Assemblyman William Colton (D–Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Dyker Heights) and Democratic District Leaders Charles Ragusa and Nancy Tong, together with community leaders Nino Magali and Dr. Tim Law, last week, hosted a very important meeting to protect the city’s specialized high schools and to support keeping the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT).
A large number of parents and students had put their important plans aside and came out in support of the SHSAT. The meeting came as Albany debates a measure, with the support of the de Blasio Administration, to replace the entrance exam with other criteria to ensure more diversity in the specialized high schools.
“Various speakers at the meeting spoke why and how this program is so important to our kids. They had sent a loud and clear message to Mayor De Blasio and NYC DOE Chancellor Carranza, that they must stop making decisions for the students and deprive them of fair education,” said Colton.
“The diversified community at the meeting showed that the fight is not over, we are united and will not let any bureaucratic agency to dictate our children’s future, because our children are our future,” Colton added.
Colton maintains the SHSAT is not the problem.
“The DOE’s own study found the SHSAT accurately did what it was supposed to do in predicting the success rate in specialized schools. The real problem with achieving diversity is the failure of the DOE to offer Gifted and Talented programs to the gifted Black and Hispanic children who attend school in early and middle school grades in under-performing districts,” said Colton.
“There is a direct proven correlation in the number of children being admitted in those districts where gifted programs are offered and in those districts where such gifted programs are not provided. This failure by the DOE to provide for the education of bright children in those districts is the cause of children in these under-performing districts not attending the specialized high schools. Many of their parents feel the DOE has abandoned the education of these bright children and choose instead to enroll their children in private, parochial and charter schools,” the lawmaker said.
Tong related her long history of speaking up on this issue from her testimony before the City Council back in 2013 through today. “Admission to the specialized high schools has been a vehicle to entry into the American Dream for many families. Admission must be by objective educational standards, not by subjective criteria aimed at achieving a social policy,” said Tong.
Magali, president of the United Progressive Democratic Club, said in the last few weeks, the club has been able to mobilize and unite the community for the sake of the children.
“As a mother of a three-year-old, I am horrified as to what has become of our education system. It comes down to politics over quality! Every child is entitled to a quality education starting from pre-K and following through the middle grades. Admission to the specialized high schools should be by merit, not by race- I do not care what ethnicity, race or religion you belong to, education is education. We are here to unite all the communities not divide them,” said Magali.