Dear Commons Community,
My colleague, David Bloomfield alerted me to this article that appeared last night in the New York Daily News that describes how once again few black or Hispanic children are being admitted into New York City’s specialized high schools. As reported:
“Fewer black and Hispanic kids were offered seats in the city’s elite specialized high schools in 2019, even as Mayor de Blasio attempts to integrate the world-famous schools where Asian and white students dominate enrollment.
Just 506 black and Hispanic students received first-round offers this year from the city’s specialized high schools, such as the Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Technical High School, according to enrollment data released Monday.
That’s down from 527 black and Hispanic students who received offers last year, a drop of roughly 4%.
The total number of first-round offers also went down slightly, falling 5.3% from 5,067 in 2018 to 4,798 in 2019.
The city’s specialized schools are known as some of the finest public schools in the nation but they have drawn fire in recent years because they are intensely segregated.
In 2019, only about 4% of 4,278 total offers at the top schools went to black students and 6.3% to Hispanic kids. That’s about the same as last year.
In contrast, black and Hispanic kids account for more than two-thirds of the city school system’s overall student body.
At Manhattan’s famed Stuyvesant High School, just seven of 895 offers went to black kids.
New York City Parents Union founder Mona Davids, a black woman whose son attends a public school, said that a lack of adequate elementary and middle schools in inner-city neighborhoods has resulted in a puny number of black and Hispanic kids getting offers to top city high schools.
“Until the quality of education in New York City improves, nothing is going to make a difference,” Davids said.
Eight of the city’s specialized schools, including Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech and Bronx Science, use the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) to admit students.
A ninth specialized school, the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, admits students based on a talent audition and review of academic records.
The schools that use the SHSAT test have become the center of a pitched debate on school segregation after de Blasio backed a plan to eliminate the use of the test in June.
That plan hasn’t gone into action but de Blasio has also put forth a number of other programs to diversify the elite high schools, including programs to tutor kids for the SHSAT test and efforts to boost the number of kids who take the test.
Another desegregation effort to set aside specialized high school seats for students from economically-challenged middle schools, dubbed the Discovery Program, prompted a suit that caused the city to delay the release of high school acceptance letters until Monday, about 10 days later than usual.
Brooklyn College and CUNY Grad Center Education professor David Bloomfield said the acceptance numbers released Monday show that de Blasio’s efforts aren’t making much of a difference.
“It doesn’t appear to be moving the needle,” Bloomfield said. “The iron hand of inequality isn’t solved by half-measures.”
A Department of Education spokesman said that more black and Hispanic students may be offered seats at specialized schools in the coming weeks under the Discovery Program.
But city schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said the elite schools’ dismal diversity numbers show that admissions based on the SHSAT exam must end.
“We need to eliminate the single test for specialized high school admissions now,” Carranza said.”
The City’s Department of Education just can’t get this right even after years of excluding minority students from these schools.