Parent leaders David Banks talks about new HS admissions rules
City Schools Chancellor David Banks looked stunned this week when parent leaders lectured him on how the new lottery admissions system – which downplays the importance of good grades – has led to more than 5,200 freshmen failing to drop any of their high school choices.
“Wow! Hold! Wait a second!” Banks exclaimed at a Thursday meeting of the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council, hearing that a school district representing much of Manhattan’s East Side had 18% of its students applying for high school seats. fail to land any of their maximum 12 picks.
“Those percentages you gave me… You say it’s for kids who didn’t participate in one of their 12 picks?!” He asked.
The Chancellor of the Department of Education was responding to CPAC Co-Chair Shirley Aubin, who was repeating a previous question from Leonard Silverman, a CPAC representative for Manhattan’s District 2.
“My district had the [worst] percentage of unequaled [students] with only 82% getting their 1-12 school picks,” Silverman told Banks. “Other districts … are also in the 80% range. Is there an update you can tell us to help us? »
Instead of answering the question, Banks moved on to other related topics for seven minutes, including that he wants to reduce how parents of children with special needs are “playing the system” by forcing the DOE to pay for an expensive education in a private school.
Aubin then pushed the Chancellor to answer Silverman’s question and also asked Banks what he plans to do to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen again next year.
Banks looked surprised, again asking aloud, “Of the 12 picks? They didn’t receive anything [them]?!”
“Parents are hurting and they are looking for help,” Silverman fired back.
Banks said he would meet with his staff to get more information “because it hasn’t come to my attention yet.”
The data cited by Silverman was actually released widely last month by the DOE and reported by The Post.
A total of 5,256 – or 7% – of applicants found no choice and were deemed “unmatched”, leaving their nominations at the mercy of the DOE. That’s nearly 300 more “unmatched” students than the previous year, when the city’s high schools had nearly 3,000 more applicants.
Excluding the city’s nine specialist secondary schools – which are under a separate application process – students can list up to 12 choices in order of preference.
When factoring in kids accepted into special schools, 6% of all incoming freshmen still haven’t been matched to a high school — including a low 11% citywide in District 2 and two other districts.
Banks has done an ‘admirable’ job ‘much better than his predecessors’ in his first year as Chancellor, but ‘based on his comments one has to wonder if there is a disconnect between those responsible for student enrollment and DOE leadership,” Silverman said. .
“I found his response quite surprising considering everything that’s going on,” Silverman said. “My reaction was ‘did he just say that?'”
Kaushik Das, vice president of Manhattan’s District 2 Community Education Council, was also shocked. Banks was apparently unaware of the low percentage of children in the district in the high schools of their choice.
He provided video of a February town hall where he informed Banks that 18% of District 2 students also failed to score any of their 12 high school choices until the previous school year.
“I don’t think his registration, data and community engagement teams are giving him the right information or explaining to him the seriousness of some ongoing issues,” Das said.
Debbie Kross, a parent advocate who sits on the Citywide Council of High Schools, agreed, saying she believed the Chancellor would be better informed “if he listened to… parent leaders” – rather than relying on briefings of its staff.
DOE spokesman Nathaniel Styer said “Banks’ message was clear” during the CPAC session: “We need to end the era of scarcity in our public schools and ensure that students have excellent educational options in their neighbourhoods”.
He also said “it is extremely inappropriate to mislead the public without comprehensive admissions data” that includes specialty high schools, adding that District 2 saw slight improvement under this metric over the year. former.
The Post reported last month that DOE data also shows Asian students were the biggest losers under the new admissions rules, with just 70% of applicants failing to land any of their top 5. high school choice. By comparison, 90% of black kids and 89% of Hispanics — two groups that totaled more than 45,069 of the 71,349 applicants — got one of their top 5 picks.
Seventy-six percent of the city’s white candidates landed one of their top 5 picks. The citywide average was 83%.
DOE officials blamed the gap on Asian and white students who tend to rank the schools most in demand in their applications over students of other ethnicities, meaning each student is often competing against 18 applicants or more per seat.