[Urgent] Specialized High Schools Alumni Groups Announcement
Jun 4, 2018 — Dear Alumni:
Please act today! It’s IMPORTANT! On Sunday, Mayor de Blasio and the NYC Schools Chancellor unveiled a new bill in the NYS Assembly to phase out and completely eliminate the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) in favor of a complicated, unworkable new admissions formula that injects subjectivity into the admissions process. This bill not only fails to address the longer term educational challenges facing too many underrepresented communities, but it disturbingly eliminates equal access to the specialized high schools for youngsters from Catholic, Jewish and Muslim middle schools as well as private secular schools, as its primary admissions system is limited to only students attending public schools.
This bill was introduced two hours before midnight this past Friday and is scheduled to be voted out of the Education Committee this Wednesday morning with no public hearing, stakeholder input or analysis. We need your help now!
Please immediately email your Assembly member by going to the Voter Voice website (https://www.votervoice.net/CNYCSHSAA/campaigns/40755/respond)and let them know that while we recognize the importance of increasing diversity in the specialized high schools – and believe there is much that can, and must, be done – bill number A10427A is absolutely the wrong approach. Even if you are out of state, your opposition will be forwarded to key elected officials. Again, the bill is scheduled for a vote in the Assembly Education Committee on Wednesday, June 6th and so your immediate action is essential.
President, Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation
BROOKLYN TECH ALUMNI FOUNDATION
STUYVESANT HIGH SCHOOL ALUMNI ASSOCIATION
MEMORANDUM OF OPPOSITION
Alumni oppose revised admissions bill - A10427A
On NYS Assembly Education Committee Agenda 6/6/2018
June 3, 2018
The Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation and the Stuyvesant High School Alumni Association believe in the importance of a specialized high school education and want to ensure that it is preserved for future generations. We also value diversity and strongly believe that much can – and must – be done to increase diversity in these schools. However, we also believe that the new approach contained in the amended version of A10427A is hugely problematic and not the answer to this very complicated issue. So while this interest in increasing diversity is obviously well-intended, both the new bill content and the process by which it was introduced are seriously flawed and so we remain strongly opposed to the amended bill for the following reasons:
1. The “A print” of A10427 was introduced with no consultation with key stakeholders related to the specialized high schools and has now been put on an Education Committee agenda for 6/6 with no public input, no public hearings and, frankly, no time to adequately analyze the very serious long term impacts of the bill. It is disappointing that such an incredibly complicated legislative proposal impacting the future of so many children and families is being considered without any public dialogue whatsoever in the waning hours of the legislative session.
2. While the exceedingly complicated admissions formula contained in A10427A talks about criteria such as state test scores and grade point averages, it specifically references “multiple measures” of achievement – as determined by the Chancellor – which are unclear and undefined. This introduces subjectivity into the admissions process – as compared to the current, completely objective process – which opens up the possibility of outside influence in admissions.
3. 10427A suggests basing admission on criteria and/or scores compared across every New York City middle school, which does not account for varying levels of achievement or preparedness at these schools. The alumni associations have long suggested that the most thoughtful, long term approach is to improve the level of elementary and secondary education for ALL students, to ensure that each and every NYC child at least has the opportunity to compete for admissions to these schools and then achieve at the schools if admitted. It would be extremely unfortunate and unfair to any child if she/he were admitted under this proposed new formula without the tools to succeed. We need to give all of our kids the tools to succeed at a very high level specialized high school if she/he so chooses.
4. The bill’s suggestion that a certain percentage of specialized high school seats be filled first by students only from New York City public schools removes equal access for numerous New York City youngsters who currently come to these high schools from Catholic schools, yeshivas, Muslim schools or other private schools. This sends a terrible message to parents and students at these schools who seek to return to the NYC public school system at the specialized high schools and simply want the opportunity to objectively compete for a seat.
5. Finally, A10427A phases out the Discovery Program (with the phase out of the SHSAT entrance exam), which is a short sighted decision – especially in light of the potential for the Discovery Program to actually “move the needle” on specialized high school diversity. As the alumni associations have proposed, the City could – with no state legislative change required – simply change the definition of “disadvantaged” in the Discovery Program criteria and revise the program to focus on underrepresented middle schools and communities. This, combined with expanded outreach programs, expansion of the Dream Program for free test prep and other proactive measures, could make a difference without changing state law.
Once again, a long-term, multi-faceted approach is needed on this critical issue, not a complicated, unworkable approach introduced in the dead of night and which potentially does not put young people in a position to succeed. The goal must be to address the systematic, long-term educational challenges facing far too many young people in underrepresented communities and help to ensure that all New York City school children have access to the high-quality educational opportunities they deserve.
For more information, please contact Yoswein New York Inc at 212-233-5700.
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