Education coalition plans next step in fight to save SHSAT

May 1, 2019 Paula Katinas
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A coalition of Southwest Brooklyn parents in a fight to save the city’s Specialized High School Admissions Test from elimination have acknowledged that a brand new group backed by deep-pocketed billionaires could help sway the battle in their favor.

The South Brooklyn Coalition for Quality Education, which Assemblymember William Colton formed in June of 2018, is now joined by the Education Equity Campaign, which has raised at least $1 million so far, a spokesperson told Chalkbeat NY.

But, the southern Brooklyn group is continuing its work to convince the state legislature to reject Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to get rid of the SHSAT.

“I am a longtime supporter of the Specialized High School Admission Test and am very happy to learn that another coalition been formed,” Colton said in a statement.

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Colton, a Democrat whose Assembly district includes parts of Gravesend and Bensonhurst, hinted that he isn’t afraid of the new group stealing his thunder. “I have been and will be continuing to oppose the mayor’s proposal to eliminate the SHSAT until I prevail,” he said.

The mayor, who has the full backing of Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, is seeking to get rid of the SHSAT and replace it with a new admissions system that would bring more racial diversity to the student body in the city’s elite public high schools.

Carranza vigorously defended de Blasio’s proposal at an education town hall in Bensonhurst in March.

“Let me be clear, because I’m not going to back off on this,” Carranza told parents at the town hall. The chancellor added that he believes the city needs to “look at who is able to get into these schools and who is not.”

Colton contended that the SHSAT isn’t the problem and that what is really needed are more programs for gifted and talented students at the elementary and middle school level. Students coming out of such programs would do better on the high school admissions test, he said.

He has introduced a bill that would require the New York City Department of Education to provide gifted and talented programs in every school district.

Doug Cohen, a DOE spokesperson, defended the proposal to scrap the SHSAT.

“A single test doesn’t capture the full talent of middle-school students, and our proposal will expand opportunity for top-performing students across the city and make these schools academically stronger,” Cohen said.

Cohen did not comment directly on Colton’s legislation, but said the DOE has worked to expand programs for gifted students. “This administration has expanded gifted and talented programs to every district, and we’ll continue to work with communities to support students’ needs,” he said.The South Brooklyn Coalition for Quality Education will hold a meeting on Saturday, June 1 at 11 the United Progressive Democratic Club, 29 Bay 25th St.

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