Chart: Manhattan Advantage in Public High School Admissions

Monday, March 10, 2014 - 04:00 AM

Michael Krutyansky was hardly alone last year in his struggle to land a seat in an academically screened high school in Manhattan. It worked out for him only because his mother successfully appealed and got him into Millennium High School.

It is rare for students outside of District 2 to be matched with one of the six competitive schools that give priority to students in the district that includes parts of lower Manhattan and the Upper East Side.

Data obtained by WNYC shows more than 78 percent of the students offered admissions to these six schools last year came from District 2 schools. At Baruch College Campus High School and the New York City Lab School, nearly 95 percent of the kids attended District 2 middle schools (the Lab School also gives priority to its own 8th graders).

Yet, more than 7,400 students applied in 2013 for 111 ninth-grade seats at Baruch, while nearly 3,500 applied for 136 freshman seats at the Lab School.

Families outside of District 2 said they continue to apply because they aren’t happy with their local options. Many believe the city should end the priority system and let in more students from other districts. But parent leaders in District 2 noted that their district is especially large and that it created these competitive schools for its own students. They say the solution is to create more screened schools in other districts.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg focused on creating hundreds of new schools during his administration to develop more choices for parents. He never touched the District 2 priority schools. When asked if he would take a different approach, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he has not yet come up with a policy.

"We need more high-quality high schools," he said. "And that can take lots of different forms. And we need them all over the city. And so that's the way I start the discussion. On the question of zoned specific and all, I need to come back to you with a more developed policy."

De Blasio's daughter, Chiara, commuted from Park Slope to Beacon High School, a screened school on the Upper West Side open to students throughout the city.

In contrast, the mayor has taken a clear position on the selective high schools, which include Stuyvesant and Brooklyn Tech (where his son, Dante, attends). He believes these schools should no longer rely on a single test to determine admission because their populations do not reflect the diversity of the city’s public schools. 

State legislation would be needed to change that admissions policy at Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech and Bronx High School of Science. But the city has the authority to eliminate or supplement the specialized high school admissions test for the five newer specialized high schools, which include the Brooklyn Latin School and the High School of American Studies at Lehman College.

For the families who still want to apply to a district-priority high schools in District 2, the N.Y.C. Museum School may be a good bet: only 23.5 percent of students offered seats last year came from District 2.


Comments [3]

LY from NYC

Response to publicftw --

The reason this isn't fair is that selective high schools in other districts do not prioritize those students who live within the district. Everywhere else, except D2, high schools are open to applicants from *anywhere* in NYC. New York City high schools are no longer neighborhood schools.

Therefore, D2 students have an advantage -- they are prioritized for D2 high schools, and they can also apply to academically screened high schools in other districts. So D2 students, who are, on average, from much wealthier families than most of the rest of the city, have an unfair advantage in seeing admission to an elite high school

Mar. 24 2014 09:50 PM

Hi Coulter/Beth,

It would be interesting to follow-up or a separate story on Deblasio's comment on D2 schools regarding D2 zones and any policy changes. Also, what are the plans to improve middle schools? and How does the Mayor plan to increase diversity at each and every school?


Mar. 10 2014 12:49 PM
publicftw from NYC

Shouldn't the people who live in District 2 have priority for District 2 schools? Is there a reason I'm not understanding that people live in a neighborhood shouldn't get priority for neighborhood amenities? Isn't the solution for other districts to invest in opening good schools, to attract more families to their area? I think it was Geoffrey Canada who said something like: good neighborhoods don't make good schools; good schools make good neighborhoods. PErsonally I think a better idea than knocking down the district system would be more like an 90/10, where 10% of seats in these schools would be saved for kids who come from really impoverished areas or have IEPs.

Mar. 10 2014 09:50 AM

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