Aside from his effort to overhaul specialized school admissions, Mr. de Blasio has not made school integration of the roughly 1,800 schools he does control a top priority during his two terms as mayor. Disagreements between the mayor and Richard A. Carranza, the former schools chancellor, about how aggressively to pursue desegregation policies helped prompt Mr. Carranza’s resignation earlier this year.
The city’s new chancellor, Meisha Porter, called on the state to eliminate the exam in a statement Thursday. “I know from my 21 years as an educator that far more students could thrive in our specialized high schools, if only given the chance,” she said. “Instead, the continued use of the Specialized High School Admissions Test will produce the same unacceptable results over and over again.”
Brooklyn Tech and the Brooklyn Latin School, both specialized high schools, tend to enroll slightly higher numbers of Black and Latino students than the other six schools, and this year was no exception. Brooklyn Tech made offers to 76 Latino students and 64 Black students, out of a total freshman class of 1,607, by far the largest of any specialized school.
Mr. de Blasio’s push to get rid of the test failed in Albany in 2018, but the pandemic ramped up pressure on the mayor to take some action on desegregation before he leaves office at the end of the year.
Late last year, he announced sweeping changes to how hundreds of academically selective middle and high schools admit students. Standardized testing data and grading information was not available during the pandemic, which made it impossible for many schools to sort through students as they usually do.
City Hall controls admissions to all schools in New York City except for three of the specialized high schools, which are controlled by Albany. Changes to admissions at selective middle and high schools, along with gifted and talented programs for elementary school students, would do much more to actually desegregate the school system than eliminating the specialized school admissions exam, experts have said.
But the paltry numbers of Black and Latino students at places like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science, considered the crown jewels of the system, have become a potent symbol of the obstacles many city students face in trying to access top-quality schools.