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NYC School Admissions Exam Under Debate Amid Segregation Claims

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza unexpectedly found himself on the hot seat on Wednesday, lambasted about not enacting city council budget priorities during a hearing on school segregation.

Carranza was supposed to talk about segregation, but instead he got schooled -- taken to task -- for his failure to include a host of the council's pet projects in his new budget, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported.

Speaker Corey Johnson called the agency's spending plan, "disrespectful, wholly and totally unacceptable."

Council priorities included:

* Increased fair student funding -- the same amount of money spent per student citywide

* More social workers

* Busing for students in foster care

* More Gifted and Talented classrooms

* Pay parity for early childhood teachers

Students Testify At NYC Council Meeting:

"Not investing in fair student funding, not investing in all the things that the council spent weeks on, I find to be wholly disrespectful and in contradiction to the testimony here today," Speaker Johnson said.

When reminded by Kramer that Johnson gave him something of a tongue lashing over the budget, Carranza said, "The budget process is the budget process. I don't print my own money and the city doesn't print the money, either.

"Based on the list I've seen from the city council, I don't disagree. I think these are really worthy initiatives, but there's only a finite pot of money," Carranza added.

During the hearing, Carranza made a passionate plea to desegregate schools, starting with the elimination of the test for the eight specialized high schools.

"Simply put, the single admissions test is unfair and the status quo is unacceptable," Carranza said.

A panel of New York City high school students heartily agreed. One called the test, "a crime that has gone on too long."

"I am in front of you 65 years after the Supreme Court decided segregation had to go, 62 years after New York City approved a comprehensive integration plan that was never implemented," Brooklyn College Academy junior Sokhnadiarra Ndiaya said. "Five years after New York City was called out for having the most segregated school system in America."

She wants to end the test for the specialized high schools, but others said it should continue.

"I definitely don't want to get rid of the test. These schools have provided an opportunity for generations of children. The test is objective. It's merit based. It doesn't ask you what your race is. It doesn't ask you who your parents are. It doesn't ask you where you're from or who you know," said Charlie Vavruska of Maspeth, Queens.

The state Legislature has to decide about eliminating the test. In the meantime, the city council wants to expand opportunities by creating more elite high schools and restoring Gifted and Talented programs in every district, starting in kindergarten.

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