New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Petition Calling on the City to Better Prepare Students For the Specialized High School Admissions Test as Part of a Universal After school Mandate

New York City Schools are more segregated today then they were when in 1954 when Brown v. Board of Education was decided. Our Specialized High Schools have seen a drop in enrollment by black and Latino students by as much as 27% since de Blasio became Mayor. Despite this drop, 44% to 66% of students at the Specialized High Schools are Title I, with a majority coming from homes where English is not the primary language.

Earlier this year, I advocated for the Department of Education to expand the Discovery program to allow low-income students of color who narrowly miss the exam score to catch up with summer enrichment programming. The Discovery program was available when I went to a Specialized High School it shouldn't have stopped, and bringing it back took far too long. The  Department of Education announced an expansion to all specialized High Schools in response to my questions at a hearing of the Education Committee on March 23rd of this year. 

I oppose replacing objective criteria like this exam with subjective measures that would further erode any notion of a meritocracy, let alone, anything that would make the Specialized High Schools a part of a citywide process that is broken and that leaves countless students out of the schools they apply to without any objective measures, essentially leaving them trapped in failing high schools.

Prior to eliminating the sole objective criteria, the City must:

  • Seat every middle school student for a practice exam followed by the actual exam during school hours; and
  • Provide free preparation for the examination as part of a Universal After School mandate;

Rather than target Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Tech, I would urge the Mayor to accept my recommendation since I was elected to expand Gifted and Talented programs with new schools throughout the city to meet the need. The Mayor could even lead by example offer seat in 5 of the 8 Specialized High Schools without state approval, anything else is just rhetoric.

I have made my objections known over the past four years, including on CBS in response to the Mayor's announcement. I wholeheartedly support and endorse the position of the Daily News Editorial Board and honestly couldn't have said it better myself.

Please join me, other elected officials, the New York Post, Daily News, other alumni, parents, and students throughout our city by sign and circulate our petition, 


Petition Signature

54 signatures