It shouldn’t have been so difficult to feel welcomed in my own school. Something is wrong when students feel alienated in the space where they spend the majority of their time. My experience is part of a bigger problem. Black students remain vastly underrepresented at New York’s elite specialized high schools.
It’s a terrible title, but the article makes the rare decision of asking students what they thought.
I think TJ was right to get rid of the admissions test, because it makes it more fair for everyone. Now, people who can afford to spend thousands of dollars on test-prep programs won’t have an advantage over people who can’t. I think a lot of students agree with me.
But the debate seems to be really political now, and driven mostly by parents.
These days, however, many Asian parents are unfortunately wasting hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on expensive tutoring and preparatory classes. This industry’s sole purpose is to train children to ace standardized admissions tests, which bar the entrance to many magnet high schools and colleges across the country. “Enroll your child, and we’ll virtually guarantee they get into the top schools!” This, of course, is a lie. For example, TJ only has a few hundred openings each year, despite the thousands of kids who apply.
Although I am about to enter my senior year and doing well at Brooklyn Tech, I don’t think my eligibility for getting into any school should be based on one test. In fact, I excel in community leadership and have started my own organization to raise awareness about racism and hate crimes. I get good grades and am an excellent writer, which is how I got accepted to write for YouthComm Magazine. As New York City Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter said during a recent interview with students: “I think there are students who are so gifted and talented in so many different ways.”
The usage of examples of Asian success to justify our current high school system harms all communities of color. This rhetoric reduces the Asian American community to a monolith by focusing on a subset of its population. Educational inequity affects all minority groups, and we need to recognize the ways in which it comes into play among Asian Americans. Our current high school admissions model might appear to favor Asian students—and sure, there are definitely students that benefit from it—but the pushback against reform, couched in praise for industrious minority families, is hurting and dividing the Asian American community as well as minorities as a whole.
“I started to slowly realize that a lot of these kids had kind of been sheltered from other races of people to the point where they didn’t really know how to be racially sensitive,” said Yarde, 17, who graduated Monday. “It seemed like kids were either automatically intimidated by me, or they immediately undermined me.”
Wint attended Stuyvesant when she was a student in the late 2000s but left the school her junior year, a decision she attributes to the overt racism she experienced there.
Homework for regular classes is supposed to be capped at an hour over two days, or two hours for Advanced Placement classes, Giordano explained.
Much of the discussion about the path forward has often been mired in the debate over academic standards.
“It often comes down to this zero sum game, that in order to support students’ mental health that we need to give a little on the academics,” he said. “I think they’re both possible. They both need to be possible.”
Yet for years, neither the mayor nor the Legislature — nor anyone in Hunter College leadership — has taken the necessary action to overhaul a system that bases admissions to the most coveted schools on just a test, the SHSAT or the Hunter test. There’s not a single elite college in America that bases its admissions only on SAT or ACT scores, yet New York City’s best high schools make a single, homegrown exam make or break for thousands of students, despite results that worsen segregation.
I asked if there was any plan to offer integrated co-teaching in the fall. “Not that we know of,” came the response. I then asked how many special education teachers they had on staff. Despite everything I already knew about Tech and the competitive admissions process to get there, I was still shocked: the answer was two. There were two special education classroom teachers for nearly 6,000 students.