New York parents and students protest new high school admissions policies

Dozens of public school students and parents gathered outside the Department of Education headquarters on Friday to protest new secondary school admissions policies that are less reliant on academic records.

Organized by the local group Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum Education, the families demanded that the DOE restore rigorous admissions criteria to 160 high schools in the five boroughs.

More than 58,000 students have applied for at least one screening program for this fall, officials said.

“The lottery system set up for this year’s high school admissions sends a glaring message to students,” said Ting Yu, a parent of an eighth-grader.

“You are a faceless random number whose future is determined by a flawed algorithm. Your choice is irrelevant – hard work and determination mean nothing,” she said.

Schools Chancellor David Banks defended the city’s changes.
Matthew McDermott

Mayor Eric Adams and his schools chancellor, David Banks, have taken the position that it shouldn’t be such a bloodbath for a handful of high-performing schools, pushing to expand rigorous learning opportunities.

“I’m here to try to build the capacity of this whole system,” Banks said Friday at Bard High School in Queens, considered one of the most coveted schools in the city.

“I don’t want to see this system continue to have winners and losers,” he said at the Early Secondary Schools event, where public school children graduate with one to two years of university credits.

The changes to admissions came as some traditional indicators of skills and abilities, such as test scores and attendance, were constrained during the pandemic.

This school year, candidates vying for the selective programs have been grouped into four tiers based on their highest grades in seventh and eighth grade. The DOE then held a lottery in the order of these groups.

“I am reaching out to you in hopes of not being a forgotten statistic in a typical enrollment year,” one student wrote in a letter to the chancellor, read aloud by attorney Yiatin Chu. “It is a mistake to have the city experiment with a new, incremental method of admissions and to use me and those in my place as subjects.”

Half of high school applicants received an offer for their first choice, up from 46% last year, according to recent city data. Three quarters of them received an offer for one of their first three choices.

Eric Adams
Many criticized Mayor Eric Adams and Banks for their continued support for the new admissions policies.
Matthew McDermott

Proponents said the changes should increase diversity at some of the city’s most selective high schools, including Townsend Harris High School, Millennium Brooklyn High School and NYC Lab School for Collaborative Studies – which offered higher percentages of offers to black and Hispanic students this year than in prior admission cycles.

The process is separate from applying to special high schools, which rely on the Special High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) for entry.

This week, school officials reaffirmed their commitment to providing feedback opportunities and improving the process in future years, but some students who have gone through this admissions cycle may be stuck with their homework.

“When I opened my email, my heart sank,” said Samantha, an eighth-grader, whose 98-plus average didn’t get her into her school. dreams last week. “The only thought in my head was that it must have been a mistake. Not only did I get rejected from Townsend Harris, but I wasn’t accepted into any local school.

“I had never felt so devastated and to this day I continue to feel betrayed.”

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