To the Editor:
The June 21 editorial in The Chief (“Don’t Be Quiet, Just Smarter”), called on New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza to “stop lighting fires” in his attempt to diversify our public schools, which have been cited as the most segregated in the country.
It is disappointing, if not surprising, to read this language. The gross disparities in our school system can’t be solved by “funding more test-prep,” as the column also advocates, an approach that has already been tried, and which has failed to produce any improvements. Rather, we need to drastically reimagine admissions processes at all levels of our schools, which today exist as simply a way to sort students by their parents’ income.
It may take a little “fire” to ignite the change needed to make our public-school system more equitable. We applaud the Chancellor’s efforts.
DAVID R. JONES
President and CEO
Community Service Society
of New York
Richard Steier replies: I agree with Mr. Jones that the disparities in the school system won’t be solved simply by universal test-prep. As I’ve noted in previous columns and editorials, the emphasis on the specialized schools has grown so dramatically because parents and students no longer have confidence in their neighborhood high schools in many cases, and the struggles of middle schools citywide have meant that poorer children often are not being adequately prepared to succeed in the elite schools even before test-prep enters the discussion.
Yet many of the Asian students who have excelled on the Specialized High School Admissions Test do not come from wealthy families. The argument has been made that many black and Latino students are unaware of the exam and haven’t been encouraged to take it. But 5 ½ years into the de Blasio administration, shouldn’t the Mayor bear some of the blame for that, as well as the lack of significant improvement in the city’s middle schools?
Beyond that, how well has the scorched-earth strategy deployed by the Mayor and Chancellor Carranza done in changing testing requirements in Albany—and at a time when both houses of the Legislature and the Governor’s Mansion are under Democratic control?
His understandable frustration aside, does Mr. Jones think the admonition in the title of the editorial is misplaced?
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