EDUCATION SEGREGATION

April 04, 2019 at 4:30 am

Out of 895 slots to attend prestigious Stuyvesant High School, only 7 Black and 21 Hispanic students were accepted. Why? A deep dive into the racial divide that exists in New York’s specialized schools and to look for solutions.

Aired on April 3, 2019. 

Transcript Print

>> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO
"METROFOCUS."
I'M JACK FORD.
WHEN IT COMES TO GETTING INTO
NEW YORK CITY'S EIGHT
SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS,
QUESTIONS HAVE BEEN RAISED
WHETHER EVERY STUDENT INDEED HAS
A FAIR SHOT.
STUYVESANT HIGH SCHOOL, OFTEN
CONSIDERED THE CITY'S MOST
SELECTIVE AND PRESTIGIOUS OF ALL
OF ITS PUBLIC HIGHS.
BUT HERE IS THE RUB.
OUT OF 895 OPEN FRESHMAN SLOTS
AVAILABLE FOR INCOMING STUDENT,
ONLY 7 AFRICAN AMERICAN AND 21
HISPANIC STUDENTS WERE SELECTED
FOR ACCEPTANCE.
CRITICS SAY THE FHSAP OR
SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOL
ADMISSION TEST IS BLAME.
ARE THERE OTHER FACTORS AND
OTHER SOLUTIONS?
WE'LL HEAR INSIGHTS.
IS CHILINA ADAMS.
AUTHOR OF AMONG OTHER BOOKS,
WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE YOU.
ZL THANK YOU.
>> CERTAINLY SOMEONE WHO'S STUDY
ALL THIS AND LIVED THROUGH THEM.
WE'LL TALK YOUR OWN FAMILY'S
EXPERIENCES IN ALL THIS.
LET ME ASK YOU TO START FOR
FOLKS WHO MIGHT NOT BE FAMILIAR
WITH THIS TEST.
EXPLAIN WHAT IT IS AND HOW IT
WORKS WITH REGARD TO THIS
SELECTION PROCESS.
>> THE SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOL
ADMISSIONS TEST, SHSAT IS A TEST
KIDS TAKE IN OCTOBER OF THEIR
8th GRADE YEAR IN ORDER TO APPLY
TO ONE OF THE SPECIALIZED PUBLIC
NEW YORK CITY HIGH SCHOOLS.
WHAT HAPPENS IS ABOUT 30,000
KIDS TAKE THE TEST.
AND THEN THEY TAKE THEIR SCORE
AND THEY RANK THEMLOGICAL
LITERALLY FROM NUMBER 1 TO
NUMBER 30,000 WITH OBVIOUSLY A
LOT OF TIES.
AND THEN ON THE DAY THE KIDS
HAVE TAKEN THE TEST, THEY HAVE
RANKED THE EIGHT SCHOOLS IN THE
ORDER THEY PREFER.
>> SO THEY HAVE SOME ELEMENT OF
CONTRIBUTION TO THE DECISION
SAYING THIS IS MY ORDER.
>> AND NOT EVERYBODY CHOOSES THE
SAME SCHOOL.
YOU MENTION STUYVESANT IS
CONSIDERED THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS
BUT THE FACTOR OF THE MARTTER I
IF YOU ARE A KID THAT LIVES IN
THE BOTTOM OF BROOKLYN, IT MAKES
A DINS ON THE GEOGRAPHIC PIECE.
DIFFERENT NUMBERS OF STUDENTS.
DIFFERENT ACTIVITIES.
IT IS NOT LIKE EVERYONE GREASE
THIS IS THAT RANK ORDER OF THEM.
SO THE KIDS WHEN THEY TAKE THE
TEST THEY RANK THE ORDER THEY
PREFER OF THE SCHOOLS.
THEY DON'T HAVE TO RANK ALL
EIGHT.
AND THEN AN ALGORITHM BASICALLY
PULLS THE FIRST KID.
THE KID WHO HAS THE HIGHEST
SCORE.
AND IT SAYS WHAT IS THIS KID'S
FIRST CHOICE?
STUYVESANT.
OKAY HE'S GOING TO STUYVESANT.
