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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Equity and excellence

New York City’s elite high schools are filled with Asian-American students — many from low-income, immigrant families — who’ve aced the special admissions test. Mayor Bill de Blasio proposes admitting top students from each middle school to boost the very low number of blacks and Latinos, reports Chalkbeat.

Asian-American parents and community members rally to support the Specialized High School Admission Test outside New York’s City Hall. Photo: Monica Disare/Chalkbeat

Offering free test prep didn’t work, writes Laura Waters on NY School Talk. It came too late. The city needs to provide better K-8 schools.

“In the 1960’s Bronx Science was 85 percent Jewish, observes. “In the 1970’s Stuyvesant was disparagingly referred to as a ‘free prep school for Jews’.” Now, Asian-American students “comprise 62 percent of Bronx Science’s enrollment, 73 percent  of Stuy’s, and 60.5 percent of Brooklyn Tech’s,” while 16.1 percent of public school students are Asian.

Instead of fighting over who gets in to a handful of elite schools, why not create more high-quality high schools?

New York City has kept middle-class whites in public schools by creating more schools that screen students for academics than any other district, reports the New York Times.

New York City’s charter sector is providing excellence and equity — without admissions tests, writes Fordham’s Robert Pondiscio. “There is no bar to entry, no exam to study and sit for; admission is by lottery.” Most students come from low-income and working-class black and Latino families.

Uncommon Schools, which operates 23 charters in New York City, including three high schools in Brooklyn, will graduate about 240 students this year, all of whom have been accepted to four-year colleges, with 60% accepted at top-tier institutions including Brown, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, Colgate and Williams, among many others. Democracy Prep Public Schools, where I have taught, made news recently when three sisters, immigrants from Cameroon, completed an Ivy League hat trick, earning acceptances to Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth. The nearly 200 students graduating from the network’s three Bronx and Manhattan high schools this spring have all been accepted by colleges, including offers from all eight Ivies and such prominent historically black institutions as Spelman, Howard and Morehouse. Forty percent of Democracy Prep’s graduates are headed to schools in U.S. News’ Top 100. Nearly nine out 10 of Achievement First’s 158 graduating seniors have been accepted by colleges ranked “competitive” or higher according to Barron’s, including Stanford, Georgetown and Smith. Seventy percent of the 200-plus graduates of KIPP NYC College Prep High School are bound for competitive colleges.

Success Academy, which saw 16 students from its first class graduate this month, now has 46 schools with thousands of high-scoring black and Latino students on the college track, Pondiscio adds. “Moctar Fall’s journey took him from Senegal and through homeless shelters in the Bronx” to a high school diploma — and a full scholarship to MIT.

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