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As co-chair of the mayor’s School Diversity Advisory Group, Maya Wiley advocated to end the city’s Gifted and Talented program, the specialized high-school exam and all admission “screens” — calling them racially discriminatory.
“There should be no discriminatory admissions policies, period,” Wiley, the mayor’s former in-house counsel and a civil-rights activist, told The Post.
But as a parent, Wiley took advantage of selective programs, The Post has learned.
Now running for mayor, Wiley sent her oldest daughter to Mark Twain Intermediate School for the Gifted and Talented in Brooklyn, a coveted middle school that cherry-picks high-performing students. It’s also one of the city’s most racially disproportionate — with 51 percent white kids.
The teen then went to Humanities Preparatory Academy in Manhattan, a public high school with 83 percent Hispanic and black students, but one that screened incoming 9th-graders for good grades in core subjects, among other criteria.
Wiley’s younger daughter spent grades 6 to 12 at Brooklyn Friends, a private school that currently charges $51,000 a year in tuition. Wiley and her husband Harlan Mandel, CEO of Media Development Investment Fund, are also donors to the school.
It took weeks of requests and reminders for Wiley’s spokesman to finally disclose her personal educational choices. At a Jan. 26 candidates’ forum sponsored by the city principals’ union, Wiley described herself “as a parent who spent a total of 15 years” in the city school system, without divulging the schools she chose for her daughters.
Her spokesman later said one daughter spent 10 years in NYC public schools, and the other five years.
Asked about her family decisions, Wiley did not comment.
Experts are not surprised. “When options are available, parents will take advantage of their privileges,” said David Bloomfield, a Brooklyn College and CUNY Grad Center education professor. “But those privileges are the problem, and should be eliminated.”
Mayor de Blasio’s two kids attended selective Brooklyn middle schools. His son went on to Brooklyn Tech, a specialized high school, and his daughter to choosy Beacon HS in Manhattan. Yet Hizzoner has long tried to dismantle the specialized high school entry exam.
Other mayoral candidates have put their own children in touted public programs or pricey private schools.
- NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer has made it known his two children, ages 7 and 9, are thriving in a city Gifted & Talented program in Manhattan.
“As a parent, it’s my job to figure out what’s best for my kids. But it’s the mayor’s job to look out for all kids,” Stringer told The Post. “I recognize that what the City is giving to my kids is not what it is providing to many others — particularly children of color.
“As mayor, I’ll end the discriminatory status quo, where there are four times as many kids in gifted programs in District 2 in Manhattan as in District 12 in the Bronx.”
Stringer says he would end “the absurd practice of testing 4-year-olds” for G & T as well as the SHSAT for admission to specialized high schools, and use 7th-grade state tests instead.
- Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate, has two young children, one in a public school. The other attends a city-funded private school for kids with disabilities. Yang says the city should “de-emphasize” the SHSAT — using the high-stakes exam only “in conjunction with more holistic practices.”
- Eric Adams, Brooklyn borough president, said his son went to public schools from K to 12 — in Hackensack, NJ, where the child lived with his mom. Adams said he would keep the SHSAT for all eight specialized high schools that use the tough exam. He also vows to build five new specialized schools — one in each borough — and offer seats to the top students from each middle school to achieve more diversity.
- Kathryn Garcia, the city’s former sanitation commissioner, has a son and daughter who went to public schools for K-5, but switched to Poly Prep, a $53,000-a-year private school, for grades 6 to 12. “I would leave the SHSAT as is,” Garcia said. Instead, she would build new high schools for students in the top 10 percent of their 8th-grade class, “and ensure we prepare every middle school student for a rigorous high school experience.”
- Ray McGuire, a veteran Wall Street executive, sent his three children to pricey private schools. If elected, McGuire says he will increase the number of G&T classrooms, expanding programs in under-represented districts. He opposes the SHSAT as the sole entry criteria for specialized schools, saying admission decisions should also consider grades, recommendations, essays and extracurricular activities.
- Shaun Donovan’s two sons attended private schools in Washington, D.C., while he served as the Housing Secretary and Budget Director under President Obama. Donovan says he would push to repeal Hecht-Calandra, the state law that requires the SHSAT for at least three specialized high schools, Stuyvesant, Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech. He would also broaden the entrance criteria for five other specialized high schools the city controls.
- Progressive Dianne Morales, who left as CEO of a South Bronx social-services non-profit to run, sued the city to pay for her daughter to attend a private special-ed school in grades 3 to 8. Her daughter then went to Talent Unlimited High School, a selective Manhattan performing-arts school with admission criteria. Her son attended Brooklyn Tech, an elite high school requiring a SHSAT score for entry.
As a candidate, Morales opposes selective criteria and the SHSAT, saying through a spokeswoman: “Any screenings are the antithesis of increasing access and improving equality for all.”
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