Montefiore in the News
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Montefiore in the News

March 13, 2023

By Cayla Bamberger New York Daily News• Mar 13, 2023 at 7:45 am

A third location of the highly selective Bard High School Early College is slated to open this fall in the South Bronx that prioritizes local families — an effort to address a perennial balancing act between rigor and equity in the city’s most exclusive public schools.

After years of negotiations, a proposal to site the accelerated program where students can earn an associate degree by graduation in Morrisania will come for a vote next month by the city’s Panel for Educational Policy. It comes as eighth graders across the five boroughs received high school admissions offers Thursday, meaning students interested in Bard this cycle would need to apply through a separate process.

“From the first conversation with Chancellor Banks and his team, something that was really important was about bringing the same quality and standards and resources and rigor that defines this program to the Bronx in full,” said Stephen Tremaine, executive director of Bard Early College. “First and foremost for South Bronx residents — and to do that unapologetically.”

Bard High School, a public college prep high school with ties to Bard College, on the Lower East Side of New York. (Kathy Willens/AP)

If approved, the majority of seats will be reserved for students in the Bronx, with priority for Districts 7, 9 and 12, according to materials submitted to the panel. One in 10 seats are up for grabs outside the borough.

That was a prime concern for advocates in the Bronx who have watched schools in their neighborhoods largely enroll families from the outside with the time and resources to navigate competitive admissions processes.

“The point of the High School Early College program was to give Black and brown people access and opportunity to a Bard College degree,” said Tom Sheppard, who represents Bronx parents on the panel. “So what I don’t want to see is it to turn into the type of opportunity meant for Black and brown people that they don’t get to enjoy.”

Roughly 4 in 10 students at Bard’s current locations on the Lower East Side and in Long Island City are Black and Hispanic, and its most recent class is more diverse, according to Bard officials. That represents a significant increase over the past few years, but short of the nearly two-thirds of students citywide from those groups.

At the Manhattan location, 35% of students are white, compared to less than 15% of students across the five boroughs, city data show.

Bard tried to open in the Bronx in 2019 but faced pushback under former Mayor de Blasio over its use of selective admissions criteria. Students needed a GPA of 85 or higher, fewer than 10 lates or absences, math and writing entrance exams, and in-person interviews to apply.

As the new administration took over, Schools Chancellor David Banks promised three new academically accelerated high schools in the South Bronx as well as Ocean Hill-Brownsville and in southeast Queens. Education officials told the Daily News in an interview that Bard is part of fulfilling that promise.

Roughly 4 in 10 students at Bard’s current locations on the Lower East Side and in Long Island City are Black and Hispanic, and its most recent class is more diverse, according to Bard officials. (Shutterstock/Shutterstock)

Almost all Bard students graduate within four years and enroll in college or another post-secondary program within six months, according to city data.

“The chancellor’s vision is to the greatest extent possible to provide high-quality opportunities in all neighborhoods,” said First Deputy Chancellor Dan Weisberg.

Since the pandemic, updated admissions policy scraps attendance as a factor, and considers grades to a lesser extent. Officials modified entrance exams so that they are no longer standardized, but with writing prompts. And interviews have evolved to a recorded “personal statement,” where applicants explain why they want to start college two years early.