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Old 10-26-2011, 12:25 PM
3 posts, read 7,768 times
Reputation: 12


Hello ~~

I am a social work student who learned something a bit shocking about the New York City specialized high school system.

I wanted to post what I learned and see whether people agree with me or not. Whether you agree or disagree, please respond to this thread!

There arecurrently 8 “specialized high schools” in New York City that we, the taxpayers, are funding. These are elite schools with advanced curricula.

In order to get into any of the specialized schools, a student needs to do especially well on one standardized test. This is a system that even the best colleges in America do NOT use. Indeed, this method of selection is called “high-stakes testing” and few educators would agree that it is a valid meansfor admission anywhere.

This system was established in 1972 and hasn't changed.

The “best” of these specialized high schools is considered to be Stuyvesant, and if we look at Stuyvesant we can see something problematic about the whole system of specialized high schools. High-stakes testing creates a system where students in the most diverse city in America are racially segregated from each other. For this reason alone the specialized system must be abandoned as just a fancy way to avoid following the Court ruling of Brown vs. the Board of Education.

For the 2010 academic year, the student body at Stuy was approximately 69.3% Asian and 25.7% Caucasian, 1.7% African American and 2.9% Hispanic.

The city's population in 2010 was 33% white (non-Hispanic), 23% black (non-Hispanic), 13% Asian. Hispanics of any race represented 29% of the population. (I am also Asian.)

Therefore statistics show that although 52% of New Yorkers are black and Hispanic and pay taxes for the public education system, only 4.6% of the students at Stuyvesant High School are black and Hispanic.

Basically the specialized system is geared to separate students based on race. White and Asian students get their own, “special” schools of remarkable quality, while black and Latino students receive racially segregated schools which are often dangerous.

There is clearly something wrong with a system of education that allows such racial segregation. An ex-mayor and an ex-school Chancellor have both stated that the high-stakes testing criteria forStuyvesant is wrong and racially biased. Our tax dollars should not be going to create a system of racial segregation in the field of education!

Is it right that Asian and White students do not study with Black and Latino students? What kind of message are we sending to these students?! Basically we are telling them that they are, racially, “better” than Blacks and Latinos and this is unacceptable. We are telling them it’s OK, in the name of “science” and “knowledge” to separate themselves from people of color.

In New York City this is wrong.

The Coleman Report on Equality of Education pointed out that the more dangerous a child’s neighborhood, and the poorer a child’s neighborhood, the less likely the child will be to do well in school. If we can bail out banks, we can bail out the inner city and provide safe, clean neighborhoods and meaningful jobs for black and Latino parents.

We need to eliminate these racially segregated specialized high schools and begin saving our outer boroughs for the sake of children of color in this city.

The State legislature has the power to cut funding to these “special” schools and to restructure them.

These are some folks in charge:

Catherine Nolan, Chairperson New York Assembly Education Committee

John Flanagan, Chairman New York Senate Education Committee

Governor Andrew Cuomo

The specialized school system looks like a pleasant and useful system to foster academic excellence, but in reality it is a disgraceful way to segregate children racially and to instill harmful racial attitudes into our young people.

If you disagree, however, please let me know! That's why I posted this in a forum.

Thank you ~~


Old 10-26-2011, 12:34 PM
Location: Manhattan
1,760 posts, read 3,563,655 times
Reputation: 2562
Everyone who wants into these specialized High Schools takes the same test correct? If White or Asian students take one version of the test and African American students take another version then yes, this would be racist.

I think the problem here is that unfortunately many African American students do not receive a decent education from the public school system up to the point that they take these tests--that's a separate issue.

In my opinion, its wrong to alter or lower the standards for one racial group in order to make a school more diverse--that does those students a disservice. Instead, we should tackle the hard problem which no one ever wants to do. That is, to try and raise the proficiency level of those students who are lagging behind.
Old 10-26-2011, 12:41 PM
Location: New York City
396 posts, read 1,059,060 times
Reputation: 372
Schools like Stuyvesant and Hunter require you to take placement tests in order to get accepted. I went to a private school (and was one of the few African-American students who attended) in the city and I had to pass a test as a kindergartner to get accepted and thank God I went to a k-12.

It is not that these schools are trying to keep a certain race out, it is that the NYC school system is based on tests. You don't pass those test, you don't get in. And the filtering starts as low as pre-school. You can't get into the best pre-school because you don't know your own birthday or how to spell your name, then you get placed into the other ones that don't act as a gateway into the better schools.

And no matter the race, if the child is not ready to be placed into an accelerated learning environment, I don't feel they should be placed there before they are prepped. It is like putting someone who can't pass a standard class into an AP class. Unless that student challenges themselves, they may fail.

I do agree with you however that students should all have the possibility to acquire a good education that will prepare them for college. And parents should also be held accountable to ensure that their child is well prepared for a good school and help them out with prepping for tests.

That's my biased 2cents.
Old 10-26-2011, 12:50 PM
2,532 posts, read 5,990,249 times
Reputation: 1088
You are Asian, and this is your opinion.

No one was complaining when most of the students that went to these schools were Jewish. If the Asian students are scoring the highest, then that is the way it is. Everybody else needs to catch up. Rather than these schools lower their standards there are other things that can be done.

First I know for a fact that students from LI, NJ go to these schools. The parents should have to bring copies of their federal and state tax returns to determine where they actually live. This would reduce maybe 5-10% of the current student population. However this doesn't mean that they would be replaced with Non-Asians.

Second, some Asian students have parents or relatives that work in highly specialized fields of science and math. Some cannot perform this work in the US, but have the knowledge. Especially for those that have the knowledge but are forced for various reasons to take other lower paying jobs outside of their area of expertise, why can't the city employ these knowledgable people to teach students in other areas of the city math and science courses from K-8, and from 9-12 in other city HS. So that other young people can gain this knowledge.