THEN TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE.
PULL THE NUMBER 500th KID.
WHAT IS HIS FIRST CHOICE.
BRONX SCIENCE.
OKAY HE'S GOING BRONX SIGN.
THE NUMBER 1,000 KID NAME.
STUYVESANT IS FULL.
WHAT'S HIS SECOND CHOICE?
BRONX SCIENCE.
HE'S GOING TO BRONX SCIENCE AND
SO ON DOWN THE LIST UNTIL ALL
THE SLOTS IN EVERY SCHOOL ARE
FILLED.
>> SO AM I CORRECT THAT'S THE
ABSOLUTE DETERMINING FACTOR FOR
WHERE THEY GO?
THIS IS NOT LIKE COLLEGE
APPLICATIONS WHERE THEY WILL SAY
OKAY LET'S LOOK AT WHAT THEY DID
IN SCHOOL.
WHERE ARE THEY IN THE DRAMA
CLUB?
>> YOU ARE 100% CORRECT.
>> SO THAT NUMBER.
>> THAT'S IT.
NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.
YOUR GRADES DON'T MATTER.
STATE TEST SCORES DON'T MATTER.
ATTENDANCE.
EXTRACURRICULARS.
PORTFOLIO.
NONE OF THAT MATTERS.
THE ONLY EIGHT SCHOOLS IN THE
CITY THAT ADMIT THAT WAY ARE THE
SHSAT SCHOOLS AND THE SHSAT IS
THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS SO
THERE ARE SOME 400 HIGH SCHOOLS
IN NEW YORK CITY.
>> AND ABOUT 700 PROGRAMS WITHIN
THEM.
>> WITHIN THOSE.
AND AM I CORRECT THAT THERE ARE
SOME OTHER SCHOOLS THAT ARE
SELECTIVE IN SOME WAY, SHAPE OR
FORM.
>> YES ABOUT --
>> AND WHAT DO THEY LOOK TO IN
TERMS OF FACTORS.
>> ABOUT 130 SCHOOLS ARE WHAT'S
CALLED SCREEN SCHOOLS.
EITHER STAND ALONE SCREEN
SCHOOLS OR SCREENED PROGRAMS
WITHIN OTHER SCHOOLS.
THEY DO LOOK AT GRADES.
THEY DO LOOK AT STATE TEST
SCORES.
THEY DO LOOK AT ATTENDANCE.
SOME OF THEM WILL ASK THE KIDS
TO SUBMIT A WRITING SAMPLE.
SOME OF THEM WILL HAVE THEM
WRITE TO A PROMPT.
SOME OF THEM HAVE THEIR OWN
TEST.
SOME OF THEM HAVE AN INTERVIEW
AND SOME OF THEM REVIEW
PORTFOLIOS.
AND SOME ALSO HAVE A PERFORMING
ARTS COMPONENT.
SO THESE ARE SCREENED SCHOOLS.
THEY ARE SEPARATE FROM THE SHSAT
SCHOOLS.
>> YEAH.
NOW I'VE MENTIONED THERE ARE
SOME CONCERNS EXPRESSED ABOUT
THIS TEST.
THE MAYOR HAS ESSENTIALLY SAID
THIS IS UNFAIR.
WE WANT TO DO WITH IT --
>> -- GRADUATED --
>> TRAZ THAT IS AN INTERESTING
OBSERVATION.
AND YOU WROTE A VERY INTERESTING
ARTICLE WHERE YOU SAID
ESSENTIALLY LOOK, WE'RE KILLING
THE MESSENGER HERE.
WHY DO YOU THEN THINK -- OR
DISAGREE I THINK FAIR TO SAY
WITH THE POSITION OF THE PEOPLE
WHO WHO ARE SAYING WE NEED TO
THROW THIS TEST OUT TO MAKE SURE
THAT WE'RE MORE FAIR AND OUR
STUDENTS HAVE BETTER
OPPORTUNITIES?
>> WELL FIRST OF ALL ONCE AGAIN
LOOK LET'S LOOK AT THE NUMBERS.
EIGHT SHSAT SCHOOLS.
130 SCREENED SCHOOLS.
400 GENERAL HIGH SCHOOLS.
FIRST WE'RE JUST FOCUSING ON A
TINY SLIVER OF SCHOOLS THAT
AFFECT A VERY SMALL PERCENTAGE
OF THE POPULATION.
SECOND, THE MAYOR IS TRYING TO
CHANGE ADMISSIONS TO THE SHSAT,
WHICH HE CANNOT DO ON HIS OWN.
HE COULD TO FIVE OF THEM.
HE CAN'T TO THE BIG THREE AS
THEY ARE CALLED.
THAT HAS TO BE DONE AT THE STATE
