QUEENS, N.Y. - The battle over the city’s plan to overhaul the specialized high school admissions test is at a fever pitch.
And it was very visible at a standing room only public forum Thursday that spilled into the streets where some of the battle lines were being drawn along racial lines.
"It’s not fair. It’s not fair because the test does not reflect everyone’s curriculum," said one forum attendee.
"The test itself is not at fault. It’s colorblind," said another attendee.
Many Asian parents have been vocal against the mayor’s plan to diversify the city’s specialized high schools by getting rid of the admissions test and instead admit the top seven percent of students at each middle school among other reforms. Many who flooded Queens Borough Hall say they don’t want a racial fight. Most people in attendance were in support of the test.
"I think the rhetoric of calling these schools racially segregated is dangerous and divisive. I am as the son of two parents who are both from the deep south who went to deeply racially segregated schools in the deep Jim Crow south this is offensive," said one attendee.
The forum was called by State Senator John Liu who is the chair of the senate’s New York City Education Committee. He’s called the process of changing the test racist.
"This has turned into a racial issue because of the way City Hall has framed the issue to begin with," Liu said.
Liu and other legislators say there are looking input after recent numbers showed that a little more than 10 percent of offers to specialized high schools went to black and Hispanic students. Many blamed the mayor for the results.
"He failed the students. He failed the black students he failed the Hispanic student. He should prove K through eight," said one forum attendee.
"There are so many things that they need to be done before the kids get to taking the test. That they’re not doing. That’s what they need to focus on. I am in total favor of the test," said another attendee.
During the forum many of the parents who spoke said they would like to see the city create even more specialized high schools and come up with a better plan to help students get into them.