De Blasio ripped for plan to diversify elite NYC high schools

Wednesday, June 6, 2018
Michael F. Haverluck (

New York City skylineMore and more families are expressing outrage over New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to diversify the elite magnet schools throughout the nation’s most populous city.

“De Blasio announced a plan earlier this week to scrap admissions tests for the city’s elite magnet high schools in order to diversify their student bodies, and many New York City families are not happy,” TheBlaze reported. “In particular, a large number of New York City’s Asian population allege that they are being discriminated against, and that they are being punished for being historically overrepresented in these schools.”

When ethnicity trumps academic performance …

The controversial Democratic mayor is now demanding that eight elite high schools in the city tear up their current admissions tests in order to give minority students from various races a chance to be accepted.

“… De Blasio … sees ‘entrance’ exams to Bronx Science and seven other elite high schools as barriers to black and Hispanic students,” CBS Local New York (WLNY-TV) reported, noting that the mayor set up an event with towers of green and yellow balloons at the entrance of Bronx High School of Science in an effort to win the community over to his affirmative action plan.

His attempt to force diversity into the student body is essentially rewarding students for their ethnicity – rather than for their academic excellence.

“The status quo is broken – we have to make a major change,” de Blasio insisted, according to CBS Local. “We have to make sure that the very best high schools are open to every New Yorker – every kind of New Yorker. They need to look like New York City.”

He went as far as to call the elite schools’ current entrance exam unjust, insisting that it impedes student success.

“[The Specialized High School Admissions Test is] a roadblock to justice, progress and academic excellence," de Blasio asserted, according to ABC Local 7 New York

Instead of wanting the highest achievers at the Big Apple’s most prestigious schools, the mayor wants to reflect the demographics he sees on city streets.

“The mayor – who engineered something of a campaign-like rally with parents and politicians at a junior high school in East New York – said it was time to end having students take tests to get into the school because right now … just 10 percent of students at the elite high schools are Black and Hispanic, while 70 percent of students in city schools are Black and Hispanic,” CBS Local informed. “The mayor wants 45 percent of the 5,000 seats to go to black and Hispanic students.”

Two parts of de Blasio’s plan were unleashed to the NYC community.

“He wants 20 percent of the seats reserved for low-income students starting in September 2019,” the local New York station divulged. “He will then seek to have state legislation to eliminate the tests and replace them with admission criteria based on middle school class rank and state test scores.”

Discriminating to stop alleged discrimination?

But this poses a problem to another minority group, as WLNY-TV reported that Asians make up more than 70 percent of the student body at Stuyvesant High School. Under de Blasio’s plan, it was also noted that 7 percent of the seats at New York City’s elite high schools would be reserved for private school students who gain admittance based on a lottery system.

De Blasio says his diversity plan is slated for next year.

“Beginning in 2019, at least 20 percent of the seats at these schools will also be reserved for ‘low income’ households,” TheBlaze’s Leon Wolf informed.

Not so fast …

Despite de Blasio’s proposed action steps that he says he is ready to take, he must cut through a lot of red tape to implement his diversity plan.

“Even if he had the backing of the New York City Council, he couldn’t,” Wolf asserted. “The magnet schools housed in New York City operate on a state charter and their admission requirements – including the admission examination – are set by state law. In order to change the criteria, de Blasio will have to convince the New York Legislature to write his plan into law.”

Burgeoning backlash

De Blasio has received major backlash for trying to steamroll over the elite schools’ academic policies.

“[The mayor’s plan has met with an] avalanche of criticism from parents, students and alumni – not to mention talk of a potential lawsuit,” WLNY noted.

It is argued that with such a plan, politics will replace academics in the prestigious schools.

“Some alumni have predicted that the elimination of the admission exam will mean that the coveted seats at the city’s schools will soon go to politically connected families instead of families whose children deserve admission,” Wolf recounted.

Brooklyn Tech Alumni Association President Larry Cary contended that the new policy would open up a can of worms.

“There’s absolutely no doubt that once this door is open, who your father is is going to make a difference as to which school you get in to,” Cary pointed out, according to WLNY.

Stuyvesant Alumni Association President Soo Kim argues that de Blasio’s plan unjustly targets Asian families with low incomes.

“This solution is going to be born on the back of poor Asian families,” Kim stressed. “The Asian Exclusion Act of 2018 – it sounds sort of like that … people saying this school is too Asian.”

Regardless of ethnicity, a great deal of parents who send their children to these elite schools sacrifice a good portion of their incomes to help them meet the rigorous academic standards.

“Many middle-class parents spend hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars on tutors to prepare their children for the test,” ABC Local 7 reported.

A graduate from one of New York City’s elite high schools, David Lee, maintains that he will sue de Blasio if he pushes forward with his aggressive affirmative action plan.

“[I will sue the mayor] if we see the number of Asian students fall,” the Chinese-American activist assured, according to TheBlaze.

More problems

De Blasio was asked about the difficulty students who do not attend public school would face when it comes to admission to the elite schools under his plan.

“There are other students who go to private schools, Yeshivas, Catholic schools, Muslim schools … what accommodations will be made for them?” CBS posed to the mayor.

A direct and intelligible answer was not given.

“I don’t know the percentage of kids overall,” de Blasio answered. “Obviously, we want fairness for everyone.”

That was when Deputy School Chancellor Josh Wallack chimed in that 7 percent of the space in the eight elite schools will be designated for non-public school students who will go through the selection process ‘based on a lottery.’”

One alumni of Bronx Science, Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos, is dead-set against de Blasio’s proposed plan.

“The fact that fewer black and Hispanic kids [are] getting into these schools is not the failure of the schools,” Kallos argued. “It’s the failure of the public education system that has been failing them since day one.”

It is also contended that the mayor’s plan makes little sense and is confusing – at best.

“A statement from the Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation and the Stuyvesant High School Alumni Association pointed out that the mayor’s admissions formula is ‘exceedingly complicated,’” WLNY-TV noted. “It also says the plan does not address ‘educational disparities across New York City middle schools.’”





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