Mayor de Blasio vowed to revive his stalled project to remake admissions to the city’s elite specialized high schools on Friday, after new admissions data once again revealed dismal diversity stats for the schools.
De Blasio campaigned for mayor in 2013 on a promise to admit more black and Hispanic kids to the city’s eight specialized high schools, including Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech and Stuyvesant High School, which use a single exam as their sole admissions criteria.
Those schools enroll just 10% black and Hispanic students, despite the fact that those kids make up more than 70% of all students in city schools.
And new admissions data for 2018 released in March shows the situation isn’t changing.
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Since being elected, de Blasio has insisted he’s powerless to alter admissions to the schools, citing state law.
But when radio host Brian Lehrer asked de Blasio about changing their admissions criteria on his weekly appearance on WNYC, de Blasio said he’d talk to his lawyers about it again.
“I want to have that power, unquestionably, and so far in the view of our Law Department, it sadly is not as straightforward as that,” de Blasio said. “I will certainly go back and look again, and talk to our lawyers again, because I think this is a matter of injustice that has to be addressed.”
De Blasio has been widely criticized for failing to act on his promises to diversify the schools.
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Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams called on de Blasio Friday to conduct a thorough public review of the admissions processes for the schools, and how they might be changed.
“Black and Latino children in this city deserve nothing less than the same high-quality education as their peers, and City Hall owes them nothing less than a high-quality public review,” Adams said.
And Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. issued a statement Friday calling for an end to the use of a single test as the schools’ sole admission criteria.
“A single test should no longer decide which students have access to our best high schools,” he said.
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But de Blasio told Lehrer he’s being blocked from taking action by Albany lawmakers.
“Let me say very clearly, I will revisit it because I would love nothing more than to have a pathway to action,” de Blasio said. “I think the challenge here, and it refers to everything with our school system, is we’re still working under a state law rubric in general.”
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JILLIAN JORGENSEN, BEN CHAPMAN