City Announces New Initiatives to Increase Diversity at Specialized High Schools

In 2016 Mayor de Blasio tried a variety of approaches to get more Black and Latinx students into specialized high schools. This included tutoring and outreach costing $15M over 5 years.

None of these initiatives worked in the end. One reason for this is that city tutoring would end up competing with an increasingly aggressive private tutoring industry. NYC’s DREAM tutoring claimed a 10% success rate, but so did the larger tutoring services with thousands of students.

“In my district, many parents pay top dollar for test prep programs, an option lower income families do not always have. Each child has a right to be prepared for this exam regardless of socio-economic status, race or ethnicity,”

Senator Toby Ann Stavisky

The problem with the senator’s logic is that NYC’s DREAM only caters for a few hundred of the city’s 30,000 students who take the exam. But even then it costs millions.

“Our specialized high schools need to better reflect the diversity of our neighborhoods and our City while maintaining their high standards, and this strong package of reforms is an important step forward,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This is a matter of fairness – we have to ensure that high-performing students who are black and Latino, and who come from low-income neighborhoods, have the same opportunities to enroll and thrive in these schools.” 

“These new initiatives are an important step towards more diverse specialized high schools,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “This is about equity and excellence for all of our high-performing middle school students, regardless of their zip code or background. We’re going to increase diversity without lowering any standards; to the contrary, greater diversity will help all our students succeed.”