Data Shows New York City’s Most Elite High Schools Are Also The Most Segregated
On the heels of the college admissions scandal highlighted the class divide in accessing higher education, new data reveals a similar story for some trying to get to into elite high schools. A report by the New York Times shows Latino and Black students make up 70 percent of New York’s public school students, but only 10 percent are admitted to the city’s eight specialized high schools. Stuyvesant High School, one of the city’s most selective schools, has gotten the most attention for admitting only seven Black students and 33 Latino students out of the 895 students of next year’s freshman class.
In total, about six percent of the offers from New York City’s top schools were reportedly handed out to Latino students and four percent were offered to black students. The report has started a conversation on how to racially integrate the city’s elite high schools.
At issue in the admissions process is a test called the Specialized High School Admissions Test(SHSAT), which helps determine placement.
Each year, the eight high schools admit close to 4,000 freshmen from a pool of nearly 30,000 eighth-graders who take the Specialized High School Admission Test. As of now, students are accepted on how well they perform on those test. Students spend months prepping for the test in hopes of getting into one of these elite schools.
Stuyvesant is the toughest school to get admitted to and also has the highest cutoff score for admission. Due to these factors, the school also has the lowest percentage of Black and Latino students of any of New York City’s roughly 600 public high schools.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed replacing the exam with a system based on middle-school class ranks and statewide standardized test scores.
“Can anyone look the parent of a Latino or Black child in the eye and tell them their precious daughter or son has an equal chance to get into one of their city’s best high schools?” de Blasio wrote in an op-ed for Chalkbeat. “You can’t write a single test that captures the full reality of a person.”
But there has yet be any progression towards anything being done to change this testing system. Yet the recently released numbers show the growing disparity of those getting a great education compared to those, mainly Latino and Blacks students, that aren’t.
The admissions statistics highlight the enormity of education inequity at New York City’s top high schools.
While the dismal statistics show a harsh reality for many minorities in the city, others say the issue needs to be carefully approached. Some have speculated that the high numbers of Asian-American students, who make up the majority of the school popuilation, would be reduced to make space for more Latino and Black students.
John Liu, a state senator from the borough of Queens who chairs the Senate’s New York City education committee, told the NY Times. “A desegregation plan can only be effective if the problem is viewed as a whole, and one that is not formulated to the total exclusion of Asian-Americans.”
Even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out the elite Stuyvesant High School for their low admittance numbers.
Among those who that have spoke on the dismal admission numbers is Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). The Bronx congresswoman took to Twitter to express her displeasure with the alarming report.
“[Sixty-eight percent] of all NYC public school students are Black or Latino,” Ocasio tweeted. “To only have 7 Black students accepted into Stuyvesant tells us that this is a system failure. Education inequity is a major factor in the racial wealth gap. This is what injustice looks like.”
Broad change is desperately needed in the New York City public school system.
If the admission system is failing students of color from getting quality education. there might be a greater problem here. While one side wants to overhaul to admission system, the other warns it’ll heavily affect the current population of students attending these schools.
The issue is being played out in the largest school district in the country, which enrolls almost one million children. It also highlights the larger issue of education inequality being discussed across the country, both in K-12 and in higher education.
At a town hall this past Saturday, Ocasio-Cortez, state senators, and education activists took part in a discussion about improving public schools. While Ocasio-Cortez didn’t take a stance on overhauling the admission system, she asked why all public city schools don’t have similarly quality reputations as the elite high schools.
“Why isn’t every public school in New York City a Brooklyn Tech-caliber school?” Ocasio-Cortez asked. “Every one should be.”