Carranzas deputy calls decisions on school admissions criteria political

A top deputy of schools Chancellor Richard Carranza stunned parents last week when she said decisions on admission criteria for the citys top middle and high schools are political.


Anything thats as high stakes and important as and political, to be honest as admissions policy is going to have to be something thats cleared by the city, said Adrienne Austin, deputy chancellor for community empowerment, partnerships and communications.


Austin made the startling comment after Manhattan dad Leonard Silverman asked about still-unknown Department of Education plans to give the SHSAT the entry exam for eight specialized high schools plus Gifted & Talented testing, and admission rules for kids applying to middle and high schools.


I know parents want to know about admissions. I know parents want to know about grading policy. I want to know about grading policy and admissions, Austin said. I dont have that information yet.


Austin spoke Thursday at a Zoom meeting of the Chancellors Parent Advisory Committee, a citywide panel of 38 parent representatives.


Silverman, of Manhattans District 2, was taken aback by Austins honesty.


Did she actually say what I think she said? he wondered after her comment.


I think it shows theres more going on behind the scenes than meets the eye. Its not just educational issues, Silverman said.


He added, I dont think issues like these should be political. Parents are caught in the crossfire. Parents want to know whats going to happen next year, and if politics are delaying the process, its disconcerting.


Yiatin Chu, co-president of PLACE NYC, a parent group that supports competitive admissions, called Austins comments despicable.


For a top DOE leader to say that these decisions are political tells you that our educators have become politicians, she said. And theyre seizing on our health and education crisis to further their political agenda.


Mayor de Blasio and Carranza have tried unsuccessfully to get rid of the SHSAT, the sole entry criteria, required by state law, for Stuyvesant, Bronx HS of Science, and Brooklyn Tech. Five other high schools use the exam, which Carranza called racist.


Carranza also opposes the widespread practice of screening students for admission at hundreds of middle and high schools based on grades, state test scores, attendance and other measures, saying it results in racial segregation.


Despite demands by advocacy groups such as Teens Take Charge, Carranza has not yet made changes, but has suggested the pandemic can lead to dropping such criteria.


Never waste a good crisis to transform a system, he told principals in May. We see this as an opportunity to finally push and move and be very strategic in a very aggressive way what we know is the equity agenda for our kids.


Manhattan City Councilman Keith Powers, who has introduced a resolution asking the state to repeal Hecht-Calendra, the law requiring the SHSAT, interprets Austins use of the word political as a reference to the controversy swirling around admission issues,


History has shown that these discussions have lots of stake holders who feel very strongly, Powers said.But parents deserve to know what those policies are going to be so they can start the process of applying to schools and planning for where their children will go.


The councilman added, Ultimately, this is going to wind up at the mayors discretion.


Austin declined to explain her remark.


Admissions processes deeply impact each students education, and we are always on the side of equity and increasing access and opportunity, DOE spokeswoman Katie OHanlon said.


Our decisions are driven by the best interest of our students, which is why we have publicly opposed SHSAT and havent added screened schools. We have engaged families citywide on admissions, and will share updates soon.


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Publisher: New York Post

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