Recently released information by New York City Public Schools brings to light the persisting issues in the city’s pre-kindergarten programs and again shows the failure of public schools to properly educate and prepare middle school students for the specialized high schools exam, resulting in very few Black and Hispanic students admitted. The data, released on Thursday, June 1st, supports some assertions of mismanagement of the pre-K program, a flagship initiative of the former administration.
Schools Chancellor David Banks argues that the previous administration under Bill de Blasio failed to balance supply and demand, leading to an excess of up to 30,000 unused seats in the pre-K and 3-K programs. He alleges this happened despite expansion plans for the program hinging on finite stimulus funds.
In November 2022, Chancellor Banks implied that the primary objective of the de Blasio administration was to boast about the total number of seats, disregarding the critical alignment of resources with requirements.
The present administration, led by Mayor Eric Adams, suggests that instead of further enlarging the program, effective distribution of existing seats could better serve preschoolers. Adams has cut over half a billion dollars from the expansion budget of the program in his proposed budget.
However, this decision has faced opposition from certain parents and City Council members, highlighting that the demand far outweighs the available seats in many localities.
Admissions to the city’s renowned high schools, which hinge on a merit based standardized admission test, showed racial demographics consistent with past years.
While the Adams administration has reinstated selective admission criteria for some middle schools post-pandemic, only 59 schools have chosen to screen applicants this year, a significant drop from the 196 in 2020.
The administration has also revised admission protocols for selective high schools like Beacon and Townsend Harris, focusing more on student grades rather than a combination of test scores, interviews, and attendance. However, the demographics of admitted students have remained largely unchanged due to this modification.
The data released on Thursday did not include figures for the city’s Gifted & Talented programs or a racial breakdown of admitted students. The current administration, reversing the previous decision to terminate the program, now relies on teacher nominations instead of standardized testing for seat allotments.