New York, NY, April 29, 2021 — Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education (PLACE NYC) denounces the DOE’s continuous efforts to reduce the number of Black and Hispanic students at the Specialized High Schools. The 2021 SHSAT results show NYC Department of Education (DOE)’s ongoing failure to fulfill its fundamental mission—to provide high-quality, rigorous education to all students. The DOE continues to provide a substandard education to students in low income minority neighborhoods, the DOE’s deliberate actions and inactions have disproportionately harmed Black and Hispanic students the most. This year only 8 Black students scored above the threshold for Stuyvesant, and just 9% of the next Specialized High School (SHS) freshman class will be Black and Hispanic, down from 11% last year. The most appalling fact is that the number of Black students taking the SHSAT has fallen 30% since 2015.
The 2020-21 school year was especially difficult for students and parents, but the DOE only acted to aggravate the situation. First, the DOE moved to end G&T programs and academically screened middle schools by using a lottery for admissions instead of restoring and expanding these programs and schools to all school districts. Second, the DOE deliberately limited the distribution of the SHS Guidebooks that provide critical information for students to prepare for the SHSAT. PLACE NYC met with DOE officials and implored them to distribute unused 2020 Guidebooks to 7th grade students and the 2021 Guidebooks to ALL 8th grade students; to PLACE’s knowledge, most of the Guidebooks remained in boxes at DOE storage locations. Third, the DOE held information sessions for parents that were poorly publicized and, as a result, were not well attended. This resulted in a stunning 22% decline in Black and Hispanic test takers, representing just 41% of test takers this year.
Chien Kwok, a NYC public school parent, graduate of Brooklyn Tech and member of the Executive Board of PLACE NYC, says, “When I attended Brooklyn Tech, it was over 50% Black and Hispanic — in fact it was for over 20 years. Many of my classmates had attended SP (special progress) and Gifted & Talented programs.” Mr. Kwok believes that “The current administration is deliberately sabotaging specialized high schools by refusing to fix K-8, provide universal SHSAT testing and expanding the number of schools.”
Despite there being a shortage of seats at SHS year after year, no new Specialized High Schools have been created since 2006 under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein. All NYC students deserve to have the opportunities to achieve their maximum potential. PLACE NYC urges Chancellor Meisha Porter to serve ALL NYC public students by focusing on improving the curriculum, expectation and rigor of education in all our K-8 schools and all 400+ high schools. The DOE must stop scapegoating the SHSAT year after year as a way to hide the DOE’s failure to properly educate all students.