Choose the wisest wonk

Admission into New York City’s most selective public high schools is based on middle schoolers’ results on a single exam: the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test. Civil-rights advocates, pointing out the relatively small number of black and Hispanic students to be found in the city’s top high schools, have sought to change this system—but their efforts are not gaining political traction. Gadfly would welcome a more holistic review of candidates in Gotham (as we see in most exam schools nationwide. But that won’t solve the problem that worries the civil-rights advocates; while these institutions use “multiple measures” to assess their candidates, they still struggle to enroll significant numbers of black and Hispanic students, just as Harvard and Stanford do.

After Hurricane Katrina, the state-run Recovery School District (RSD) took over all of New Orleans’s schools but the best ones. Now, according to the Hechinger Report, RSD charter schools are beginning to inch past those schools that were historically top performers, making impressive gains for the most disadvantaged students in the area. This certainly attests to a strong and well-led charter sector. But what’s the secret sauce? To learn what policy wonks think makes some charter sectors successful, check out our Charter School Policy Wonk-a-Thon—and vote for your favorite wonk.