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“Challenging the status quo isn’t always easy, but when it comes to educational justice it’s always worth it. Our policies must reflect the principle that education is enhanced by classroom diversity, and that means knocking down barriers to entry with bold action. When Borough President Diaz and I convened a task force to study these barriers in our City’s gifted and talented education, we emerged with a clear sense of historical inequity and a concrete set of recommendations for lasting reform.
“A year after the release of our task force’s report, Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza have recognized the most fundamental of truths about our specialized high schools: We must replace the admissions model that has SHSAT scores as its sole admissions criterion. I will do whatever I can to support legislative efforts in Albany that implement a new, well-rounded system, inclusive of middle school class rank and state test scores as we had recommended. I also support the immediate expansion of the Discovery program to economically disadvantaged students who just missed the current SHSAT cutoff score, which is expected to nearly double the offers to Black and Latino students.
“Still, the City is far from doing all it can to expand diversity in gifted and talented education. As long as the SHSAT remains, there is just cause for funding free and/or low-cost test prep services for all those who are in financial need. The City can, and should, take immediate steps to expand specialized high school seats as well as change the enrollment process at the five existing specialized high schools not written into the 1971 Hecht-Calandra Act, a move many education advocates and legal experts have said can be done today. Finally, we cannot truly reverse inequity without starting at the beginning of the divide, which is why we must not only expand middle school gifted and talented offerings, but also institute opt-out gifted and talented program testing in pre-K.
“The doors to our specialized high schools — the exemplars of our city’s best in public education — must be wide open to every middle school student who showcases top-tier aptitude and academic achievement. These reforms have opened those doors a bit wider, and we must continue to push them further. Classroom diversity translates into scholars who are academically smart and emotionally intelligent, and it is the key ingredient to generating cutting-edge solutions to complex challenges in our global society.”
Brooklyn Borough Hall
209 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
p: (718) 802 3700 | f: (718) 802 3778