Once again, tiny numbers of Black and Latino students received offers to attend New York City’s elite public high schools.
By Eliza Shapiro
After a year in which the pandemic shined a harsh spotlight on the stark inequities in New York City’s school system, the city announced Thursday that, once again, only tiny numbers of Black and Latino students had been admitted into top public high schools. The numbers represent the latest signal that efforts to desegregate those schools while maintaining an admissions exam are failing.
Only 9 percent of offers made by elite schools like Stuyvesant High School and Bronx High School of Science went to Black and Latino students this year, down from 11 percent last year. Only eight Black students received offers to Stuyvesant out of 749 spots, and only one Black student was accepted into Staten Island Technical High School, out of 281 freshman seats.
Over half of the 4,262 offers this year went to Asian students. The schools have enormous significance for thousands of low-income Asian-American students who attend them, many of them immigrants or the children of immigrants. Efforts to change the admissions system have been seen by some as disregarding the accomplishments of those vulnerable students. Accusations of bias from Asian-American New Yorkers have made the debate over whether to keep the exam as the sole means of entry into the schools extremely fraught.
Though Black and white students made up the same percentage of test takers — about 18 percent each — less than 4 percent of Black students received offers, compared with nearly 28 percent of white students, a clear sign that having large numbers of Black students take the exam is not leading to more equitable outcomes.
The admissions exam was given last fall amid the pandemic, with 4,300 fewer students sitting for the test compared with the previous year.
The numbers are a grim symbol of the entrenched inequality that New Yorkers are confronting as the city begins to emerge from the pandemic. A year of profoundly disrupted learning for the city’s roughly 1 million students may make it even more challenging to address the lack of diversity in the specialized schools, though city officials are just beginning to understand the academic toll of what will be roughly 18 months of remote learning for many city students.
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