NYC high schools' lottery process draws backlash

New York City's process for eighth-graders to apply to about two dozen selective high schools, such as Millennium High School in Lower Manhattan, is facing backlash from many parents.

"Parents are right to be concerned and outraged in many cases," said state Sen. John Liu of Queens, the chairman of the New York City Education Committee.

In late January, Chancellor David Banks announced applications to these coveted schools would be decided by a lottery even if a student's grades don't measure up.

"Somebody with an 80 or 85 grade point average is going to have the same chance of getting into a school, into a selective high school, as somebody with a 95 or a 97 grade point average," Liu said.

The schools chancellor could be having second thoughts about the fairness of the lottery system. At a recent meeting, Banks said he might make changes to the school selection process this week even though the deadline for applying is Friday.

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Liu said the application deadline can be extended without any problem.

"They can take another couple of weeks. They can take another month. Get it right," Liu said. "At the end of the day, that will be the best result for students and their families." 

Some school officials believe a lottery system for these selective schools could increase enrollment of children of color.

'"Giving somebody who has an 80 average the same chance as somebody who earned a 97 average doesn't actually equalize anything in the long run," Liu said. "What it does is it waters down the process. What we should really be doing… is improving school at the lower grades so that everyone has a chance to achieve a 95 or 97 average."