Originally posted on Chalkbeat by Christina Veiga on February 6, 2020
The country’s largest brick-and-mortar high school has a new leader: David Newman was appointed principal of Brooklyn Technical High School on Thursday, despite protests from some parents over the city’s selection process.
Newman is a familiar face at the prestigious campus, having served 21 years there as a social studies teacher, assistant principal, and interim acting principal.
“Brooklyn Tech is my home, and it is an honor to serve as principal,” he said in a statement. “I will continue to partner with the community to ensure that the students of Brooklyn Tech are successful both in high school and when they transition beyond.”
Brooklyn Tech is one of the city’s specialized high schools, which admit students based solely on the results of a standardized test, and are widely considered the among the Ivy League of public high schools in the country. They have been at the center of a battle over overhauling admissions practices to boost the disproportionately small numbers of black and Hispanic students enrolled. Almost 6,000 students attend the Fort Greene neighborhood campus.
Newman has been praised for focusing on the social and emotional health of students in what can be a pressure cooker atmosphere, starting a new advisory class, for example, to help freshmen navigate the transition to high school.
“He really works to engage the kids, and I think that’s very important,” said Elissa Stein, whose own child recently graduated from the school, and who runs a company that helps parents navigate the high school application process in New York City.
But the process of selecting a new principal opened a rift in the parent community, with some insisting that qualified candidates — including two of the school’s current assistant principals — had been cut out of the running. Instead, the selection committee was presented with candidates who “were not up to the caliber Tech deserves,” some wrote in a protest letter to the schools chancellor and other top education department staff.
Ultimately, though, the local superintendent holds most of the sway over the selection of a new principal. Superintendent Janice Ross said in a statement that she is “confident David will lead the charge to ensure Brooklyn Tech is a school we can always be proud of.”
Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.