Monday, November 26, 2012

NYC Elite Middle Schools Lack Diversity

Last week, we learned that our city's elite public schools lack Black and Latino students.

Revisiting The Racially Exclusive Elite Public School Problem

We focused in October of this year on the tragedy of NYC elite public high schools. Because admission to our city's most elite public high schools is based entirely on one long test, the process is easily attacked. It does not account for intellect, grades, character, or any other assets that students might bring to a school.

As we stated in October:
the single-test approach leads to a virtual exclusion of Black and Latino students from these schools. At the best-known school, Stuyvesant, only 19 of the nearly 1,000 students admitted recently were Black, and only 32 were Latino. These 2% and 3% population levels are unacceptable in a school system in which a majority of the students are Black or Latino.

In fact, nearly 31% of white students who take the test are accepted while only 7% of Latinos and 5% of Blacks are accepted.

Unfortunately, this battle in crossing several generations. As the Huffington Post has taught us:
The controversy over admission to New York City's elite high schools is not new. In May 1971, New York Times education columnist Fred Hechinger reported that efforts were being made to eliminate a "discovery" program that allowed for greater black and Hispanic enrollment and school Chancellor Scribner had ordered a study to investigate charges that the entire admission process was discriminatory. To prevent changes, the state legislature passed a law in 1972 to effectively prevent efforts to racially diversify the city's select high schools with the single high-stakes test as the only way to gain admission.

Elite Middle Schools Lacking Black and Latino Students

The top high schools have low single-digit percentages of Black and Latino students, and the elite middle schools have higher numbers, approximately 25% Black and Latino. But, Black and Latino students represent approximately 70% of all students in NYC public schools. The higher percentages appear to come from admissions criteria that go beyond a single test, but the higher percentages are still far too low.

As stated in the NY Daily News, the Anderson School in Manhattan, a top middle school in our city, only 17% of the 569 students are black or Latino, and at Mark Twain in Brooklyn, which has its own admissions exam, again 17% of 1,281 students are black or Latino.

The middle schools show us that we need to move away from the single high-stakes test approach and they show us that simply avoiding the single test is not enough. We need a focused and determined effort to provide Black and Latino students access to the best middle schools and high schools in our city.

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