We need to shatter the inequities in our city’s specialized high schools. While Black and Latino students make up almost 70% of NYC public school children, Black and Latino students were recently only 10% of admitted students in our specialized high schools. That’s totally unacceptable. To fix it, we need a thoughtful, comprehensive plan.

1

Our mission at the Education Equity Campaign is to increase diversity at NYC’s specialized high schools by improving educational opportunities in every community, creating more specialized high schools across the five boroughs, and ensuring that every student—regardless of race, income, or background—has equal access to high-quality, publicly funded test preparation.

With expert investment and community input, we can make substantive changes rather than surface level tweaks. Our solution focuses on five key areas of policy to drive systemic change:

Double The Number of Specialized High Schools: In a city of 8.6 million, we need more than eight high specialized high schools. Right now there are only 15,000 seats for over 360,000 high school students. That isn’t nearly enough. Let’s double the number of specialized high schools and create more opportunity for our young people to thrive. By creating two new specialized high schools in every borough more kids will finally have access to one of our city’s top high schools.

2

Improve Our Middle Schools: It’s time to get serious about middle schools and preparing our children for high school. Right now, just 15 district middle schools accounted for half the new students admitted to our city’s elite high schools – and 485 schools admitted five or fewer kids. That’s not a problem with our kids. It’s a problem with the schools.

3

Invest in Free SHSAT Prep for Every Student, Citywide: We know that test prep works. But Mayor de Blasio has never made a meaningful, public investment in test prep programs for students in black and brown communities. Today, more than 90% of NYC middle schools do not have access to publicly-funded test prep. Let’s change that by finally making test prep a right for every public school family. We also need fairer access to the test itself. Most students can only take the test on a single fall weekend. That needs to change—every student should be able to take the test on a normal school day. It’s our responsibility to ensure that every student has an opportunity to take the test and be properly prepared for test day. With deeper investment in test prep and reform to test scheduling, we can make sure that every student has a fair shot at success. 

4

Ask Every 8th Grader To Take The SHSAT: Only a small minority of Black and Latino students currently take the SHSAT, reducing the number of eligible applicants for our specialized high schools. Every student should be aware of the test and have the opportunity to attend a specialized high school. Unfortunately, many students of color that would thrive at these schools, are unaware of their existence. The SHSAT should be made available during regular school hours, rather than on two random weekends in the fall. It is the city’s responsibility to ask every student if they would like to take the test - and let them and their parents decide if they would like to opt-out.

5

A Gifted & Talented Program in Every District: We can improve diversity in all of our elite programs from a young age. Let’s make sure that every New York student has the opportunity to take Gifted and Talented entrance tests and attend a Gifted and Talented program in their neighborhood. Every child deserves access to programs to cultivate their talent.

Kirsten John Foy is a lifelong civil rights and human rights 
activist who currently serves as President and CEO of the Arc of Justice. 
Kirsten has passionately, and effectively, campaigned on behalf of greater 
education equity, gun violence prevention, and workers’ rights across the 
country for decades. His political activism started as a member of the 
Black Students’ Union at Brooklyn College, where he organized protests 
against tuition increases and a city effort to require students on welfare to work. Kirsten previously served as the Northeast Regional Director for the National Action Network, where he helped guide the activities of chapters in 12 states. Previously, Kirsten was Director of Intergovernmental and Community Affairs for then-Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. Kirsten is a product of the NYC public school system and a graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School. He is a licensed Pentecostal Minister and resides in Bedford-Stuyvesant with his wife and their three children.

PAID FOR BY EDUCATION EQUITY CAMPAIGN (EDUCATIONEQUITY.NYC)

Jinan N. O'Connor is the Vice President, Implementation and
 Professional Learning, at Turnaround for Children, and is a nationally recognized,
 New York City based expert in education policy for underserved urban communities.
 Jinan has dedicated her career to increasing education equity as a teacher,
 non-profit leader, researcher, and programmatic expert across the country.
 Jinan spent 12 years at Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID),
 a global college readiness organization where she managed AVID implementation
 in eight states, facilitated professional learning as a national trainer,
 co-wrote curriculum on culturally relevant teaching and developed partnerships
 with new schools, districts and community organizations. Jinan previously worked as a school improvement consultant for the Southern Regional Education Board, as a program director for Teach For America and began her educational journey as an elementary special education teacher. Jinan is a graduate of Spelman College and Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