This may require different teaching techniques than are currently used, but are clearly not working. It may also require the hiring of translaters, however it would boost the future employability of many public school educated native NYer's that currently are being left behind in an increasing high tech world, because they lack the knowledge and skills in mathematics, and science.
Old 10-26-2011, 12:58 PM
Location: Sunset Park, Brooklyn
423 posts, read 1,131,532 times
Reputation: 227
Nah. I'm hispanic, poor and grew up in a low-income neighborhood and went to a middle school that was on the SURR list (school under review and registration or something like that) and I managed to get into Brooklyn Tech. Of course, Stuyvesant is a good 80 points higher than the Tech cutoff score but I wasn't too far from the Stuyvesant cutoff.

Anyways, this isn't racist. It has more to do with how the parents educate the children. Many chinese students that live in my neighborhood face the same struggles, same crappy schools and same low income but many manage to get in. Why? Saturday school and the strictness of their parents.
Old 10-26-2011, 01:02 PM
4,502 posts, read 11,968,160 times
Reputation: 4066
It would only be racist if they had different tests for each race group. All students are taking the SAME TEST. If you pass, you're in. If you don't, you're not in. You can't cry "racism" just because black/hispanic kids don't make up the percentage of students you want them to. If that's the case, then whites can cry racism, too, because there are so many Asians in those schools.
Old 10-26-2011, 01:05 PM
2 posts, read 5,682 times
Reputation: 56
I say no. I'm Black and graduated from Stuyvesant in 1985 (even then it was predominantly Asian), as did many of my Black friends. I knew others who passed the test for Stuy and Bk Tech but chose to go elsewhere for reasons like wanting to play basketball at Andrew Jackson, wanting to go to Bergtraum with her boyfriend, and not wanting to go to "that white school".

Everyone, regardless of race, takes the same exam. A big problem is and has always been that poor kids receive a poor education, leaving them unprepared for the specialized schools. And believe me, if you can't pass the test to get in, you really can't handle the workload. Those of any race who are prepared should not be held back.

But knowing this, at what point do we stop blaming the system and take responsibility for our own success or failure? I came out of one of the lowest performing schools back then. I had a library card, a strict mother and friends who also wanted to be somebody. I did what I had to do to get where I wanted to go - without the system.
Old 10-26-2011, 01:07 PM
Location: New York NY
4,260 posts, read 6,323,769 times
Reputation: 9043
The entire system is wacky, as the OP points out. NYC is the ONLY place in the country that admits students to its specialized high schools on the basis of a single test w/o consideration of anything else. No one else, not Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Philly, et al has such a rigid system. NYC isn't trying to purposelly keep balck and Latino kids out of these schools. But it has set up a system that effectively does that under the guise of "objectivity."

The problem here is not that the Asian kids who dominate and get in are not smart. They are, and have studied, sometimes for years, to pass this test. The problem is that while there are few "false positives" among the kids who take the test there are a whole lot of "false negatives," i.e. kids who are able to do academic work at a high level who are shut out -- and many of them, I believe, are black and Latino kids. Consideration of other metrics --grades, recommendations, considerations of socio-economic status, outside achievements, interviews, whatever --would probably result in broadening the ethnic diversity of thse schools w/o reducing academic quality. That has sure been the case at top univiersities and there's no reason to think it wouldn't be true at NYC public schools. MIT and Stanford do not choose only the students with the best SAT scores.

Yet the myth persisits that using anything other than test scores would "water down" academic quality. That idea got started here during the era of open adnmissions at CUNY, where unqualified students were let in and standards did fall for years. Legislators were fearful the same thing would happen at Stuy and the rest, so they passed a law that enshrined "the test" as the only admmisions critieria.

But there is a big space between letting in anybody with a pulse, and restriciting enrollment to top performers on a single high-stakes test. I too wish that NYC and NY State would find out what it is.

Last edited by citylove101; 10-26-2011 at 01:23 PM..
Old 10-26-2011, 01:35 PM
Location: The United States of Amnesia
1,362 posts, read 1,561,711 times
Reputation: 686
The kids who pass the test deserve to be there, it’s as simple as that.

But, this is a more complicated issue. Elitism is a system of separating the rich and the poor via racial, educational and economical ways. Rich neighborhoods always have better schools, safer neighborhoods, increase quality of life etc. compared to the poor neighborhoods. What's going on at stuy can't be fixed overnight since it touches on many aspects of life.

The kids attending Stuy most likely have; a better family infrastructure (i.e., the parents are involved in their children's life, the kids have a positive influence, etc.), a more school focused mindset, understand how the world “really” works, etc.

In order for a status quo to be established in regards to education. Parents will have to get involved in their children’s education and life. Parents must provide a positive influence in their children’s life (do not allow sports athletes, rappers, thugs, knucklehead kids, etc to be their influence). A system has to be created where retired and respected teachers can be consultants to active teachers (especially in the poor areas). The community must harass their representatives for new schools in areas where overcrowding exists. I could go on but I feel it’s hopeless. Since the dawn of time, humans have separated themselves from each other.
Old 10-26-2011, 01:42 PM
Location: New York, NY
651 posts, read 1,579,315 times
Reputation: 613
I'm not sure what cutting funding to these schools with accomplish. Everyone takes the same test to get in, it's not like they play drums to distract you. Plus, these tests are suppose to acknowledge what types of students can handle the course work in these specialized schools. If a student cannot pass the test, it's most likely they cannot handle the course load either.

I remember a study done years ago that compared how well NYC HS performed, versus the amount of funding they received. Turns out schools performed best when they had majority Asian and White students, and not because of the amount of funding. Thought that was interesting.
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