The Department of Education wants to eliminate racial quotas at Brooklyns prestigious Mark Twain School for the Gifted and Talented. City lawyers are challenging a 1974 court order mandating that 60 percent of I.S. 239s students be white and the other 40 percent be minorities. The mandate makes it difficult for minorities to gain entrance to the specialized middle school because they must score at least 84.4 on an admissions test, while white students need to earn a mark of 77. The DOE says the court order, which was implemented to desegregate the school, is no longer necessary because Mark Twain is now racially mixed. I spoke to the chancellor, said City Councilmember Domenic Recchia. He feels that we dont need the guidance [of the court order]. Let everybody apply and let the best people in, Recchia continued. The long-standing mandate came to light last summer when Anjan Raus daughter was denied entrance to Mark Twain. She earned a score of 79. Rau, a Bay Ridge resident, sued the city last month, which he believes spurned officials to challenge the court order. Its unfortunate that we had to go through a lawsuit for them to change the rules, Rau told this paper. Even if the court order is overturned, Rau said his daughter, Nikita, may still remain at I.S. 98 Bay Academy for the Arts and Sciences, 1401 Emmons Avenue. However, a single standard for all prospective sixth-graders would make the admissions process fair, he said. It may or may not help [Nikita] at this point because we dont know how long it would take the federal court to change the court order, Rau said. But, It would be good for the community. That would be nice where everybody takes the test and if you score on the standards, you get in, said Ronald Stewart, president of the Community Education Council for District 21, which includes Mark Twain. Admission procedures for Mark Twain, located at 2401 Neptune Avenue, have long been met with controversy. Stewart said more Coney Island residents should be granted entrance to Mark Twain. About four or five years ago, I found out that [P.S.] 288 didnt get one student into Mark Twain. [P.S.] 188 got one, P.S. 90 I think got one, and [P.S.] 329 got two, Stewart said. I think this whole issue has to be revisited.
©2008 Community News Group
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