As the race between Incumbent Assembly Member Ari Espinal and Catalina Cruz moves into the back stretch towards the State Democratic Primary, the winner will have to deal with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent announcement of his intentions to change the admissions process for the city’s eight elite academic high schools, also known as Specialized High Schools (SHS).
Under De Blasio’s plan, which would need Albany’s approval for four of the schools, the single-admission test would be eliminated over the course of three years. Once the test is eliminated, the seats in the SHS would go to the top performers at each New York City middle school.
Thus, QCP asked the candidates the following question:
Do you agree with the Mayor de Blasio‘s plan to change the admissions procedures from one single test and to eliminate the testing requirement admission over three years? Additionally, what other specific changes would you like to see to the process?
Cruz: “Any change to high school admissions procedures must begin with community engagement. I am running for the Assembly to give our community a voice in government. For too long immigrant and working class communities have been ignored and policies have been dictated from the top-down. I am determined to change that. My campaign is about grassroots government from the bottom-up that will activate the community and stakeholders in decision-making. Albany isn’t working for the average New Yorker which was illustrated in the way some attempted to change this policy. A better process will produce a better result.”
Espinal: “Our specialized schools must reflect the diversity of our city, and but Mayor de Blasio’s plan is not the way to do it. When the future of millions of children hang in the balance, all communities must have a seat at the table. While I do not support eliminating the test, I believe the test should not be the sole determining factor for admission. Along with securing additional funding for all our public schools, I will advocate for expanded access to test prep classes so that all students have a chance to be ready for the test.
“We must come together to find a solution that works for all communities so that our admission process supports diversity and gives greater opportunity for all New York students to gain access to our specialized high schools.”
The Democratic Primary will be on September 13th. The 39th District includes parts of Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, and Corona.