Saturday, March 16, 2013
Results of SHSAT For Top High Schools Shows Racism
During a year when the racial composition of the student bodies at the city’s most selective high schools came under harsh new scrutiny, the number of black and Hispanic students admitted to the schools fell sharply.
Of the 5,229 students accepted to the city’s eight specialized high schools this year, 618 were black or Hispanic, according to data the Department of Education released today, the day that eighth-graders learned their high school placement. Last year, the schools accepted 733 black and Hispanic students, more than in the recent past.
The sharpest declines came at the city’s most selective schools. Out of 963 students accepted to ultra-elite Stuyvesant High School, just nine are black and 24 are Hispanic. Last year, the school accepted 51 black and Hispanic students. At Brooklyn Technical High School, the largest of the specialized schools, the number of black and Hispanic students accepted fell by 22 percent.
The declines outpaced another sharp drop-off, in the number of black and Hispanic students who even took the admissions test that is the single determinant of whether students can attend the specialized schools. The number of white and Asian students who sat for the exam increased slightly, but 550 fewer black students and 384 fewer Hispanic students took the test.
Overall, black and Hispanic students received 12 percent of specialized high school offers, down from 14 percent last year but up slightly from 11 percent in 2011. They made up 45 percent of test-takers and make up about 71 percent of students citywide.
“It’s disappointing that the amount of students in Stuyvesant are not reflective of New York City public schools,” said Karim Camara, chairman of the state Assembly’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus. “Obviously, there needs to be serious efforts to increase enrollment of black and Latino students in these schools.”
Camara has proposed legislation that would require specialized schools to base admissions on multiple measurements, the central demand of a civil rights complaint filed last year by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The complaint, which the federal Office of Civil Rights is considering, says admission to the schools would be more fair if students’ grades, teacher recommendations, extracurricular activities, and life experiences were considered.
“This year’s admission numbers represent the continuation of a trend of unfairness and acute racial disparities in admissions to New York’s eight specialized high schools that has been going on for years,” Damon Hewitt, LDF’s legal director, said today. “We will not see a reversal of this trend until the schools’ admissions policy changes once and for all.”
City officials have consistently defended the admissions process — which would require legislative approval to change — and did so again today.
“We take efforts to ensure our system of great schools is diverse, but ultimately for the specialized high schools, we believe the SHSAT is the fairest measure for admission,” said Devon Puglia, a department spokesman.