NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A pilot program aimed at improving racial equity at New York City’s specialized high schools is working to secure funding to offer free test prep to those in need.

The multi-million dollar Education Equity Campaign is making sure minority students have the same opportunities, reports CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez.

Getting into one of New York City’s nine specialized high schools involves a lot of hard work to pass the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test.

Michelle Zhang, a freshman at Stuyvesant High School, knows first hand.

“I was in test prep for the SHSAT for three years from when I was in 5th grade to the test,” she said.

Zhang’s parents spent thousands of dollars for her private tutoring, a benefit many students living in majority minority neighborhoods can’t afford.

Members of Education Equity and community leaders rallying outside Stuyvesant High School say that’s what keeps minority groups like blacks and Latinos from getting a seat at those prestigious schools.

The group says Mayor Bill de Blasio’s initial effort to eliminate the admissions test altogether is not the answer to improve racial equity.

MORE: Not Valid Or Reliable? NYC Schools Chancellor Slams Test Needed To Enter City’s Elite High Schools

“Simply lowering the bar so more people can get in isn’t the answer,” said donor Richard Parson. “The answer to our problem is to create a system that finds talent early.”

Thanks to a seven-figure donation from business leader Parsons, philanthropist Ronald Lauer, Education Equity launched a pilot program providing free test prep for hundreds of students of color. They want the city to get on board.

MORE: Pressure Is On To Change The Single-Test Admissions Requirement For Elite NYC High Schools

“I think its a good idea because everyone deserves the same opportunity to get into schools like Stuy and Bronx Science and Staten Island Tech,” said student Mirian Hernandez.

The group is also pushing proposed legislation in Albany that would double the number of specialized high schools across the five boroughs.

MORE: De Blasio Considers Giving Up Fight To Scrap NYC’s Elite High School Test, Push Diversity Into Admissions Process

While students CBS2 spoke with are supportive of providing equal opportunities to their peers, they don’t believe adding more specialized schools is a good idea.

“To have that many specialized high schools, it just means everyone can get into one,” said Hernandez.

Education Equity says the ultimate goal is getting every student the best education they deserve.


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