The proposed overhaul of admissions to specialized high schools could subject black and Latino enrollees to fresh racism in their new environments, concerned parents argued at a Monday-night meeting in Brooklyn.
For the first time, the Department of Education sent top administrators Josh Wallack and LaShawn Robinson to a primarily black district to extol the city’s vision of a demographic reboot at the DOE’s eight elite schools.
A relatively sparse crowd of about 25 parents attended the meeting, with several speakers warning that an influx of black and Latino kids at the largely Asian and white schools could subject newcomers to bias.
In an effort to boost black and Latino enrollment, the DOE hopes to junk the current single-test admissions system in favor of multiple measures of assessment, including state test scores and grades.
The department wants to feed the top 7 percent of students in every city middle school to the elite campuses.
One parent noted that in 2016 a group of black students at Brooklyn Tech complained of marginalization — and she stressed that certain “stakeholders” were vehemently opposed to any admissions tinkering.
Robinson, the deputy chancellor for school climate and wellness, told the parent that uprooting “implicit biases” in city schools has become a top departmental priority.
“People have to understand and be aware of their own biases and beliefs and how those beliefs show up at our school communities every day,” she told the parent. “We know that we have the biases because we can see it in the inequities across the system.”
Another parent quizzed Wallack, the DOE enrollment boss, about quality disparities among middle schools and how those gaps in rigor might impact performance at the specialized schools.
“We know that middle schools are not all created the same,”said Felicia Alexander. “So a valedictorian from District 16 [in Brooklyn] gets into Stuyvesant and a valedictorian from District 2 [in Manhattan] gets into Stuyvesant. What supports would be there to help that District 16 student keep up? Because an A in Brooklyn may not be the same as an A in Manhattan.”
Wallack obliquely conceded the point but asserted that top finishers in all schools would be equipped to succeed in the grueling academic environments.
Detractors of the admissions-overhaul plan argue that the single-test system serves as an incorruptible measure of student diligence and preparation, while single-test opponents call it a needlessly narrow metric of talent and potential.
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