Michael Lach is the Director of STEM Education and Strategic 
Initiatives at the University of Chicago. Previously, he was appointed by Secretary 
Arne Duncan to lead science and mathematics education efforts at the U. S. 
Department of Education. Michael has taught science in New York City, 
New Orleans, and Chicago public schools where he was earned National Board 
Certification, was named one of Radio Shack’s Top 100 Technology Teachers 
and was awarded Illinois Science Teacher of the Year. He was also a charter 
member of Teach for America, where he served as Director of Program Design, 
developing a portfolio based alternative-certification system that was adopted by several states. As an administrator with the Chicago Public Schools, he led the district’s instructional improvement efforts in science and mathematics in a variety of roles between 2003 and 2009, ultimately becoming Officer of Teaching and Learning overseeing curriculum and instruction in 600+ schools. He earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Carleton College, and master’s degrees from Columbia University and Northeastern Illinois University.

Nicole Brisbane has dedicated her career to advocating for high
 quality public education in every community. Nicole started her career in education
 as middle school Intensive Reading teacher in 2005. After law school, she joined
 Teach For America as a Director of District and Community Partnerships, before
 moving on to become Managing Director of New Site Development, where she
 helped lead expansion into six new regions. Most recently, Nicole led Democrats
 for Education Reform New York (DFER) and its policy and advocacy
 affiliate organizations, Education Reform Now and Education Reform Now
 Advocacy. In addition to running her own consulting practice, Nicole is a Project
 Director at the Center for Public Research and Leadership at Columbia University where she leads graduate students on a consulting project focused on improving public education. Nicole is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of the Florida State University and received her law degree from Emory Law School.

Dock Street PTA 
Crisis Action Center 
Digital Girl

Kirsten John Foy is a lifelong civil rights and human rights activist who currently serves as President and CEO of the Arc of Justice. Kirsten has passionately, and effectively, campaigned on behalf of greater education equity, gun violence prevention, and workers’ rights across the country for decades. His political activism started as a member of the Black Students’ Union at Brooklyn College, where he organized protests against tuition increases and a city effort to require students on welfare to work. Kirsten previously served as the Northeast Regional Director for the National Action Network, where he helped guide the activities of chapters in 12 states. Previously, Kirsten was Director of Intergovernmental and Community Affairs for then-Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. Kirsten is a product of the NYC public school system and a graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School. He is a licensed Pentecostal Minister and resides in Bedford-Stuyvesant with his wife and their three children.

Jinan N. O'Connor is the Vice President, Implementation and Professional Learning, at Turnaround for Children, and is a nationally recognized, New York City based expert in education policy for underserved urban communities. Jinan has dedicated her career to increasing education equity as a teacher, non-profit leader, researcher, and programmatic expert across the country. Jinan spent 12 years at Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), a global college readiness organization where she managed AVID implementation in eight states, facilitated professional learning as a national trainer, co-wrote curriculum on culturally relevant teaching and developed partnerships with new schools, districts and community organizations. Jinan previously worked as a school improvement consultant for the Southern Regional Education Board, as a program director for Teach For America and began her educational journey as an elementary special education teacher. Jinan is a graduate of Spelman College and Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

Michael Lach is the Director of STEM Education and Strategic Initiatives at the University of Chicago. Previously, he was appointed by Secretary Arne Duncan to lead science and mathematics education efforts at the U. S. Department of Education. Michael has taught science in New York City, New Orleans, and Chicago public schools where he was earned National Board Certification, was named one of Radio Shack’s Top 100 Technology Teachers and was awarded Illinois Science Teacher of the Year. He was also a charter member of Teach for America, where he served as Director of Program Design, developing a portfolio based alternative-certification system that was adopted by several states. As an administrator with the Chicago Public Schools, he led the district’s instructional improvement efforts in science and mathematics in a variety of roles between 2003 and 2009, ultimately becoming Officer of Teaching and Learning overseeing curriculum and instruction in 600+ schools. He earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Carleton College, and master’s degrees from Columbia University and Northeastern Illinois University.

Nicole Brisbane has dedicated her career to advocating for high quality public education in every community. Nicole started her career in education as middle school Intensive Reading teacher in 2005. After law school, she joined Teach For America as a Director of District and Community Partnerships, before moving on to become Managing Director of New Site Development, where she helped lead expansion into six new regions. Most recently, Nicole led Democrats for Education Reform New York (DFER) and its policy and advocacy affiliate organizations, Education Reform Now and Education Reform Now Advocacy. In addition to running her own consulting practice, Nicole is a Project Director at the Center for Public Research and Leadership at Columbia University where she leads graduate students on a consulting project focused on improving public education. Nicole is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of the Florida State University and received her law degree from Emory Law School.

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