Bill to Change NYC Specialized High School Admissions Draws Concerns

By David Li,

New York City, June 10, 2014, — There are nine specialized high schools in New York City. They were established to serve the needs of academically and artistically gifted students by Department of Education of the city.

N.Y. Senate bill S7738 made front page news on today’s World Journal, one of the largest Chinese daily newspapers in North America. The following is a picture of the front page story.

Some Asian American parents were concerned that passage of S7738 would significantly reduce the number of Asian American students admitted to the specialized high schools. They would like N.Y. Senate to hold public hearings and vigorous debates on this bill before sending it onto the Senate floor for a vote.

The nine specialized high schools are Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Latin School, Brooklyn Technical High School, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College, High School of American Studies at Lehman College, Queens High School for the Sciences at York College, Staten Island Technical High School, Stuyvesant High School. The Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) examination is required for admission to all the schools except LaGuardia.

S7738 was introduced by State Senators Simcha Felder and Adriano Espaillat. More details about the bill is available at: The bill would remove SHSAT as the primary admission standard to increase diversity of student body at the specialized high schools.

The following is a package against S7738 circulated in a WeChat group of Asian American activists.

Campaign Against S7738

The Specialized High Schools of New York City have noticeably been the elite select and highly competitive public schools. At this point, there is a clear under-representation of certain ethnic minorities students. Because of this worsening under-representation and the single test admissions standards adopted since early 1970s by the schools in question, some New York State legislators, other politicians and some education groups are trying to remedy this perceived imbalance or lack of diversity, by pushing through legislation addressing the issue. Chinese and other Asian American communities, among others, are concerned about the approach or methods these legislations have adopted or new bias they may fester. As you are reading this news now, New York Senate is deliberating whether it will put S7738 for a whole senate vote. We studied the bill and we do not like what we saw. We are concerned about its intended or unintended consequences for our children and for the future of these competitive schools. And we are now campaigning to stop it or other like-minded SCA5-like bills in New York State legislature. Please join our campaign.

1) Contact Info for New York State Senate Co-Leaders
Senator Dean Skelos
(518) 455-3171
[email protected]
Legislative Office Building, Room 909
Albany, NY 12247
Senator Jeffery Klein
(518) 455-3595
[email protected]
Legislative Office Building, Room 913
Albany, NY 12247

2) Talking points for opposing S7738

a. Asian American communities are not or insufficiently informed or consulted of this pending legislation (S7738); we are in the total dark and did not have a chance to participate in the process AT ALL;
b. For such an significant, high-impact bill, there is NO sufficient public outreach and public hearing;
c. The bill is full of uncertainty or black hole, when it leaves the legislative details to New York City authorities.
We urge you not to send this rushed bill for a floor vote.

3) Letter to New York State Senators

Dear New York State Senators,

We are surprised and concerned to hear that S7738 is being rushed through the state Senate in the winding days of this legislative session. Little is known about this pending bill which is going to significantly and perhaps negatively impact and affect our Asian American communities. For a Senate bill of this import and impact, there is, alarmingly, no public hearing nor serious outreach to the affected communities. Our communities are thus not consulted nor had a chance to participate. As stakeholders for the consequences of this proposed bill, we, with grave concern, request that you refrain from a vote on the bill on the Senate floor, before you have a chance to hear from the affected communities and give the shareholding communities a full-fledged opportunity to participate in this democratic process.

For the future legislative sessions, we promise and pledge to work closely with the state Senate to find a new consensus and achieve an equitable and fair admissions procedures for New York City Specialized High Schools.

Sincerely yours,

N.Y. resident signature