The battle over the admissions standards at New York City’s elite public high schools has heated up again. After having failed to change the standards last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio is back at it, this time with some backup from celebrity freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. As usual, their impassioned pleas about the lack of black and Hispanic students completely ignores that it is Asian, not white, students who would bear the brunt of the proposed changes.
At issue is the fact that these hyper-competitive high schools consider only a test score in deciding admissions. This meritocracy has created some of the best high schools in the world. They would have you believe that wealthy white parents game the system by hiring expensive tutors, but while they might, it’s not working. In fact, wealthy white kids are not dominating this process at all. . .
68% of all NYC public school students are Black or Latino.
To only have 7 Black students accepted into Stuyvesant (a *public* high school) 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. https://t.co/89NKvXk4vg
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 19, 2019
Her math is correct, but what she fails to mention is that while Asian students make up only 15 percent of all students in New York, they are a whopping 74 percent of students at Stuyvesant, the school she references. She claims this is inequity and represents a racial wealth gap. But exactly what systems does she believe that New York City has in place that can explain the extraordinary achievements of Asian students? Are Asians getting better schools? More resources? In what way are Asians the beneficiaries of a racial wealth gap? . . .
The biggest problem with Ocasio-Cortez and de Blasio’s position is not that it is unfair to high-achieving Asian students (it is), but that changing the admission process at elite high schools does absolutely nothing to solve the underlying problem. The real problem is that black and Latino kids are not currently achieving in ways we historically know they are capable of.
Changing the rules at Stuyvesant may result in 30 or 40 black students instead of 7, a big increase. Those students may do well, and the mostly Asian students they would displace may also do well in non-elite schools. But so what? This is a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. De Blasio and Ocasio-Cortez will congratulate themselves for diversifying Stuy, but the unfathomable failures we see in educating black and brown kids in New York City will be left unchanged. (Read more from “Ocasio-Cortez Joins De Blasio in Call to Punish Asian Students” HERE)