Tell the NYC DOE to end discriminatory admissions screening!

Tell the NYC DOE to end discriminatory admissions screening!

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We are calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chancellor Richard Carranza, and the NYC DOE to eliminate all exclusionary public school admissions "screens" in recognition of the inequities exposed by COVID-19. Now, more than ever, we must strive to give every public school student an integrated, equitable education.

New York City is one of the nation’s most segregated public school systems, partially because it has the largest degree of competitive admissions screening anywhere in the country. The high school admissions process is called “open choice,” meaning any student is able to go to any school, regardless of where they live. But it’s a lie. Available choices are dictated by everything from your zip code to your grades to whether you are able to make it to an in-person interview.

Going into next year’s high school admissions cycle, we cannot carry on with “business as usual.” We have long known that grades, attendance, and test scores are inadequate measures of a student’s potential—rather, they are more reliable measures of a student’s access to resources and level of income. 

Now, in the era of Coronavirus, the use of admissions screens is unconscionable. The reasons why are clear:

  • The pandemic has hit low-income New Yorkers significantly harder than higher-income New Yorkers. Any substitute screening mechanisms (including standardized tests) will invariably reflect a student’s access to resources, not their abilities.
  • 16% of NYC public school students are unable to engage in remote learning. Any admissions requirements imposed during this time will be barriers to vulnerable students, including students of color, immigrant students, those from low-income households, ELL and multilingual learners, and students with disabilities.
  • Traditional screening metrics, including grades, attendance, and 7th-grade state test scores, are unable to be used (and shouldn't have been used in the first place).
  • The complex screening system already makes the process of applying to high school a huge burden for families of all backgrounds. Recovering from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, families — particularly vulnerable families hit hard by the pandemic — will be particularly ill-equipped for this process. Ending screens will save them money and time.
  • The gaps in our education system have been made clearer than ever. Now is the time to integrate our schools, not further segregate them.

By removing discriminatory admissions screens, we can make sure the class entering high school in 2021 will be the most integrated class of students this city has ever seen.

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