EDUCATION SEGREGATION

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

Aired on April 3 & September 16, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

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.

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.

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