Elite High Schools Now Within Latinos’ Reach
A new Department of Education program offers academic support to help low-income students gain admission to the city’s top public high schools, and in the process increase diversity at the schools, El Diario La Prensa reported. The article was translated from Spanish.
The deadline for submitting applications to the city’s nine specialized high schools, an elite group of schools that until now Latinos have had limited access to, is fast approaching on Oct. 10.
In order to combat the lack of diversity, which also affects African Americans, the Department of Education (DOE) started the DREAM Institute, a 22-month long extracurricular program geared toward low-income students.
Over the next two months, the DOE will recruit the first 2,500 sixth graders that will be admitted into the initiative, of which 47% will be African-American and Latino. Some 750 spots will be for Hispanics.
According to Dorita Gibson, DOE’s Deputy Chancellor for Equity and Access, the department hopes to eventually guarantee a total of 3,000 spots. However, the DOE still hasn’t approved the program’s budget, which comes from a combination of private donations and state funding. Gibson did not reveal the cost of the program.
Groups like the New York Civil Liberties Union assert that low enrollment rates for African-American and Latino students at these high schools points to evidence of racial bias. The High School for Mathematics, Sciences, and Engineering is among the most diverse of the city’s specialized high schools, with a Latino population of 21.2%. At the prestigious Stuyvesant High School, only 79 of the 3,297 students are Hispanic.
The DOE maintains that this discrepancy results from a lack of preparation and low academic performance of students from disadvantaged communities.
“DREAM doesn’t guarantee students a spot in the specialized high schools,” Gibson said about the 22-month long initiative, which begins in sixth grade and ends in eighth. “The goal is to prepare them so that they do well on the entrance exams and will be able to compete when they apply, and so they can continue to do well once they become students at a specialized high school.”
Gibson explained in an email that the program will operate at 18 locations, but the DOE hopes to add another two branches during this same period.
“Throughout middle school, these students receive extra academic support in areas like algebra, geometry, reading comprehension and logical reasoning,” said Gibson. “They also participate in workshops on time management and study habits, which will help them to complete more difficult assignments during high school, and ultimately in college.”
Students will be able to apply over the next two months. They must fill out an application and submit it to their schools. Gibson said that during the final selection phase, students will be chosen at random.