School admissions need more oversight
Mar 28, 2017 | 2948 views | 0 0 comments | 202 202 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Local parents cried foul this week after it was revealed that students at parochial schools weren't being offered seats at Maspeth High School over a clerical error that didn't label them as “priorities.”

In a system with little transparency, if it weren't for the outraged parents the world never would have known.

It shows how important the involvement of parents can be at local schools, but also what happens when you have too many bureaucratic agencies acting autonomously. There's no reason that school admissions should not be operated under the oversight of the City Council.

The process for choosing a school is relatively straightforward. The Department of Education (DOE) uses an algorithm to process and accept applications, and students that sign onto a list at a chosen public school are considered a priority for next year.

In this case, it was a human error that cost kids a spot at the public school of their choice. If there's no oversight or transparency, these errors just slip through the cracks.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley is proposing some common-sense solutions we should all be able to get behind.

She is introducing legislation requiring DOE to post the application process for admission and disclose the number of applicants received and number of students admitted. Any lotteries for admittance must be done publicly.

The other piece of legislation she's introducing would require the DOE to disclose on the department's website the zip codes of admitted students to zoned high schools, and explain how the algorithm it uses to select students is formulated.

That way, if any mistakes were to take place, it will be plain as day. Who knows how many other schools have had similar issues in the past?

This will ensure that the problems can be addressed right away if it happens again in the future.
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