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NYC Elite HS Admissions Plan Under Fire; Public Advocate Jumaane Williams Speaks Out

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Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, a graduate of Brooklyn Tech, one of the schools targeted by the plan, told the New York Post on Friday that implementing the mayor’s plan is tantamount to “saying your kids are too dumb to pass.” Photo Credit: jumaanewilliams.com

Another voice has been raised against Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to ditch the city’s single-test admissions system for elite high schools.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, a graduate of Brooklyn Tech, one of the schools targeted by the plan, told the New York Post on Friday that implementing the mayor’s plan is tantamount to “saying your kids are too dumb to pass.”

Williams told the Post that he thinks the plan “makes people believe that their communities are somehow dumber than others. The way it’s being presented, they’re saying your kids are too dumb to pass the test. That is an unacceptable way to present this. We will reject it every time.”

The plan, as presented by de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, would do away with the single-test system in favor of multiple measures of assessment.

Williams’s voice joins a wide-ranging chorus that has been criticizing the plan since it was announced last year. Many see it as an attempt to dumb-down the admissions process.

Last June, de Blasio’s office pointed out that the elimination of the Specialized High Schools Admissions test would require state legislation. “By the end of the elimination, the SHS would reserve seats for top performers at each New York City middle school. When the law is passed, the test would be phased out over a three-year period. Based on modeling of current offer patterns, 45 percent of offers would go to black and Latino students, compared to 9 percent currently; 62 percent of offers would go to female students, compared to 44 percent currently; and four times more offers would go to Bronx residents.

“There are talented students all across the five boroughs, but for far too long our specialized high schools have failed to reflect the diversity of our city,” said de Blasio. “We cannot let this injustice continue. By giving a wider, more diverse pool of our best students an equal shot at admissions, we will make these schools stronger and our City fairer.”

Carranza echoed, “As a lifelong educator, a man of color, and a parent of children of color, I’m proud to work with our Mayor to foster true equity and excellence at our specialized high schools. With the partnership of the State Legislature, we’re going to live up to what our public schools and what New York City are truly about – opportunity for all. This is what’s right for our kids, our families, and our city.”

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