Opinion: Elite High School Test ‘Not a Problem Then’ or Now

(Photo by Tamarcus Brown via Unsplash)

In commentary that appeared in Amsterdam News, Jonathan Adewumi, a 1980 graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School, commends Mayor Bill de Blasio for his efforts to diversify NYC’s specialized high schools. However, he would rather the mayor take another approach.

Adewumi writes that when he attended Brooklyn Tech, Black and Hispanic students made up 60 percent of the student body and came from gifted and talented programs across the city. (This year, Black and Hispanic students received just under 12 percent, combined, of spots offered at the school.) The students reflected the diversity of New York City – and they all passed the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT).

He emphasizes: “The test was not a problem then. The test is not the problem now.”

What has happened to our public school system from those days to now is the question that I ask and the question no one wants to answer. Yes, the city is demographically different, yes test prep companies are now doing business in many communities (including a limited few in African-American communities), but I want to know what happened to those students like myself, who thrived in those gifted and talented classes and went from elementary school to middle school to SHS. See, we had a pipeline to the SHS. That pipeline has been busted and no one wants to fix it. Why are there not G&T programs in every school in the city?

Adewumi describes these programs as “the machinery that allowed students to master the test, that provided them with the foundation required to be successful, not just for the test but for life.”

He proposes fixing the “pipeline.” Instead of getting rid of the entrance exam, what does Adewumi suggest? Read his recommendations at Amsterdam News.

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