Sen. Avella’s SHSAT Alternate Solution

Sep 6, 2018 by

State Senator Tony Avella is pushing a common-sense proposal that would not ensure, but would at least help achieve a more balanced and equitable racial distribution of students in certain specialized high schools such as Stuyvesant. These are elite intellectual bastions are arguably marred by elitism reflected in its restrictive admissions criterion.

Acceptance to these schools is based entirely on a single exam, the SHSAT, which the mayor and chancellor want eliminated and replaced. Doing so will require legislative action in Albany and is not a “done deal.”

Only 9 percent of the students at these prestigious schools are non-Asian and non-White. Is this a benign statistic or does it imply or necessitate collateral segregation?  Certainly it is an intolerable status- quo.and the lop-sided imbalance not merely suggests but proves it is irreconcilably flawed.
But should any correction be allowed to be at the expense of students from well-represented groups who are guilty of nothing but obediently acing standards, (even if those standards were ill-conceived or even tainted) that were imposed on them by the adults who make the rules, decisions and set policy?
For being caught in the middle, need they be sacrificed?
Instead of scrapping the test and replacing it with measurement tools that are more culturally-sensitive or demographically-based ( a concept that some many people of all communities might find insulting), Avella advocates an injection of $10 million in the State budget to be used to provide tutoring and test-preparation services for all students, regardless of their financial profile.

Research has shown the positive correlation between participation in these learning centers and performance on exams such as the SHSAT.   They are pivotal to readying students for advanced placement, but they are expensive, and are currently available only to those who can afford to make it a priority, even if this freedom is a boon from their profiting from an underground economy.
Races do not vary in the value they place on education.

Avella’s “Dream Program” envisages a level-playing field for all aspiring specialized high school students. He knows that Blacks and Hispanics can flourish just as impressively as Whites and Asians in a color-blind competition.  The DeBlasio/Carranza plan is, some would claim. condescending and patronizing.
Goals can be reached without quotas.  Common ground can be achieved without schisms and damage to human rights. Integrity of outcomes can be advanced without inflexibly clinging to past regulations, even if they produced an admirable product.  Consider Fedefarl Judge Garaufis’s rulings on Fire Department hiring. Nobody alleges that the delivery of quality service has been compromised by his determinations that some called exclusionary and inflammatory.

Did Senator McCain’s military record mirror his ranking near the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy? Not at all. Just the opposite.So it follows that some “standards”, traditionally regarded as sacrosanct, are in fact arbitrary and irrelevant. What does a high score on the SHSAT mean exactly?  Exactly a high score, nothing more or less.
Senator Avella’s plan is thoughtful and fair.  His opponent in the Senatorial primary, John Liu just as fervently believes in genuine equal opportunity for all groups.
Ron Isaac

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