Monday, December 29, 2014

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City Schools Ranked As State's Best May Serve Only Selective Pool Of Students

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Though Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his administration fanned out around the city Monday to visit almost two dozen public school that dominated the list of the state's best, the story may not be as simple or successful as it appears. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says there's only one way to look at this story.

"In '01, zero out of the 25 best schools in the state were in New York City," Bloomberg said. "Today, 22 out of the 25. I don't know how you could write anything other than, 'It is just amazing, and we should say thank you to the people that made that possible.'"

Officials in the Bloomberg administration visited all 22 of those schools on Monday, with the mayor stopping by classrooms at the Talented and Gifted School for Young Scholars.

"Today, parents in New York City have the opportunity to choose from the best schools in the state," Bloomberg said. "You only need to look at our top 22 schools to see that."

But if one looks closely at that list, it is apparent that most parents actually have the opportunity to choose very few of those schools.

At 16 of the 22, the schools do the choosing, in most cases selecting students who score best on tests.

"Kids with special needs, English language learners, students who are in the lowest income don't tend to get into these schools at the same rates as other kids," said Kim Sweet from Advocates for Children of NY. "And, you know, when you talk about gifted and talented programs, which a lot of these schools are, kids are actively prepping for these programs."

Of the six top schools that don't screen students, three served only kindergarten through third grade last year.

In addition, two of the other schools are in the city's wealthiest neighborhoods.

At P.S. 199 on the Upper West Side, nearly 70 percent of students are white, and less than 10 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch based on their family's income.

Citywide, more than 80 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, and just 15 percent are white.

While there are more city schools among the state's highest performing, there are also more schools where almost every student comes from poverty.

Last year, NY1 found that the number of schools with 97% or more of students qualifying for free lunch had almost tripled in three years. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP