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Queens Chronicle

Drop the anti-SHSAT crusade

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Posted: Thursday, October 18, 2018 10:30 am

There they go again, Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, determined to ruin quality in the name of equality.

The target, of course, is one of their broken-record favorites, the so-called Elite Eight high schools whose admissions are based solely upon applicants’ scores on one exam: the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test. This time it was Carranza’s turn to lament the exam’s alleged lack of fairness. He recently said the city on its own could “probably” change the enrollment criteria for five of the eight schools.

The problem, a real one that needs to be better addressed, is that black and Latino students don’t do nearly as well on the exam as white and Asian-American kids. So the number of black and Latino teens who make it into the schools is abysmal, while the number of whites isn’t far from their share of the population and the number of Asians is far higher than theirs. It was the same problem 47 years ago, when the test was enshrined in state law, except then it was Jewish kids who were overrepresented. Efforts to diversify the schools by reducing entry standards are what prompted the bipartisan law cementing the test as the means of admission in the first place.

Back then there were only three specialized schools. Five more were established more recently. The law on the SHSAT says it applies to the original three “and such similar further special high schools which may be established.” De Blasio and Carranza should drop any idea they have of trying to make an end run around the law and instead redouble their efforts to improve elementary and intermediate schools in minority communities and better prepare all students for the exam. That’s only fair.

Welcome to the discussion.