New York High School Checkout — The Great District Divide — The 74 | Tech US News


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After two years in which all high schools in New York admitted students strictly by lottery, Chancellor David Banks allowed individual districts to decide which schools would reintroduce screening and which would maintain the status quo.

The results turned out to be quite surprising. Taking grades and test scores out of the admissions equation is supposed to give low-income and minority students a leg up and make it easier for them to secure a spot at a “top-performing” high school. (This assumes, of course, that it is impossible for poor and minority students to get high grades and test scores.)

But last month, when each of the city’s 32 school districts released their 2023 admissions rubrics, wealthier districts, particularly in Manhattan and brownstone Brooklyn, opted not to review their schools. Lower-income areas, including parts of Harlem, Washington Heights and southern Brooklyn, have reintroduced entrance exams at a handful of their schools.

Why did this happen?

The decision was not unanimous in any district. All of the supervisors vowed to work with their communities before issuing the ruling, although some members of those communities begged to differ.

In the 3rd Ward on Manhattan’s affluent Upper West Side, Supervisor Kamar Samuels wrote: I recommend that all District 3 high schools … implement a high school admissions lottery for the 2023 admissions cycle. But angry families pointed to his district’s official poll, which found 205 votes “Yes, schools should be inspected,” 113 votes “No, schools should not be inspected” and 32 votes “maybe.”

In Manhattan’s 2nd Ward, which encompasses wealthy enclaves on the Upper East Side and downtown, Supervisor Kelly McGuire wrote: We listened to families and gathered feedback in written surveys in different languages. … My proposal for Fall 2023 admissions aligns with community feedback.

District 2’s plan — despite the objections of some families — is to continue accepting students through a lottery like District 3. One member of the District 2 Community Education Board accused the superintendent of abandoning the district’s advanced students.

At the same time, Superintendent Sean Davenport of Manhattan’s 5th District, located in Harlem, told families that: After careful consideration and community engagement, I am pleased to share the results of our processes. Community School District 5 will … restore existing screens for Columbia Secondary School, Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change and Frederick Douglass Academy.

Because Columbia High School gives enrollment priority to all families who live above 96th Street, students from East Harlem in Ward 4 will also benefit. As a non-zoning school, Thurgood Marshall is open to children throughout the city.

In addition, Mott Hall, a school that is also physically located in District 5 but prioritizes students even higher than the city, in District 6, received its own permission to continue inspections.

Nearly three-quarters of Mott Hall’s students are Hispanic and eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch, reflecting the demographics of their larger community—and 72% are achieving at grade level, compared to the city’s overall success rate of 40%. Columbia High School, which has students in grades 6-12, is 36% Latino, 29% white, 19% black, 8% Asian, and 8% other, with 45% eligible for free or reduced lunch and 91 % of the university. readiness level. 6-12 Thurgood Marshall Academy is 64% black and 81% of children are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Eighty-eight percent of its students complete a college course or earn a professional certificate before graduating. Frederick Douglass Academy, also a 6-12 school, posts very similar demographics and has an 84 percent graduation rate.

All have managed to become some of the most diverse and successful high schools in the city without eliminating academic testing. So why do schools that are predominantly white and affluent believe that using grades to admit students is racist, while those that are predominantly black/Hispanic and have large numbers of low-income students do not?

Is it possible that most non-white schools with high-achieving children know that their students can earn exemplary grades without having to lower standards – or eliminate them altogether?

Could it be that these schools see the benefit of academically ranking students, which was once the ticket to admit large numbers of minority students to New York’s top high schools? Could it be that they have read research showing that wealthy “high-performing” schools often fail to educate their low-income and minority students? Could it be that they also read the research showing that low-income and minority students benefit the most from self-sustaining accelerated classrooms? Is it possible that they simply believe in their students in a way that Districts 2 and 3 do not?

Districts 2, 3, and Brooklyn’s District 15, among others, seem convinced that the only way for non-white and low-income students to do well is to be surrounded by white and wealthy peers. No one has said exactly what it means to integrate low-achieving students into high-achieving schools. Are you supposed to be inspired? Enlightened? Education by osmosis? And certainly no one has talked about what support will be available for pupils who come to sixth form unprepared for the rigorous academics of a once-inspected school.

Every change in admissions that NYC has implemented over the past decade has been justified as being in the best interests of minority and low-income students. Yet the changes were mostly made in counties where they are not the primary demographic. This seems to embody a rather patronizing vision of these students that does not match that of districts where low-income and minority children are the majority.

Maybe those in charge of making decisions should listen to the input of the schools that have actually served them successfully far longer than the last two mayoral administrations combined before anyone speaks on their behalf.

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