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A New Kind of Test Prep

Susan Brenna
brooklyn technical high school

Brooklyn Technical High School—Photo by limonada, on Flickr

The New York Times reports today on graduates of New York’s specialized high schools who have taken it upon themselves to tutor disadvantaged kids for the elite schools’ admissions test. Yesterday I met two 8th grade boys, best friends Ricardo and Hector, who attend IS 89, a TASC ExpandED School in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. Ricardo wants to be an astrophysicist, Hector an engineer in digital electronics. Both are set on attending Brooklyn Tech, where the percentage of admitted black and Hispanic students is dropping. Hector’s and Ricardo’s counter-offensive is to learn as much science as possible.  

Given a choice of electives in their longer learning day that includes arts and library science, both chose to work in the school’s new greenhouse. They both have trained with MOUSE to support IT at their school. Ricardo’s father graduated from Brooklyn Tech but, due to family circumstances, could not go to college. His mother’s formal education ended when she was 18. Ricardo wants to go to Stanford.

When I visit ExpandED Schools, I like to ask kids what they’d be doing at 4 or 5 PM if they weren’t at school. By far the most frequent answer is “watching TV.” Hector and Ricardo said they would be studying for the specialized high school test.

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