Giving Compass' Take:

• Mayor Bill de Blasio’s has a plan to integrate New York City’s elite specialized high schools, but his proposals are not universally possible and it remains to be seen if he can execute his plan.

• How can philanthropy support desegregation? What do disadvantaged students need to thrive at demanding schools? 

• Learn about the segregation in New York City’s top high schools.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious plan to fully integrate New York City’s elite specialized high schools may turn out to be a milestone of social justice and educational equality, but overthrowing the current regime won’t be easy.

At a press conference on June 3rd, the mayor said “the stars have aligned” behind his proposal to discontinue using the test that by law has been the sole criterion for admission to the schools. He would replace it with grades, state test scores, and other measures, and then select the top performers from every middle school.

But alumni groups hit back on June 4th, blasting the mayor’s effort to quickly push a bill through the Assembly without public comment, while organizations representing Chinese immigrants — whose children make up a significant proportion of the student population at the specialized schools — called the proposal “racist” and promised to fight against it.

It’s easy to see why the mayor is confident in his timing; cultural winds are gathered at his back. School desegregation has emerged as a central concern, and he has bet that its proponents, while unhappy with what they saw as a tepid plan to diversify city schools last year, will energize around the new cause.

The use of standardized exams as a measure of academic ability has lost luster as well. Heavy testing loads in state accountability systems were challenged in New York and elsewhere. The list of colleges that no longer require the SAT or ACT continues to grow (most top-tier schools still require them). Research shows that even a good test provides a limited picture of a student’s gifts and potential.

In all, black and Hispanic students make up 10 percent of the enrollment in specialized schools even though they represent 70 percent of city students.

Read the full article about integrate New York City’s specialized high schools by David Cantor at The 74.