Newark Superintendent Roger León has announced the opening of three new high schools. Just one catch: Only students who meet a set of benchmarks are allowed to enroll. From Chalkbeat:
Dedicated to fashion, data science, and international studies, the new “specialized” schools will use a battery of assessments to handpick their students. Applicants must submit their middle-school grades, attendance records, and test scores; take the district’s high school admissions exam; and undergo other evaluations, including an interview, audition, or writing assessment. The stringent admission requirements mean the schools will only admit a small number of the rising ninth graders who submit applications, which are due next week. With the addition of the specialized schools, 11 of the district’s 17 high schools will now decide which students to admit based partly on how well they performed in middle school.
This approach to expanding schools may appear counter-intuitive to those who follow the Newark education scene. The oft-cited claim by anti-choice folk is that district schools are saddled with low-performing students because charters “cream off” high-performing kids.
What’s León doing?
Creaming off high-performing kids.
The oddness increases when one considers the (error-ridden) screed León sent to the NJ Department of Education last year ordering then-Commissioner Lamont Repollet to close down four charter schools. Why? Because they’re not high-performing enough when compared to then-existing Newark district magnet schools that, well, cream off top students.
Here’s a Newark parent’s reaction:
They kind of say, ‘These are who we want to come here, and if you can’t live up to our standards, then you can’t come,’” said Ashley Paris, whose daughter is applying to several Newark high schools this fall, including one of the new programs. “They should allow these kids to have the opportunity to go there whether they meet the requirements or not.