For eight of the nine specialized high schools in New York, admittance for minorities is at a damaging low. Seven African-American students were accepted into the prestigious Stuyvesant High School’s freshman class for the upcoming school year, along with 21 Hispanics. The total number of incoming freshman at Stuyvesant is over 900.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called all of the elite schools the “jewels in the crown for our public school system,” but is worried they aren’t doing their part to reflect New York’s culture.
“This is a city blessed with such diversity,” de Blasio said. “Our schools, especially our particularly exceptional schools, need to reflect that diversity.”
Critics are blaming the schools’ single-test admittance policy, claiming the Specialized High School Admissions Test negatively affects minority enrollment and strengthens racial discrimination. According to the New York Education Department, 28,000 students took the test last year, with only 5,701 being offered seats – 5% going to African-Americans and 7% to Hispanics. Blacks and Hispanics make up 70% of New York’s public school system.
On the flip side, enrollment numbers for Asian and white students in elite schools continue to rise and as it stands, 14%-20% of Asian, Hispanic and African-American students are taking on the college experience.
Changes to enrollment can only be made through the state legislature, as the single-test policy has been a law since 1971. Mayor de Blasio is hoping to work with the legislature on alternatives that will increase the success rate of minorities’ acceptance rates.
Assemblyman Karim Camara, a Democrat from Brooklyn, is redrafting a three-year-old bill that would give the city power over admissions procedures.