Although the mayor’s proposal is modest, opposition to it has been enormous. Opponents defend wholeheartedly the use of the SHSAT. It’s their belief that this high-stakes exam is objective, merit-based, and fair. This opposition movement is largely backed by lobbyist groups funded by CEOs, and alumni associations with deep pockets. Its ranks also include self-described progressives such as Jumanee Williams, alumnus of the specialized school system and current New York City Public Advocate. Instead of scrapping the SHSAT, they believe the city should instead expand access to the exam, invest in SHSAT preparation services, and open more SHS.
UFT opposes single measure admissions
The union is on record criticizing and challenging the validity of a single test as the sole criteria for high stakes decisions – such as entrance to early elementary gifted and talented programs or specialized high schools. The proponents of these standardized tests for entrance to competitive screened schools allege the tests are a reliable, objective measure that reinforce the schools’ success and set the standard for academic achievement; ultimately, it’s not broke, so no need to fix it.
It seems unlikely that Bill A10427 will succeed, according to Michael Mulgrew. This has been our assumption from the beginning as well.
“I don’t believe at this point in time it can pass in the next legislative session because it has been so highly politicized,” Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said during a panel discussion hosted by City & State and moderated by Chalkbeat.
Mulgrew’s comments underscore the challenge ahead for de Blasio’s plan, which calls for eliminating the single test that determines admission at eight of the city’s top high schools and instead admitting the top 7 percent of students at every middle school across the city.
UFT Michael Mulgrew’s opinion
The United Federation of Teachers has made repeated suggestions for improving the admission process in the “exam” schools, including using multiple measures and prioritizing the highest-level performers from every middle school.
But however that debate turns out, the real focus of the DOE and our local political leaders should be on the academic segregation described in the Parthenon Report, a problem that the education bureaucracy and political leaders have largely ignored.