Tag Archive: education

Op-ed Response

I blinked when I first read this a few weeks ago.

Though about 70 percent of city students are black or Hispanic, from 2006 to 2012 the two groups, combined, were offered only about 15 percent of the seats at the specialized high schools, according to the Education Department.

A little askew right? Numbers aren’t mine thing; if they were I wouldn’t be so broke all the time. But I know 70% off. I shop that bin quite frequently. 70% seems like a much smaller number considering years have gone by when I haven’t seen a self-identified caucasian student (though most of the teachers I’ve worked with are.)

And it’s been on my head a lot, and then I read an OP-Ed about the same thing, and something has been burning in me fierce for the past few hours.

Note II: The Article in which I am talking about can be found here.

On the NYPOST website. I know.

The first commentary in this topic regarding “the NAACP’s lawsuit against STHSAT” is full of unneccessary-ness. I can’t really express my disgust at the venom he carries regarding the lawsuit. I am not really up for engaging every point he says in a point, counter point way, but I must implore him to look at the facts of the situation.

The NYC Public school system is overwhelmingly minority. Not just any minority but Black, and Hispanic- and then the rest of the races filter in. There are weeks that I’ve gone by without seeing a white child, and if there if there are Asian students, they most certainly do not number such to claim the majority in a classroom. I’ve also seen firsthand that the Catholic Schools of New York, also have a seemingly overwhelming minority population (primarily hispanic.)

Enrollment data from the Dept. of Ed. shows that of the NYC Schools over half are overwhelming (90% or more) of just one race class, being Black or Hispanic. Thus that puts the number of schools roughly somewhere near 800 that are purely separated by one single minority. Now consider this statement, there are another 500 hundred schools that are 75% of both races combined. Thus by randomly picking the top students at most school and filling them in proportionally at Honors/Specialized High Schools – those schools should reflect the population of the City that it serves in some way. Yet, Asians hold most of the spots, then followed by whites, then blacks and then hispanics. The situation is highly reversed from what the typical school looks like. Anyone who thinks that there is nothing wrong with this situation must still believe that racial bias died with Brown Vs The Board of Education. Separate but Equal was disproved as anything but in 1954, why does anyone not see the equivalency in the situation now.

If it’s been proven to show that the CollegeBoard’s SAT has a racial slant in the stories and words used, then why can’t it be feasible to believe that the Specialized High School Admission Tests ShSAT’s can have the same bias. This wouldn’t be the first time that the courts have ruled against a public authority in NYC- the Firefighter’s exam was deemed racially biased in 2012 and millions were awarded to minority applicants.

It is possible that both social and economic conditions as well, as a biases in the test can contribute to situation at hand. There are other things tearing at our social fabric but to subtly suggest that a race or “Welfare” card is being thrown around- it is almost morally irredeemable in an argument. Contrary to what the lead dissenter has said, there are in fact single parent homes of all races, and all family sizes that struggle and push their children to strive harder.

This has gotten overly long and I would like to revisit this soon. However, the fact of the matter is, there is clearly something wrong when in a public system in one of America’s richest cities, that the coveted spots, the Faberge eggs of students that should be shining as examples for the hardest of stones. Really, all school should be amazing, and ideally all students would be motivated but they aren’t. When Bloomberg dismantled G&T programs and set the standard for entrance to schools at a number he failed the essay portion of what it means to be involved in teaching. More and more we are telling our children that the raw score counts but that is not the only thing that will make your grade. We are being impressed that assessment should come in different forms; not everyone knows how to game a test, but showing that you can apply the skills instead of rote recall has its merits. What Math teacher hasn’t said show your work! On the Regents, you have to demonstrate the steps to arriving there. The damned test isn’t maker or breaker of life- Steve Jobs didn’t finish college. And who hasn’t heard of a musician who doesn’t read well, but plays beautifully? Or an artist that doesn’t know everyone Expressionist but can show you in practice what could not be reduced to answers A-D. Wasn’t Good Will Hunting about this?

Even now, NY State moves towards a portfolio assessment of its teachers skills, to gauge their teaching skills because testing just wasn’t enough. Sure,a nice score has its merits, but just because someone isn’t able to recall everyone of Dewey’s educational principals doesn’t mean that they are not familiar with other techniques. Nor does recalling every principle mean that you can put them into action effectively.

There’s not a thing yet as a perfect test, yet. Especially for large groups. Which means we need to tailor the tests and make sure that we are giving he right test for the right person. The GRE has learned that with its adaptive reasoning ability. My thoughts are not for a quota or something like that. I believe just as one commenter suggested that EVERY student should have access to tutors or help to get into these schools or high quality programs. Hell, I couldn’t afford that. That’s several Ipads. And a few Ipad mini’s too. Or a good used car. I’ve watched some hard-working, smart children sit in classes that are ruined by kids who didn’t want to be there, who would rather be chilling out in the hood or something, but because they are forced to be there they are. I’ve personally have left work frustrated as all hell because I couldn’t give more time to a student who was there and ready and saying “teach me” but little Johnny Brat- whose parents are by no means poor or crack friends-decided that that was the period to play football.

NYC has pushed for Inclusion of Special Education children into General Education classes so why not give General Education ranked children who show the aptitude the chance to excel and thrive in these specialized programs; I think that’s a fair solution, and if they start falling or can’t keep up, then at that time, let’s reassess their options. Let’s make an IEP for their “handicap” in this situation. But this quote “the score’s, the score and life ain’t always fair” that Bloomberg said, is the score is nonsense. Why modify with “life aim’t always fair” unless there is something unbalancing the ground.

I’m really curious to see where the Mode (the number that appears the most) Score of the underrepresented minorities lie. Is there even one, or are they just missing the slightly. But there’s no way that you can tell that there are entire districts in the 5 boroughs where there were no students who scored well enough to even sit for the exam. 65% of students don’t have access to these schools.


Again, I’d like to revisit this, but something clearly is wrong.

For some additional reading, check out this New York Times Article. This article contains the lead in quote I used.

[Chester Kent]


Starting 2013, students in NYS will have three pathways to graduate besides the traditional diploma. Currently students have to pass the English regents, earth science or living environment for science, math a and global a and b (as the history requirement.). Students will now additionally be able to choose from a cte diploma (which is for career and technical engineering) and a modified regents with less global history. The reasoning behind this is that “a one size fits all education doesn’t work.”
Seriously? Really? Tell me something new. How do these new diploma options address the needs of sped students or even students who just need reasonable accommodations? How do these new diplomas address the fact that these tests are not reflective of the experiences of students in urban environments?
I don’t see this being anything other than a blip in news. Or maybe a distractor from other recent education stories which haven’t put state testing in a nice light.
I worry that the sped kids and 504 kids will be steered into the CTE courses. Not that that’s a bad idea for some kids, but generally these things end up being wholesale discounting of scores of children who just needed extra help.