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Photo by Alejandra O'Connell-Domenech
School Chancellor Carranza speaks at a town hall.

School Chancellor Richard Carranza publicly pressed state lawmakers Tuesday night to scrap a section of education law requiring the Specialized High School Admissions Test.

“All I need is for the legislature to get out of the way, repeal that law and then hold me accountable for the quality of those schools, which I thought I had since I am the chancellor,” Carranza said during a Tuesday night town hall meeting at M.S. 113 Richard R. Green in the Bronx.

Last year, the mayor announced plans to phase out the test and change admission requirements for the city’s eight specialized high schools amid calls for more diversity. Although black and Latino students make up 70 percent of the student body, they make up just over 10 percent of students in specialized high schools. And those numbers are at risk of decreasing.

In 2019, Stuyvesant High School only accepted seven black students to their incoming class of 895. The year prior, the school admitted 10 black students, and the year before that, 13.

Carranza’s opposition to the exam at the town hall comes as a stark contrast to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s, who stated that he was open to the idea of keeping the SHSAT in September after a year of protests from test supporters.

The proposed change would allow for the top 7 percent of students at every middle school a chance to attend a specialized high school. Each student’s ranking would be base off of a composite score based on student grades, state test scores and attendance compared to other students in their school. Something that Carranza said would diversify the schools overnight.

Assemblyman Charles Barron sponsored a bill in support of the mayor’s plan. He told Chalkbeat that he and other lawmakers will try to repeal the law and take the state out of the New York City education system. Barron’s bill would do away with the SHSAT failed during last legislative session.

The yearlong protests came from test supporters, including Asian-American activist groups and parents who argue that the admission change neglects Asian-American students, and deep-pocketed coalitions like the Education Equity Campaign led by Brooklyn Tech graduate and minister Kirsten John Foy.

In the end, Carranza remains opposed to the SHSAT, but is willing to take recommendations on possible alternatives.

“So, until I get a better proposal, I am going to keep pushing this proposal,” Carranza said.

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