LEVEL.
THAT HAS TO GO TO THE STATE
ASSEMBLY.
HE COULD CHANGE ADMISSIONS TO
THE 130 OTHER SCHOOLS.
HE COULD CHANGE ADMISSIONS TO
ALL OF THE OTHER PUBLIC SCHOOLS
CAN WHICH SOEFKT AFFECT SO MANY
STUDENTS.
ESPECIALLY THOSE OF COLOR
ESPECIALLY LOW INCOME SCHOOLS.
TO START I THINK WE'RE FOCUSSING
ON THE WRONG THING.
WE'RE TRYING TO CHANGE EIGHT
SCHOOLS INSTEAD OF ALL OF THE
REST OF THEM.
THE SECOND ISSUE IS THE SHSAT IS
A DIAGNOSTIC.
IT SHOWS WHAT A TERRIBLE
EDUCATION THE MAJORITY OF THE
KIDS IN NEW YORK CITY ARE
GETTING.
>> LOT OF PEOPLE THINK WELL THE
TEST IS A BIG DEAL.
YOU SAY, THIS TEST ESSENTIALLY
IS A SYMPTOM OF THE DISEASE.
THE TEST IS NOT THE DISEASE.
>> YES.
VERY MUCH SO.
HERE IS THE THING.
THE TEST IS ABOVE GRADE LEVEL.
IT IS ONE OF THE REASONS THAT
PEOPLE SAY, WELL STATE TEST
SCORES SHOULD BE JUST AS GOOD
FOR APPLYING TO AN SHSAT AS THE
SHSAT IS.
STATE TEST SCORES TELL YOU IF
THE CHILD IS ON GRADE LEVEL OR
SLIGHTLY ABOVE GRADE LEVEL.
THE SHSAT ACTUALLY TESTS
SUBJECTS LIKE ALGEBRA, HAS SOME
GEOGRAPHY ON IT.
IT HAS -- SORRY.
GEOMETRY.
DOESN'T HAVE GEOGRAPHY.
NEW YORK -- ARE NOT GOOD WITH
GEOGRAPHY.
ALGEBRA.
GEOGRAPHY.
HAS SOME GRAMMAR AND ALL OF
THESE THINGS.
THEY ARE LOOKING FOR KIDS WHO
ARE ENOUGH ABOVE GRADE LEVEL
THAT THEY CAN DO ACCELERATED
WORK.
SOME KIDS COME INTO STUYVESANT
AND THEY CAN TAKE AN AP CLASS IN
FRESHMAN YEAR.
THEY ARE PREPARED FOR THAT.
SO THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS
STATE TEST SCORES ARE NOT EQUAL
TO WHAT THE SHSAT IS TESTING.
SO WHAT THE SHSAT IS SHOWING IS
HOW VERY, VERY FEW NEW YORK CITY
STUDENTS ARE PREPARED TO DO
ACCELERATED WORK.
>> WHAT IS -- YOU AND I COULD
TALK ABOUT THIS FOREVER.
UNFORTUNATELY WE DON'T HAVE THAT
MUCH TIME.
SO CLEARLY YOUR THESIS IS THIS
IS SHOWING THAT THE SCHOOLS ARE
NOT GOING A GOOD JOB THAT SO FEW
PEOPLE ARE PREPARED FOR THIS
ABOVE LEVEL.
WHAT IS THE ANSWER?
WHAT SHOULD WE BE DOING?
WHAT DO YOU THINK NEW YORK CITY
SCHOOLS SHOULD BE DOING IN
INSTEAD.
>> FIRST LET'S TALK RAISING THE
BAR FOR ALL KIDS AND LET'S TALK
ABOUT RAISING IT NOT IN NINTH
GRADE BUT AT THE KINDERGARTEN
LEVEL.
THE MAYOR KEEPS ADDING NEW
PIECES TO THE SCHOOL SYSTEM.
UPK, 3 PK BUT THE FACTOR OF THE
MATTER IS THE BAR IS STILL SO
LOW.
WHAT WE CALL GIFTED EDUCATION IN
THE UNITED STATES WOULD BE
CONSIDERED GENERAL ED THREE
YEARS AGO IN EUROPE AND ASIA.
IF THOSE KIDS CAN DO THE WORK
THERE IS NO REASON WHY OUR KIDS
CAN'T DO THE WORK.
>> WE COULD TALK FOR HOURS ABOUT
THIS.
WE'RE GOING TO GET YOU BACK IN
AND TALK MORE ABOUT IT.
CHILINA, A PLEASURE.
LOOK FORWARD TO TALK TOING YOU
AGAIN.
DO WELL.
>> THANK YOU.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

WNET

© WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019