Regular readers of New York School Talk know how important Mayor Bill de Blasio’s approval is to this NYC mom.
Hizzoner was most displeased with the high-school choices I made for my two older sons. I have only my daughter left. This is my last chance to get it right!
When trying to figure out how I could make Mayor de Blasio happy with the high-school I send my daughter to this fall, I thought the obvious solution would be to follow in his footsteps, to do as he did (not as he says).
Dante de Blasio went to Brooklyn Tech, a Specialized High School. But, when I looked it up, I learned that Brooklyn Tech was 61% Asian. And schools that are majority Asian, according to Mayor de Blasio, are bad.
Why are they bad?
Well, because students cheat to get into them by studying for the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT). This gives them an advantage over students who didn’t study, and that’s unfair. (When asked whether his own son cheated in this manner to get into Brooklyn Tech, the proud papa… couldn’t remember.)
So no Specialized High School for us.
Chiara de Blasio went to Beacon High School. But when I looked it up, I learned that Beacon High School was majority white (44%) and Asian (10%).
And in a school district like NYC, where the student body is 40.6% Hispanic, 25.5% Black, 16.2% Asian and 15.1% white, schools that are majority white and Asian are deemed not racially representative. (On the other hand, the Department of Education defines racially representative schools as those that enroll between 50 percent and 90 percent black and Hispanic students.)
So no Beacon High School for us.
We thought we’d cracked the code when we identified a school that was 37% Hispanic, 29% white, 18% Black, 9% Asian, and 6% Other (my daughter is a Jewish African-American).
But, oh, no! That school was a screened school!
And now that his own daughter has graduated from the screened Beacon (7,784 students applied this year for only 535 seats; admissions was based on students’ original work and essays explaining why their values lined up with the school’s mission statement, an impartial metric if there ever was one!), Mayor de Blasio agrees with his former Chancellor that school screens are immoral and, frankly, he doesn’t understand why any parent would ever want to send their child to one.
Another school on our list, this one 53% Hispanic, 20% Asian, and 19% Black, as well as 80% Free/Reduced Price Lunch (for those playing along at home, Beacon is currently only 28% FRL, though their stated goal is to one day hit 50%), proved even worse. Not only was it screened, but when the DOE went out of their way to do the school a favor and secretly get rid of the screening process so they wouldn’t ignorantly continue down their immoral path, the ungrateful (albeit racially representative) wretches actually revolted and had the nerve to claim they like their school the way it is!
Finally, we applied to a school that was 74% Black, 22% Hispanic, 1% white, 0% Asian, and 70% FRL. They accepted strictly by lottery, no screening of any kind. That should do the trick, right?
Alas, still no. That school was a public charter school. And Mayor de Blasio is not a fan. Some charter schools educate poor and minority students that the DOE claims can’t be educated until poverty is eradicated in America. So, obviously, they must be cheating, as well.
For those still uncertain, I am being sarcastic. (Though all of the above is true, both the schools I applied my daughter to, and Mayor de Blasio’s official stance on them.)
I have three kids. They are extremely different.
My oldest likes learning and likes school. He attended a Specialized High School which was a good fit for him. He got good grades, participated in multiple extracurricular activities, made some wonderful friends he is still in touch with today, and went off to college.
My middle child loves learning and hates school. He attended a Specialized High School where he got good grades and made some wonderful friends. But he also wanted to learn more and faster than the school was offering. So he left in Junior year to homeschool himself.
My daughter likes school and is more or less OK with learning, as long as it doesn’t get too much in the way of her extracurricular activities and socializing.
She will be attending one of the schools I described above. It is the school that is the best fit for her.
It is a school that I picked without giving a damn what Mayor de Blasio (or the School Chancellor, or a teen advocacy group proposing impossible numbers, or people on Facebook, or friends, family and neighbors) might think of my choices of my child.
I strongly recommend that everyone reading this do the same.
I realize that currently isn’t possible in New York City.
I know that many families were waitlisted for the traditional public and charter schools of their choice.
This is due both to NYC’s very complicated high school ranking methodology, and the fact that there simply aren’t enough charter schools for all who want one.
There is a way to fix this. We could give the families who want screened schools, screened schools. We could give the families who want unscreened schools, unscreened schools. We could give the families who want charter schools, charter schools. Heck, we could even give an SHSAT seat to every child that wants one!
But that would require a school system that responds to what families want, and not to what those in power insist they should want.
We’ll be voting for a new Mayor come June 22. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s only the primary. But everyone pretty much knows the Democratic candidate who wins in June will also be the one who wins in November.)
This Mayoral candidate will appoint the new School Chancellor. (Unlike de Blasio, they might even let them get a word in edgewise, rather than merely using them as a tool to test out their most unpopular ideas, then leaving them to twist in the wind.)
Keep that in mind when you cast your ballot.
#VoteLocal. Vote so your child has a choice. Vote so that other people’s children have choices. Vote so that all of NYC has a choice. A choice they’re allowed to make, no matter what anybody else thinks.