Brooklyn Boro

LISTEN: Should the SHSAT be eliminated?

June 20, 2019 By Scott Enman, Paul Frangipane, Lawrence Madsen
Share this:

Subscribe to Brooklyn this Week:

Black and Latino students make up the majority of the city’s public schools, yet are the minority at the eight specialized high schools that operate under the SHSAT. This apparent lack of diversity drove de Blasio and Carranza to push for an overhaul of the admissions process.

Asian-American parents, whose children make up more than 60 percent of the specialized schools’ populations, argued the new plan is an attack on their kids who work hard, study and prepare for the exam.

Subscribe to our newsletters

“You want a driver’s license? You need to take the test. You want to be a doctor? You need to take the test. So what is wrong with the test?” asked Nancy Tong, an aide to Assesmblymember William Colton. “What I would suggest is that they should start having gifted and talented classes to prepare the kids when it’s time for them to go and take their high school exam.”

Colton, alongside Assemblymember Peter Abbate, Councilmember Chaim Deutsch and five other city lawmakers have called for a new schools chancellor who could help “unite,” the city.

But last Thursday, the state’s 63-member Black, Puerto Rican, and Asian Caucus, came out in favor of the overhaul.

“We believe that it’s part of the strategy to increase the number of people of color or students of color at our specialized high schools,” said Assemblymember Tremaine Wright, who chairs the caucus. “We don’t think that just because this is their proposal that this has to be the final option and the only answer, but we do believe that having the test as the only measure is not good policy.”

Some claim that an algorithm put in place in 2004 has been a driving factor of racial disparities in city public schools, both specialized and not. The system that helps place students in one of their preferred high schools perpetuate racial bias and hurts certain groups’ chances, according to a youth-run organization.

IntegrateNYC troubleshooted anti-racist prototype algorithms at an April hackathon.

“The algorithm itself is completely neutral,” said Yana Kalmyka, IntegrateNYC’s director of research. “But because schools are implementing these racist and classist metrics, it creates an inequitable outcome, making New York City schools one of the most segregated public school systems in the country.”

  • Interview with Nancy Tong at 1:21
  • Interview with Tremaine Wright at 3:28
  • Interview with Sarita Subramanian at 7:04
  • Interview with Yana Kalmyka at 8:22

Brooklyn this Week‘s host Lawrence Madsen is a native New Yorker. He graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in History, and volunteers with the disaster relief group Team Rubicon.

Subscribe to Brooklyn this Week:

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment