Are the NYC High School Fairs, Fair?

Students that have been attending low performing elementary & middle schools in NYC’s poorest districts often emerge to find their high school choices limited. Having experienced less academic rigor, fewer talented teachers, and little enrichment, these young people will find the NYC High School fair to be very unfair.

Recently, the Manhattan borough fair offered four floors of tables littered with flyers, exhibits, banners, even candy. The goal was to entice students and parents to engage with school representatives. There was also a different kind of “candy,” schools hawking exciting sports, theatre, web design and other career track options, with little or no mention of academic rigor or college readiness statistics.

“Fourteen is far too young to deem a student unable to handle a four year college experience.” 

As students roamed, many without parents, it was hard not to wonder who was helping these fourteen- year-olds make the decision that would likely alter their life trajectory. Will they graduate ready for a four-year college, or simply learn a marketable skill?

The fairs are intended to help families make sense of a very complicated application, screening and selection process, and it can be helpful. But, when parents lack the education or language skills to navigate this confusing and time-consuming process, they need sound advice – not buzzwords.

Except in rare cases, fourteen is far too young to be side-tracked into narrowly focused job training, and deemed incapable of a four-year college degree. Many low-income students from underserved districts have never been academically challenged, given support, or enrichment opportunities that would have allowed them to blossom. What they need is help with the process, and strong guidance to make a wise choice.

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