Brooklyn Boro

OPINION: City’s plan to change specialized high school admission standards exposes DOE failings

June 8, 2018 By Assemblymember William Colton For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas

Parents throughout the city must mobilize against Mayor de Blasio’s plan, backed by the chancellor, to overhaul the admissions process for the city’s specialized high schools which represents the end of providing for the needs of all of New York City’s gifted and talented students.

It’s an admission that the school system has not only failed to provide the resources and programs for our talented students in poorer neighborhoods but now is trying to cover up that serious failure by eliminating the high quality of education in the specialized high schools for all of its students. High performing, talented students exist in all neighborhoods.

Currently, a student’s score on the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) determines if the student is eligible for admission and academic achievement gets rewarded.

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The mayor claims that enrollment in specialized high schools should reflect the demographics of the city without consideration for academic achievement.

He wants a small percentage of students from every middle school to be admitted. Some students who have not achieved the high standards other students have achieved and who will be challenged to perform will be admitted, and students that were rejected in order to fit demographic representation will need to find other options, either not up to their level or out of the system at private schools.

Secondly, and most importantly, it ignores the inability of the Department of Education (DOE) to help all students reach their potential. With proper education, preparation and support, every student would be equally able to sit for the SHSAT and determine their eligibility for specialized schools.

For too long, the DOE has ignored talented, high-performing students in every neighborhood.  City schools have miserably failed to provide the resources and programs to address the educational needs of these children in the early grades and middle school years.

The school system needs to identify them early and provide them with the resources and programs to develop their talents and equip them to pass the SHSAT. Our goal must be to have a high caliber education, developing the best and brightest students possible.


Changing the admission standards for specialized schools instead of investing in schools by providing gifted and talented programs to serve all children, in all neighborhoods, is a sad disservice to all parents and their children.

This is especially true in poorer neighborhoods. Instead of addressing this serious failure — which results in few students from these neglected neighborhoods being properly prepared to pass the SHSAT — the mayor, who should be held accountable under mayoral control, is choosing to eliminate the high quality of education for which these schools are renowned.

We must stop engaging in political schemes which divide our city and fail to solve the real issue of unequal education and instead find sound educational solutions which will provide a high quality education for all our children, no matter where they live.

We need to alert parents about this proposal and its impact on their children. Therefore I am having an emergency meeting on Saturday, June 16, 2018 at 11 a.m., at 29 Bay 25th Street. All are invited to attend.

We must all come together and defeat this plan and demand the mayor and chancellor commit to establishing gifted and talented programs in all neighborhoods, including poorer neighborhoods. This, if successfully planned and funded, will result in true diversity without lowering the high academic standards of these specialized high schools.

Assemblymember William Colton represents the 47th A.D.

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