it from the City's budget surplus.
- Eliminate the ATR pool and the $136 million it costs by placing ATRs into vacancies before schools can hire new teachers.
- Reduce the administrative bloat at the DOE