Racism In School Admissions Policies

There was a time in America when schools were segregated and black children did not have the educational opportunities that white children had. Now schools are integrated, and generally opportunities are more equal. Cultural differences impact the education that children receive, but generally speaking, opportunities are equal. Some cultures put a greater emphasis on academic achievement than others, and that has become obvious to our college admissions boards and to some of our specialty high schools. Those among us who care more about equal outcome than equal opportunity have tried to change their admissions policies to compensate for those cultural differences. New York City Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza have attempted to change the admissions policies for New York City’s specialized high schools.

The New York Post posted an article about the changes on March 2.

The article reports:

Last December, the Chinese American Citizens Alliance Greater New York (CACAGNY) filed a racial-discrimination lawsuit against the city after Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza announced changes to admissions to New York’s specialized high schools, eight of which measure academic ability only through the SHSAT, an objective, competitive test open to every student in the city. Wai Wah Chin, the president of CACAGNY, explains why she’s determined to fight their moves, which she says discriminate against Asians …

The article reminds us of the results of this testing program:

In 1971, New York state mandated an admissions test to the city’s specialized high schools to ensure meritocratic admission. Called the SHSAT, the test knows no race or ethnicity; privilege and wealth count for nothing. All that matters is each student’s own ability.

Because of this, a Holocaust refugee who arrived in America with no English, no wealth and no privilege could take the test two years later, enter Stuyvesant and go on to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1981. His name: Roald Hoffmann.

Chancellor Carranza says no other high-school admission system in the country relies on a single test. Well, no other admission system produced 14 Nobel Prize winners in science either.

The article lists the Mayor’s solution to bringing diversity to the specialized high schools:

But de Blasio holds that meritocracy must have a predetermined, racially balanced outcome. So when East and South Asians get 50 percent of the offers to the specialized high schools while making up 16 percent of the students, he cries “Stuyvesant doesn’t look like New York City” and devises schemes to exclude them, his Asian Exclusion Act of the 21st century.

In one scheme, he arbitrarily takes 20 percent of the seats away from each Specialized High School to limit seats available to Asians. Then, he sets aside that 20 percent for students who took the SHSAT but failed to get into any of the eight schools, and applies eligibility criteria carefully crafted to exclude as many Asians as he can.

In another scheme, he brings back Harvard’s odious “geographic diversity,” limiting admission from each middle school to just 7 percent of its students, knowing full well that Asians are concentrated in a few middle schools.

These schemes impose a targeted racial balance. What’s more, they would lead to a significant portion of the student body being unprepared for the pace and levels at which the Specialized High Schools currently operate. Such social reverse engineering is the opposite of meritocracy.

If Mayor de Blasio is able to implement his ideas, it is a pretty safe bet that the number of Nobel Prize winning scientists coming out of these schools in the future will decrease drastically. I hope the CACAGNY wins their lawsuit.