Status Quo at Elite New York Schools: Few Blacks and Hispanics

Shame! Shame! Shame!
New York Times
MARCH 11, 2014
Seven black students have been offered a chance to start classes at Stuyvesant High School in September, two fewer than received offers last year. For Hispanics, the number has dropped to 21 from 24.
According to data released on Tuesday, the racial demographics for incoming students at eight of the city’s nine specialized schools, where black and Hispanic students have long been underrepresented, has remained stagnant, prompting Mayor Bill de Blasio to call again for increasing diversity at the schools.
The eight schools have a single-test admittance policy that critics have called racially discriminatory.
“These schools are the jewels in the crown for our public school system,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference addressing criminal justice issues.
He added: “This is a city blessed with such diversity. Our schools, especially our particularly exceptional schools, need to reflect that diversity.”
Any significant policy changes, however, must pass through Albany, because the test-only rule, which has endured decades of complaints about its effect on minority enrollment, became state law in 1971.
Three of the most renowned schools, Stuyvesant, the Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Tech, have a combined enrollment of more than 10,000 students. Stuyvesant has an enrollment of about 3,300. A total of 952 students were offered seats for its freshman class.
At the news conference, Mr. de Blasio expressed optimism that a deal with Albany could be forged, though he has not put forth any specific legislative proposals. He did, however, raise the notion of ensuring that a wider range of students can prepare for the admittance test.
The numbers disclosed by the Education Department showed that of the 28,000 students citywide who took the Specialized High School Admissions Test, 5,701 of them were offered seats. Although 70 percent of the city’s public school students are black and Hispanic, blacks were offered 5 percent of the overall seats and Hispanics 7 percent — the same as a year ago. Asians were offered 53 percent of the seats, compared with 50 percent a year ago; whites were offered 26 percent of seats, compared with 24 percent a year ago.
In Albany, Assemblyman Karim Camara, a Democrat from Brooklyn, is redrafting a bill he introduced in 2011 to change admissions policies at the high schools. As before, the bill seeks to give the city power over admissions, but he said the revised bill would specify what other admissions criteria should be used.