Three local school boards representing thousands of city families have come out swinging against Mayor de Blasio’s plan to desegregate top public high schools — and activists say more protest is coming.
In an op-ed published on the education blog Chalkbeat on June 2, de Blasio called for the end of the Specialized High School Aptitude Test that’s used for admissions to eight elite city schools including Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Technical High School and Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan.
Instead, the mayor vowed to replace the test with other admissions factors in a bid to increase the diversity of the schools, which enroll thousands of Asian and white students but very few black and Hispanic kids.
De Blasio’s program would consider students’ previous academic performance in school and would also set aside seats for the top 7% of students at all city middle schools.
But the plan has been met with opposition from elements of the city’s Asian community and the schools’ powerful alumni groups, as well as a number of local politicians including Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
And now, three of the city’s Community Education Councils — which act in an advisory role on school issues — have published resolutions calling for de Blasio to rethink his ideas on how to desegregate the top schools.
The first local school board to come out against the plan represents District 20 in Brooklyn, which covers areas of Sunset Park and Bay Ridge.
“[R]eplacing the current standardized objective admissions criteria for the Specialized High Schools with subjective criteria may lead to the deterioration of the quality of the student body,” states the resolution passed by the Council on June 7.
Instead, the resolution says that city schools should offer free, high-quality preparation courses to help students prepare for the test.
The Community Education Council of District 24, which represents Queens neighborhoods including Corona, Glendale and Ridgewood, voted to approve a similar resolution opposing the plan on June 19.
And on Friday, the local school board for Community Education Council of District 26, representing northeast Queens neighborhoods including Bayside and Fresh Meadows, published its own resolution against the plan.
District 24 Community Education Council member Phil Wong said that more local school boards would be issuing other resolutions.
“The mayor wants to replace a merit-based system with a quota,” said Wong. “We’re mobilizing parents in other districts to pass similar resolutions, so stay tuned.”
Despite the opposition to the desegregation plan, de Blasio spokeswoman Jaclyn Rothenberg said the city is sticking to it.
“Our best high schools do not represent the diversity that’s best about our city,” Rothenberg said. “That’s a problem the mayor is tackling head-on. No single, arbitrary test should dictate a student’s future. Our plan will open the doors of opportunity and make the system more fair for everyone.”
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