A third location of the highly selective Bard High School Early College is scheduled 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 most exclusive public schools. from the city.
After years of negotiations, a proposal to locate the accelerated program where students can earn an associate’s degree upon graduation in Morrisania will come up for a vote next month by the city’s Educational Policy Panel. It comes as eighth graders in all five boroughs. received high school admission offers on Thursdaywhich means that students interested in Bard this term will need to apply through a separate process.
“From the first conversation with Chancellor Banks and his team, something really important was bringing the same quality, standards, resources and rigor that defines this program to the Bronx as a whole,” said Stephen Tremaine, executive director of Bard Early College. . “First and foremost to the residents of the South Bronx, and to do so without apology.”
If approved, most seats will be reserved for Bronx students, with priority given to Districts 7, 9 and 12, according to materials presented to the panel. One in 10 seats is up for grabs outside the municipality.
That was one of the main concerns of advocates in the Bronx who have watched schools in their neighborhoods. largely enroll families from abroad with the time and resources to navigate competitive admissions processes.
“The goal of the High School Early College program was to give black and brown people access and the opportunity to earn a Bard College degree,” said Tom Sheppard, who represents Bronx parents on the panel. “So what I don’t want to see is it become the kind of opportunity that’s meant for black and brown people who can’t enjoy themselves.”
About 4 in 10 students at Bard’s current locations on the Lower East Side and in Long Island City are African American and Hispanic, and its newest class is more diverse, according to Bard officials. That represents a significant increase in recent years, but below the nearly two-thirds of students citywide in those groups.
At the Manhattan location, 35% of students are white, compared to less than 15% of students in all five boroughs, city data shows.
Bard tried to open in the Bronx in 2019, but faced rejection from former mayor de Blasio on the use of selective admission criteria. Students needed a GPA of 85 or higher, fewer than 10 tardies or absences, math and writing entrance exams, and in-person interviews to apply.
When the new administration took office, Schools Chancellor David Banks promised three new accelerated high schools in the South Bronx, as well as in Ocean Hill-Brownsville and southeast Queens. Education officials told the Daily News in an interview that Bard is part of keeping that promise.
Nearly all Bard students graduate in four years and enroll in college or another post-secondary program in six months, according to city data.
“The chancellor’s vision is, to the greatest extent possible, provide high-quality opportunities in all neighborhoodssaid First Vice Chancellor Dan Weisberg.
Since the pandemic, the updated admissions policy removes attendance as a factor and considers grades to a lesser extent. The officials modified the entrance exams so that they are no longer standardized, but with written indications. And the interviews have evolved into a recorded “personal statement,” where applicants explain why they want to start college two years early.
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“This high school primarily serves students from the South Bronx,” Weisberg said, “where there are a lot of high-achieving kids, high-potential kids, who all too often have to travel. We have hundreds of children who leave the Bronx to go, for example, to Bard Manhattan or Bard Queens.”
Bard has received more than 900 applications from the Bronx for its other locations, a sign of “strong demand” for a site in the county, according to materials presented to the panel.
In its first year, Bard High School in the Bronx would serve mostly ninth graders and some 11th graders, for a total of up to 145 students, the documents show. If approved, it would be temporarily housed in a building with a middle school and two high schools until a long-term location is found.
The school will also partner with the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and its Montefiore Hospital to provide opportunities in the sciences. Talks are still ongoing, but the hospital system could offer curricular support, labs and facilities, and career opportunities, while its school health programs already care for tens of thousands of city public school children.
“For us, it was a natural step in the evolution of how we think about investing in the Bronx and, in particular, investing in youth,” said Joseph Solmonese, Montefiore’s senior vice president of government relations and strategic communications.
As with all other locations at Bard, students who are not interested in science will have the opportunity to earn college credit for free or earn an associate’s degree to gain a head start in the job market.
“That affects not just how fast you go, but how far you go,” said Tremaine, the Bard officer. “It has a huge impact by opening doors for youth and breaking down barriers.”