Uneasy tension is brewing in New York City over the glooming low admission of Black and Latino students in the city’s elite specialized public high schools. Only 11 percent of the students accepted in the city’s highly selective public schools this year were Black or Latinos.
The figures have been practically stagnant for years. This has sparked fears among parents and educators of the reincarnation of the racist Jim Crow era – the period of racial segregation in southern United States.
According to the New York Daily News, at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, the city’s most selective public high school, only 10 black students and 20 Latino students got admission offers, out of nearly 800 students accepted, citing new data released.
“New York City is the most segregated school system in the nation for black students, [and] the second most for Latinx students,” NBC News quoted David Kirkland, an associate professor of urban education at New York University, and the executive director of its Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools as saying. “It’s unconscionable, those numbers, in a city that expresses a commitment to equity and diversity.”
In order to gain acceptance into the city’s eight elite and admired high schools one has to be examined. Black and Latino students are said to make up 70% of the city school population, and 45% of all students who took the specialized high school exam this year, the Daily News reported.
Amy Stuart Wells, a professor of sociology and education at Columbia University, in an email to NBC news labeled the one-entrance exam policy “the new Jim Crow of public education.”
“We know that students’ learning and knowledge is cultural and that too often standardized tests are culturally biased, resulting in racial and ethnic disparities in results,” Wells, who also serves as the executive director of Reimagining Education for a Racially Just Society at the university’s Teachers College, added.
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza admitted in a statement that: “Diversity in our specialized high schools remains stagnant because we know a single test does not capture our students’ full potential. I am hopeful we’ll move towards a more equitable system next year.”
According to the Daily News, despite the city’s officials expanding an after-school and weekend tutoring program for low-income students with good grades from about 2,300 students last year to 4,200 this year, the numbers of black and Latino students admitted are still stagnant.
Nearly 28,000 students took the specialized exam this year, the outlet reported with just under 4,300 getting admitted. Asian students made up 54% of students admitted, and white students comprised 25%. Overall, more than 78,000 city students got high school admission offers Thursday, with 73% getting into one of the schools they ranked among their top three choices.
Deputy general counsel for Latino Justice PRLDEF, José Pérez, said he feels “just frustration, disappointment” over the recurring low numbers of enrolment.
The group filed a federal civil rights complaint against the city’s department of education alongside the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College in 2012 complaining about the thousands of black and Latino students who were denied admissions.
“There are students that have excellent academic credentials, community involvement, leadership, but they may not just test well on this one test,” Pérez said. “Does that then preclude them from ever getting a seat at one of these eight specialized high schools, which are the ones that open up doors and are really pathways to Ivy League universities?”