New Special Admissions Equity Plan is Not Equitable

by Stephanie King

Good afternoon. My name is Stephanie King and I am a parent at Gen. Philip Kearny School in Northern Liberties. I commend your first attempt at a plan for equity in selective admission schools. However, the new plan fails in numerous ways.

First of all, using zip code as a determination is a flawed method and you know it. There is a great deal of variation within zip codes. For example, your proposal would hardly change anything in 19123. They are already many students here attending prestigious high schools, but they’re rarely from Kearny; they’re from neighborhood families who pay for private OR transfer to public schools in other neighborhoods. Likewise, Harrington is in the same zip code as Sadie Alexander. Meredith and Vare-Washington.

Secondly, you have failed to give any preference to public school students when some magnet schools are filled with at least 30% private school students. Parents can continue gaming the system by using private schools to get their kids ahead of residents of the same zip code. Public magnet schools should be for public school students who have come up through the public school system. Why should people who abandoned public schools be given an easy on-ramp back into the system after you made every other student sit in traffic?

You’ve also still failed to address the other ways school selection contributes to segregation. Last year, white students only made up 17% of kindergartners but 37% of them requesting a school switch through school selection, almost always to schools with whiter demographics. This has been a consistent pattern for all the years you’ve been collecting these statistics, because I filed a right-to-know request for them.

All these problems exist before we even get to the part where there is still no acknowledgement or plan to address how you’ve failed to give every student an equal elementary school to level the playing field.

You pledged in the Goals & Guardrails to “End Racist Practices.” Your plan is a baby step in the right direction, but as long as you continue refusing to admit or acknowledge these flaws, it’ll just be a different racist line in the sand.