A bill to eliminate the specialized high school admissions test likely does not have a path forward this year in the New York State legislature.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he would take up the issue next session, likely stymying any chance that the bill will come before the Assembly this year for a vote.
“We want to come up with something that is good for all students and so I think over the next few months and into next session we’ll be having discussions with all of the stakeholders,” Heastie said, which was first reported in Capital Tonight. Heastie said he made the decision after talking to members of his party and the Asian Pacific task force, which represents a community that has come out in force against the proposal.
The bill already had an extremely difficult path forward this year. Mayor Bill de Blasio threw his weight behind the plan only a few weeks before the end of the legislative session, and lawmakers expressed little interest in tackling the controversial bill in such a short amount of time.
The bill had cleared the Assembly’s education committee but faced very long odds of passing in the Senate. Not only has the Senate been struggling with a stalemate this session, the chair of the Senate’s education committee said the committee had no plans to meet again before the end of the year, according to the New York Post.
Still, Heastie’s hesitance to tackle the bill is telling of how divisive the issue is among lawmakers. Many legislators — even Democratic lawmakers whose support the mayor will likely need to pass the bill — have come out against the current plan to overhaul specialized high school admissions.
The bill backed by the mayor would phase out the Specialized High School Admissions Test, which is currently the only way students can earn a spot at the set of eight elite public high schools. Instead, it would use middle school grades and test scores to determine admission.
The mayor’s rationale for the change is that it will allow more black and Hispanic students to attend the schools. Currently only about 10 percent of admissions offers go to black and Hispanic students, while about two-thirds of the city’s students are black and Hispanic.
But the plan is already facing intense opposition from alumni groups and leaders in the Asian American community. Asian students comprise 62 percent of students at the city’s prestigious schools.
This story has been updated to reflect that Chalkbeat has confirmed Heastie’s statement.