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theschoolboards
04-05-2011, 10:06 AM
This from the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michele-somerville/8000-nyc-high-school-stud_b_844022.html) by Michele Somerville:
I wasn't surprised to learn on Friday morning (the day after students received their letters) that the NYC DOE (New York City Department of Education) had failed to match more than 8,000 New York City students with appropriate schools. And it is not students but the DOE who failed in this.

As a former NYC teacher and parent of three adolescent students (two of whom attend NYC DOE schools) who has presided over a NYC DOE high school application process in recent years, I can hardly find the widespread disappointment of 8000 children who are currently without high school placements surprising.

In the NYC DOE, the students are too often afterthoughts. The deck is stacked in the favor of the educrats.

The matching process for eighth graders seeking places in NYC high schools is cloaked in secrecy. We are told that children are placed in schools by means of algorithms and computers at the mysterious OSE (Office of Student Enrollment).

"Top schools" have first dibs on all applicants because not only do the strongest students choose "top schools," but these "top schools" also recommend that students hoping for seats in them list them first (and second). Therefore, applicants with realistic chances of being admitted to these "top schools" -- as well as those gambling on long shot acceptances -- all put the same handful of schools at the top of their lists. How fair is it, really, that easily more than 10,000 students might be encouraged to squander their best shots at a few schools that can only accept 300 or 400? And isn't there something sinister about asking 13-year-old children to gamble in this way?

The order of preferences on these lists should be blind. This would make it more difficult for the OSE computers and more difficult for Brahmin DOE educrats to take the "articulation" money and run -- but it would be fairer to students.

Specialized high schools have separate admissions processes. Stuyvestant (considered by some to be the best school in NYC) for example, uses the lone criterion of one's score on the SHSAT (Specialized High School Admissions Test) to select students. An unfortunate consequence of this is that principals and guidance departments seeking the cachet of Stuy placements now direct families who can afford them to rigorous test preparation programs. Obviously this ups the ante, promotes inequality, and widens the educational divide between the "haves" and the "have-nots." Overemphasis on standardized test performance is bad for learning; in addition, schools that admit students on the basis of testing alone tend to lack racial, cultural and economic diversity.

One can be sure that whenever the children of white lawyers and teachers are scrambling, planning appeals and revisiting options that looked unseemly and untenable a week earlier, that things aren't looking good for eighth-graders living in poor sections of the city.

The high school admission process is emblematic of all that is wrong with the DOE; it is fruit of the poised tree which, by design, is subtlely racist, embraces a pedagogically lazy and naive view of the value of standardized tests, rewards mediocrity, is organized to suit the needs of computers and educational toadies, and offers those who already have the most -- the best chance to win the most.

read more>> (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michele-somerville/8000-nyc-high-school-stud_b_844022.html)