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Testing is not the problem in admissions to Specialized High Schools in NYC

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

It is getting very tiring being one of the few voices out in the wilderness defending the use of standardized testing. However, when the time comes and everyone who is fighting against the testing of all sorts realizes the colossal mistake they are making, I will be here to help you out of this disaster. The latest is by the less than esteemed Mayor of NYC, the honorable Bill DeBlasio. Many of his policies have worked in favor of minority communities so, it is no wonder that many will believe that he is acting in their best interest to do away with testing as the sole criteria for entry into the specialized high schools in NYC. Now, before everyone gets up in arms that I am some sort of racist, I am not arguing for the status quo. I am well versed on the fact that there have been between 8 and 10 Black students admitted into Stuyvesant (each year) for the past three years. That does not make the testing that created this system racist. It makes the people who created this system so. Testing is not racist. Period. The problem here is that this test has an important message to people of color, especially Black citizens of New York: The educational system in this city has failed you, and the thing that needs to be fixed is the educational system, not the test!

People from different parts of New York City are not at all or are under-represented in these elite schools. Why? Could it be that the reason for these oversights is that fewer than 30% of middle school students read at grade level in many low-income neighborhoods? Could it be those low-income areas of the city have fewer support systems and more economic challenges to meet than their richer neighbors? Could it be that NYC is not doing the job in educating middle school students?

The answer to this dilemma has been out there for quite a long period of time but, is resisted by the educational elite. The public school system has done a horrible job educating middle school students in NYC. To solve this problem, the answer is charter schools or selective-oriented schools that have criteria that are more equitable. The answer is not to destroy the system and bring everyone down to a mediocre level. It is to build everyone up. However, the educational elite complains about charter schools for people of color or anything that favors disadvantaged youth, as a way of destroying the public-school systems in our country. Why, may I ask, is it ok to have elite schools that skim off the best and brightest White and Asian American children but not African American and Hispanic children? Why would doing the latter destroy public education and the former be the way to ensure excellence?

Both sides have a stake in the status quo and the kids are the people who suffer. Schools like Success Academy, which has done nothing but succeed, are called out for hurting the public school system but Stuyvesant is praised for its excellence. Please. Let’s start dealing with the reality of what we need to fix. Too many students have not received the education they need and deserve. There are ways to fix it. The answer is not blaming a test and creating mediocre schools. It is giving innovation and opportunity to people of all denominations to flourish and succeed. This is our chance to really change education for the better. Vote today for a candidate who will change the system to make all NYC kids flourish and not the staid policies of the past.

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