Home > Uncategorized > An Obvious Solution to the Elite NYC High School Dilemma: Add More of Them! The Impediment? $$$$

An Obvious Solution to the Elite NYC High School Dilemma: Add More of Them! The Impediment? $$$$

June 11, 2018

A recent City and State article by Tom Allon and Rafeal Espinal offers an obvious solution to the problem posed by having 30,000 applicants seeking placement in NYC’s so called “elite high schools”: Open more of them! Mr. Allon and Mr. Espinal open their article describing the problem:

Every year around 30,000 8th graders take the SHSAT, the high-stakes entrance exam for New York City’s eight coveted specialized high schools.

In March, 25,000 ambitious teenagers get the disappointing news that they will not be offered admission to any of those schools.

Recently, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s controversial plan to increase the paltry number of African-American and Latino students in the specialized schools has been met with much criticism, particularly from the city’s growing Asian-American community. Currently, the majority of students at Stuyvesant, Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech are of Asian descent. At Stuyvesant 73 percent of the student body is Asian-American, compared to 1 percent African-American and 3 percent Latino. The citywide public school mix is much different: 26 percent African-American, 40 percent Latino and only 16 percent Asian-American.

In the zero-sum game of balancing the racial demographics at these schools, a win for one group results in a loss for another.

There solution is an obvious one. Add “…more educational jewels to the crown in the public high school system” by expanding the number of seats available! This solution would have the effect of increasing the buyer of opportunities for bright and motivated students to enroll in academically challenging programs without watering down the content and without compromising the application process.

If every child who took the test and completed the application process was assured admission to a rigorous program who would lose? The obvious answer is those who pay taxes for schools and those who believe that “choice” and “competition” are a pre-requisite for quality. Clearly the cost/pupil would increase for the 25,000 students now left out in the cold, but if the marginal cost/pupil was $1,000 the $25,000,000 increase would be pocket change for a district with a budget of $24,000,000,000 and when that cost is spread over the tax base it would be relatively inconsequential. The benefits, on the other hand, would be huge.

And Mr. Allon and Mr. Espinal offer the experience of the expansion of Bard’s High School Early College program as evidence that such an expansion would not water down the academics if more students were admitted. There are clearly more than 5,000 students who would benefit from an “elite” education…. and it’s clearly time to move forward with an expansion plan instead of perpetuating the zero-sum mentality that adds needless stress to the lives of thousands of NYC households.


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