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NYC parents rage over overhauled high school admissions system

Going into high school this year felt like losing the lottery.

Many high-performing New York students and their parents were devastated and outraged after receiving high school acceptance letters Wednesday night — busting the revised system that no longer awards a bonus to good grades.

“I feel like them [Department of Education] I betrayed my daughter and every child in that position,” said Greg Melli-Jones, who lives in Battery Park.

Melli-Jones’ daughter Mia was placed at Richard R. Green High School for Teaching — a school they’d never heard of before — after failing to make any of their 12 choices.

Now the father is considering leaving the Big Apple altogether over the snub.

“We either have to find a private school that we can’t afford or think about leaving town because I won’t let her go to that school,” Melli-Jones told the Post.

Beacon High School
A father told the Post the new school admissions system could force his family to leave town.
Matthew McDermott

His wife broke down in tears at the news and his eighth grader is distraught, he said.

“She asked me if everything was alright. ‘Will we find a school for me?’ And I don’t have an answer for her,” he said.

The application and selection process was a rite of passage for children, with anticipation of the big day when they are told where they will be going in the fall.

This time around, however, the process was consistently stressful due to delays and confusion over what the new process would look like at the end of former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s term.

Eighth graders had until March 1 to submit an application with up to 12 secondary schools or special programs of their choice, in order of preference.

After months of delays in developing this year’s application process, the city’s Department of Education unveiled its new admissions system just a month before the deadline — lowering the bar to be accepted into many competitive high schools and throwing out kids with a range of academic achievements inside a random hopper.

Former NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s changes to the admissions system made the process more stressful for families and DOE officials.
AP

A former DOE enrollment officer said the changes and the deadline were “the most stressful year I can remember.”

“More than ever, it’s been less of a meritocracy than any year in living memory,” said Maurice Frumkin, who now runs private NYC Admissions Solutions.

“You have families who received information at the last moment and a process that is the least based on academic records in history.”

Manhattan resident Lauren Bernstein said she’s also considering leaving town after her daughter didn’t get one of her 12 opportunities.

“I haven’t applied to any private individuals, but now I’m calling them all like crazy,” said Bernstein, who has two other kids she’s putting through college.

“It’s going to be very hard to afford two in college and one in a private school. Maybe we have to sell my apartment and get out of town.”

New York high school
The DOE unveiled its regulatory changes just a month before the deadline.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bernstein said her daughter was devastated.

“She cried all night, doesn’t want to go to her prom tomorrow, never wants to set foot in school again.”

The timing of the decision means there probably isn’t much parents can do about it, she added. Admission notices came out earlier in March prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new formula takes a student’s top grade in English, math, social studies and science in seventh and eighth grades and then assigns that grade a point value. The points are then averaged to determine which of the four lottery groups the student falls into.

Standardized test scores and attendance – used in previous years – were not a factor this time.

Proponents have said the system should increase diversity in the city’s most desirable schools, but opponents have criticized the program for belittling student achievement.

A Staten Island mother said the DOE was playing “Russian roulette with our children’s future.” Her daughter, who has an average of 97, got her fifth choice.

“I’m so sad for her. My heart is broken,” said the mother, who asked not to be named because she works as a city teacher. “She prayed for this school every night and just like that – for no logical reason – it was taken away from her.

“She was spat out by a bad algorithm,” she said. “So the kids who work so hard and get lousy lottery numbers suffer.”

The DOE did not immediately respond to a request for data on how many students received their first or top three choices.

Frumkin, the former DOE enrollment officer, said he was convinced the process was just an interim solution that “didn’t please many families at all.”

But the system opened the door for many families who felt left out of the city’s top-performing schools in years past, he said.

DOE officials have stressed that the process is not permanent and could change as early as next year.

https://nypost.com/2022/06/09/nyc-parents-fuming-over-revamped-high-school-admission-system/ NYC parents rage over overhauled high school admissions system

JACLYN DIAZ

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