On Nov. 4, a working group appointed by the city Department of Education released its recommendations for revising the formula for funding NYC’s public schools. This funding formula known as “Fair Student Funding” accounts for about 65 percent of what school principals receive to cover teacher salaries and other expenses. The formula is designed so that a high-needs student (e.g., low state test score, English language learner or student with disability, etc.) would bring more funding to a school as he or she typically requires more resources for support.

Education “equity” advocates made the case to Chancellor David Banks that this funding formula needed to be adjusted to reflect contemporary priorities and refused to pass the DOE budget until assurances were made by Banks that it would be reformed. In good faith, Banks had the DOE assemble a working group to hear out their concerns. Sounds reasonable, right?

The current formula allocates more than half of NYC’s 700 high school programs additional funding under the “Portfolio School” designation. This designation includes 300 CTE (Career Technical Education) programs, 25 Specialized Audition programs and only 13 Specialized Academic programs.

When the working group made recommendations in its final report for updating the funding formula, four were to increase funding, and the sole cut was to defund the 13 Specialized Academic programs. Those include the eight specialized high schools and in-demand schools in Queens — Townsend Harris High School, which ranks No. 1 in New York State and No. 19 in the country, and Bard High School Early College. In other words, they want to defund advanced academics.

The DOE-appointed working group consists of members selected in an opaque process. Almost all are activists who have been very vocal and aggressive in their attempts to eliminate the Specialized High School Admissions Test, remove screened admissions to middle and high schools, and eliminate the Gifted and Talented programs with the premise that these programs are not “equitable.” While this may be a worthwhile consideration, this argument falls flat when you realize that low-income Asian students are the most impacted demographic and make up 61 percent of the SHSAT schools. With unsuccessful attempts to repeal the SHSAT, and reinstatement of merit-based admissions, this latest tactic to defund advanced academic programs is a cynical way to instigate a death spiral by strangling funding and forcing cuts for teachers.

Out of the 1,800 public schools in NYC, these 13 schools were already receiving the lowest funding levels yet they are the only schools explicitly targeted for defunding by the working group. Brooklyn Tech stands to lose $6.2 million and Townsend Harris would lose $1.5 million, 15 percent and 11 percent, respectively, of their entire FSF budget.

So is it a coincidence that the majority of the students attending these schools are Asian and low-income? It doesn’t seem so, not even on the face of it — of the 20,000 students who attend these 13 schools, 11,100 are Asian; that’s 56 percent compared to the 17 percent citywide average.

It is also worth noting that the 25 audition specialized high schools receive 40 percent more funding per student ($1,430 vs. $1,021) than the 13 academic specialized schools with this designation. So if the goal is to cut funding for the highest-funded portfolio schools, it is peculiar that there were no recommended cuts for the 25 audition schools. However, if the goal is to take public resources from academically high-achieving low-income Asian students, then the working group could do no better than to target these 13 specialized academic schools.

One reply to a tweet about these targeted cuts was “not everything is anti-Asian.” Yes, we know. But when the working group’s only recommendation for cuts is to defund majority-Asian schools, then we need to call this out for what it is, anti-advanced academic, anti-Asian discrimination.

Yiatin Chu and Jean Hahn are public school parents and co-founders of the Asian Wave Alliance, who reside in Whitestone and Forest Hills, respectively.