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Bayside rallies in support of specialized exam

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Can a highly criticized test stand the test of time?

A rally was held in Bayside late last week to emphasize the importance of the SHSAT in the aftermath of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to eliminate merit-based testing for the city’s specialized high schools earlier this month.

The June 21 rally, which was held at Nathaniel Hawthorne MS 74, 61-15 Oceania St., gave those in attendance the opportunity to voice their opinions on why the SHSAT is both necessary and beneficial to high school students.

A bill to put an end to the SHSAT was introduced by state Assemblyman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn). Instead of a test, the new system Barron proposed would guarantee a spot at a specialized high school for every middle school student in the top 7 percent, as opposed to a student being admitted solely on the SHSAT test score.

For the bill to become a law, it must be approved in Albany by the Assembly, Senate and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

De Blasio’s proposal to drop the SHSAT is a response to the latest test score statistics, which reveal that only 10 percent of black or Latino students who attended public schools in New York City eventually receive offers to attend specialized high schools, even though nearly 70 percent of public high schools are made up of black or Latino students.

The percentage of black and Latino students admitted to these highly competitive schools has generally remained the same for the past decade.

In contrast, more than 60 percent of last year’s specialized high school students were Asian, even though Asian students only make up 16 percent of the population in the city’s public schools.

De Blasio’s plan to do away with the SHSAT includes a new system that would admit students by their middle school class ranking as well as their statewide standardized test scores, pending the Legislature’s approval. One change, already approved by the city, will reserve 20 percent of seats in Specialized High Schools for students of low-income families, starting in fall 2019. Potential students have an opportunity to gain entry by attending the Discovery Program, a summer school session.

“Eliminating the SHSAT is not the answer,” said political candidate David Bressler, who spoke at the rally outside MS 74. “If we do away with this test, we are lowering our country’s educational standards, while giving society the impression that test preparation and high test scores are obsolete.”

Bressler, who is challenging Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside) on the GOP line for an Assembly seat, also spoke at Sunday’s “Rally to Save the SHSAT and for Community Unity” Sunday at Queens Borough Hall, located at 120-55 Queens Blvd. The rally drew other big names such as Bob Chou, deputy assistant to the speaker of the state Assembly, Assembly Felix Ortiz, as well as longtime SHSAT advocate David Lee, vice president of the Chinese-American Citizens Alliance.

“Giving students a pass from taking the SHSAT is teaching them the wrong lesson - that they don’t need to work hard to be successful and that they are entitled to everything,” said Phil Orenstein, president of the Queens Village Republican Club, who also acts as Bressler’s campaign manager. “In reality, there is no success like failure - because failure will prepare them for life’s challenges.”

Orenstein further argued that the test is totally impartial, with no preference in regards to race or ethnicity. In order to fix the highly discussed diversity issue among specialized high schools, Orenstein suggested that more funding should go toward SHSAT test preparation.

The three-hour SHSAT, composed of more than 100 questions, includes both English and math sections. The math section includes multiple-choice questions as well as computational problems.

Specialized high schools are intended to educate students who are both academically and artistically gifted. Students who attend these schools learn from a more rigorous curriculum than students at public high schools.

In total, there are nine specialized high schools. The only specialized high school in Queens is the Queens High School for the Sciences at York College, founded in 2002.

SHSAT’s were approved by the Legislature in 1972 as the only option for a student to gain admission in an attempt to halt the efforts of intentionally diversifying these schools without merit.

Reach Steven Goodstein by e-mail at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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Reader feedback

Helton from Flushing says:
I support their efforts 100% and hope they succeed.
June 30, 11:48 am
Fred Bedell Jr from Glen Oaks says:
I didn’t have education and had to abandon my kids after my ex-wife left me. I wished I had education back then. Look at me today. Stupid and broke.
June 30, 10:14 pm
Lyn says:
Google “Emini S&P Trading Secret", it's about trading Emini S&P, you won't regret it, these guys are doing it right by me.
July 1, 10:54 pm
Stephen from mathematics says:
For the 2018 exam 5.2% of the Asian students attended but only 2% of the black students attended. Scrapping the test because thousands of black students didn't bother to show up to take the SHSAT isn't the answer.

Also note that the 20% set aside will actually decrease black student admission offers and increase Asian student admissions.

Currently black student specialized school admissions numbers puts them on the endangered students list. Setting aside 20% of the seats for low income families will drop black students admissions to zero; dropping black student numbers from endangered to extinct.

The Asian families are the poorest and they will get the Tiger Mom's/lion's share of the 20% set aside offers.

The Mayor missed the obvious human question in the equation.
What happens if Asian families move the enrollment of their kids into predominantly black schools targeted for increased admissions offers?
July 2, 6:41 am
Nonsense from Queens says:
The Asian families are the poorest and they will get the Tiger Mom's/lion's share of the 20% set aside offers.

Yet they seem to be able to afford million dollar houses.
July 2, 8:45 am
Nonsense from Queens... from Bayside says:
You are 100% spot on. The Asian families are not the poorest, and I recoil in disgust when I read that statement in the press. All you have to do is stroll around Northeast Queens and see how the gaudy, tacky McMansions - which by the way were beautiful homes to begin with before they were knocked down to make way for the hideous homes the Asians build to accommodate the 20+ people who will live in it - which go for over 1MM are owned by the same “poor Asians”. Give me an effing break. While not in total agreement with the Mayor’s thought-process regarding this proposed bill, it would be interesting to see how the Asians will take it if the bill passes. If you wish to know all the tactics and corrupt manners the Asians employ to get their kids into the great schools, speak to the crossing guards, lunchroom and parent help staff at these schools and you’ll find out what really goes on. To add insult to injury, these are the very same people who don’t bother to blend in or become part of those very communities they have their 1MM homes in, as a “poor Asian”.
July 3, 9:36 am
Stephen from mathematics says:
To the 'nonsense' duo the city's own figures put the Asians at the poorest level. The fact that rich Asians exist, and that some people don't like rich Asians, doesn't change the financial situation for the poor Asians. Asians are used as the scapegoats in this. The truth being in the 2018 SHSAT attendance numbers.

15 Latinos per thousand Latino students attended the SHSAT.
19 black students per thousand attended the test.
32 white students per thousand attended.
52 Asian students per thousand attended.
64 students of 'other backgrounds' per thousand attended.
July 9, 7:21 am
David from Auburndale says:
Just what IS it with blacks and hispanics not being able to study and take tests??

Seriously, how can y'all insist on respect when you demand freebies literally all the time??

Why don't we have affirmative action in our armed forces -- or the NBA/NFL, for that matter?

It's high time everyone recognized the DISHONESTY behind ALL calls for "racial justice"...blacks/hispanics aren't looking for a "level playing field" but UNEARNED dominance and supremacy!!
July 11, 5:50 am

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