Incoming NYC school chancellor vows support for Asian American community

David Banks School Chancellor

Incoming New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks has responded to frustrations voiced by the Asian American community over a previous proposal to alter current admissions policies in specialized high schools, where Asian American students predominate.

What he said: Banks, who will assume his new role next month, acknowledged the efforts and resources Asian American parents pour into their children’s education. He assured the community of his support in a recent interview with the New York Post.

  • “They have made a priority of educational pathways as their route to success and they have thrown everything they have into that,” Banks told the outlet. “I salute that and I support that. I’m not working against them at all. I will do everything I can to be as supportive to the Asian community as I possibly can.”
  • The city’s Asian American parents have been at odds with current Chancellor Richard Carranza, who seeks to end the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) with outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio. Under their 2018 proposal, Asian American students – who make up the majority of these specialized schools – are estimated to lose about half their seats, according to The New York Times.
  • Banks expressed sympathy for Asian American parents who see the plan as an attempt to “obstruct … their American Dream.” He stressed that he understands them but insists “there are ways to have a win-win all the way around.”
  • “I don’t think anyone should have to study for five hours a day from the time that they are 5 years old to prepare for one day that you’re going to take an exam to get in,” Banks told the Post, calling the idea “outrageous.” “I would love to help the Asian community to access specialized schools without having to spend every nickel and dime that they raise to prepare their children for that.”
  • The new education chief said he and Mayor-Elect Eric Adams are unlikely to interfere with existing admissions policies to specialized high schools. Instead, they will seek to create new schools with different admissions criteria, “so everything doesn’t have to be cut from the same mold.”

The big picture: The proposed elimination of the city’s SHSAT reflects a national trend toward racial equity in education. Asian American students, who traditionally excel in standardized admissions tests, are expected to lose their highly-coveted spots to Black and Hispanic applicants, who are currently underrepresented in elite institutions.

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  • Since 2014, Harvard University has been embroiled in a legal battle in which its admissions process is accused of deliberately discriminating against Asian American applicants as a matter of affirmative action. The Biden administration recently asked the Supreme Court to reject the case.
  • Harvard welcomed the administration’s support. Meanwhile, plaintiff Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) said it “regrettably advocates for the continuation of racial classifications and preferences in college admissions.”

Featured Image via CBS New York

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