Good morning on this hot and windy Thursday.
The school year is winding down, but a rancorous debate at our city’s elite public high schools is just heating up.
A new plan to diversify the schools has emotions running high. That’s understandable: The change brings together issues of segregation, inequality, class and privilege — not to mention the future of our city’s children.
But as important as this story is, it’s also complicated. Here’s a quick explanation of the proposed changes and the controversy surrounding them.
What’s the new plan?
This month, Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed a change to the way eight of the city’s nine specialized high schools admit students. Under the mayor’s plan, the Specialized High School Admissions Test — a one-day exam that serves as the sole criterion for admission — would be eliminated. Instead, top students would be accepted based on class rank and statewide test scores.
Why is he doing this?
In an op-ed published on Chalkbeat, the mayor said these schools have a diversity problem, calling it a “monumental injustice.” Black and Hispanic students make up 67 percent of the city’s public school population, but only 10 percent of the incoming students at the elite schools. Asian-American students make up 16 percent of the school system and 62 percent at the elite schools; white students make up 15 percent of the overall population and 24 percent at the elite schools. There are more than 600 middle schools in the city, but just 21 of those schools supply half the students at the elite high schools, the mayor said.
So what’s the problem with the plan?
Some say the plan to add more diversity would actually discriminate against a minority group: Asian-Americans. By adding more black and Hispanic students to the schools, the number of Asian-American students would necessarily decrease. Kenneth Chiu, president of the New York City Asian-American Democratic Club, called the plan discriminatory. And Peter Koo, a city councilman, said the test, as it exists now, is “the most unbiased way to get into a school.”
Is there more to the plan?
Yes. While the admissions test remains, Mr. de Blasio has set aside 20 percent of the seats at the specialized schools for low-income students who score just below the cutoff.
What does the research say about the plan?
It’s mixed. A study at New York University examined six plans to diversify the schools. Taking students from all middle schools was the only plan that had a big effect on demographics. It also found that it would lower academic performance among admitted students. Another study by the Community Service Society did not find a drop in performance.
The first part of the mayor’s plan, reserving seats for low-income students, has been put in place and will affect students applying for fall 2019. Eliminating the test entirely would require approval from the State Legislature and, so far, they haven’t budged.
What do you think about the mayor’s plan to change the city’s public schools? We want to hear from you. Tell us about your experiences with the test using this form.
Here’s what else is happening:
We’re looking forward to recess today.
The sunshine has us skipping and the toasty high of 84 will make a stop at the drinking fountain extra refreshing.
Arts and crafts should be held inside this afternoon — it’s looking gusty.
In the News
• Michael D. Cohen, the president’s longtime personal fixer, will soon part from the legal team representing him in a federal investigation. [New York Times]
• African-American voters across New York are looking to capitalize on the significance of their vote this election year, as race and identity has been brought to the political forefront. [New York Times]
• Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo holds a 35-point advantage among likely voters over Cynthia Nixon, according to a Siena College poll. [New York Times]
• A judge dismissed charges against an upstate district attorney who was accused of lying to a grand jury about his handling of a 2016 police related shooting. [New York Times]
• Cynthia Nixon, an experienced activist in the public schools, released her education platform. It’s ambitious, progressive and expensive. [New York Times]
• Ivana Trump, the president’s first ex-wife who put the “the” in “the Donald,” made a visit back to the Plaza Hotel. [New York Times]
• Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, who helped establish the foundation of hip-hop as a member of the Last Poets, has died at 73. [New York Times]
• City Council proposed a bill to expand vendor-free zones in downtown Manhattan near the World Trade Center. Street vendors are protesting it. [am New York]
• The police department’s growing gang database is under scrutiny of community advocates and groups, which have likened their concerns to those of stop-and-frisk practices. [Gothamist]
• Today’s Metropolitan Diary: “Stairway to Disappointment”
• For a global look at what’s happening, see Your Morning Briefing.
Coming Up Today
• The World Cup kicks off today. Here’s where you can watch your team play during the tournament, surrounded by expats. Various times and locations.
• Dance Week offers dozens of classes, from ballet and samba to hip-hop, at various times and locations around the city. [Free]
• Pride Week begins today with a human rights conference at the SUNY Global Center in Midtown Manhattan. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. [$ 50]
• Catch an al fresco performance of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Castle Clinton in Battery Park. 6 p.m. [Free]
• Yankees host Rays, 7:05 p.m. (FS1). Mets at Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m. (SNY).
• Alternate-side parking remains in effect until tomorrow.
• For more events, see The New York Times’s Arts & Entertainment guide.
The Bronx has the Yankees, Queens has the Mets and Staten Island has … the Pizza Rats.
Two years ago, the Staten Island Yankees asked fans to pick a new name for the team.
The voting was done online, and the Yankees learned the hard way what happens when you crowdsource names on the internet.
The winner: the Pizza Rats, named after New York’s most infamous rodent.
Of course, not everyone is happy with the temporary name change. The Staten Island borough president, Jimmy Oddo, said in a tweet that the idea was “dopey,” and Councilwoman Debi Rose pointed out on Twitter that Staten Island doesn’t even have a subway.
Still, two years after his fair-and-square victory, we’re glad Pizza Rat is finally getting his piece of the pie.
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