Let's take second look at SHSAT


To the editor:

(re: “Dinowitz disses mayor’s plan for specialized high schools,” June 21)

Chancellor Richard Carranza and Mayor de Blasio propose a universal approach to restructuring the admissions process to the New York City specialized high schools.

A universal approach suggests a mission motivated by a greater good. One might consider that sometimes new policy aims to fix an unexpected outcome of prevailing programs, improve efficiency, cut costs, or incrementally redirect an organizational mission.

A universal policy as proposed by the mayor and the chancellor sets out a new public mission. This policy has implications for a wide arena of social outcomes. For example, middle schools — which previously had no students enter a specialized high school — will now have 7 percent of their graduates admitted. This might also mean that more students in that school’s neighborhood will go to a specialized high school where previously few in the neighborhood went to school outside of their zoned neighborhood school.

Under this proposal, all middle schools will offer this opportunity and might now be more attractive to a family who might previously had been attracted to zoned schools in a different neighborhood.

For example, why move one’s family into Riverdale to send one’s middle school student to M.S./H.S. 141, when 7 percent of students from P.S. 95 will also be admitted to a specialized school. 

This new education policy will affect inter-neighborhood migration patterns. Not only migration within our inner-city neighborhoods, but a teacher who previously had no students admitted to a specialized high school will now have some specialized high school-bound students in their class.

This teacher might find that some students who might have left the neighborhood for a “better” schooled neighborhood will stay put, and that some families might migrate into a previously less sought-after school zone. Perhaps these new inter-neighborhood migration patterns will affect school culture, and might produce even better outcomes for the other 93 percent of students who now occupy a classroom with some higher performing classmates.

The Chancellor Carranza and Mayor de Blasio policy might have an effect on segregation and commerce within neighborhoods as families look for underperforming schools, schools which still admit 7 percent of their graduates to a specialized high school. 

Underperforming schools might now improve due to a change in social influence and engagement of students motivated by an attainable goal and possible desegregation.

This new education policy might do more to address the declining social mobility of the working poor than has been considered. 

As this debate takes place, perhaps policymakers might consider the greater good for the greater number, which can be a defining action of social justice.

Dean Parker

The author is a former vice president of the District 10 Communication Education Council.

Dean Parker