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Killing the elite-schools exam is just shooting the messenger

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New chancellor, same old response to the vexingly few black and Hispanic students scoring seats at the city’s top public high schools: Like her predecessor, Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter blames the test itself.

In the latest round of acceptances, Asians won 53.7 percent of all seats; whites 27.9, Hispanics 5.4, African Americans 3.6. Why? The central problem, in reality, is in the school districts serving predominantly black and Hispanic children. For starters, they’ve largely scrapped Gifted & Talented programs — a key pipeline to being ready for the specialized-high-school exam. That leaves talented kids stuck in regular classes at K-8 schools that are too often among the city’s worst.

A lesser issue: Many of the city’s brightest black and Hispanic minds get recruited out of middle school to enroll at elite private prep schools here and around the country.

And, sadly, rather few black and Hispanic kids sign up for the admission test. That’s partly the result of the constant drumbeat by activists and too many educators that “the test is unfair”: Why try when the chancellor herself claims the game is rigged against you?

To be clear, that issue predates this mayor: The Bloomberg administration did yeoman’s work advertising the test, recruiting minorities to enroll in test prep and to register for the test, yet then-Chancellor Dennis Walcott lamented that sometimes more than half of the kids recruited would fail to show up on test day.


Look: If the problem were bias favoring the wealthy, why would Asians — who as a community are predominantly immigrant and low-income — do so well? It’s telling that the various “remedies” pushed by Team de Blasio would mainly purge Asian students, not whites, from Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech and the other “elites.”

The true solution is obvious: Create more good schools. More good K-8 schools in lower-income neightborhoods (lots of excellence-oriented charter schools would open if the Legislature would just allow it) and more “selective” high schools so there are more quality seats to go around.

Killing the exam is a lot easier, but all it does is undermine the existing “elite eight” high schools — oh, and make it harder for parents to realize how badly the city schools fail their kids.

An easy answer that keeps parents ignorant: We fear that’s why Porter and her allies really focus on it.



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