In recent weeks, we’ve reported on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed changes to the admissions practices of the city’s specialized schools. For those not familiar with NYC’s specialized schools, you may be familiar with the names of two of the most prominent of such institutions: Stuyvesant and Bronx Science. In short, Mayor de Blasio believes that the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT), which is currently used as an important criterion for admission to the schools, unfairly disadvantages African American and Latinx students. In fact, by assigning such clout in admissions to the SHSAT, it’s leading to the underrepresentation of these groups at the schools as well as the overrepresentation of Asian Americans. So, basically, it’s the inverse of the Harvard lawsuit in which a group (Students For Fair Admissions) is suing Harvard for allegedly discriminating against Asian American applicants. But while we know where Mayor de Blasio stands on the SHSAT, we figured we’d highlight for our loyal readers where some other folks stand on this hot button issue. It may come as a surprise.
A Powerful Voice of Dissent Against the SHSAT
It would be wrong to presume that Asian Americans stand in unity against Mayor de Blasio and his proposal to do away with the SHSAT — even though Asian American applicants do well on this test in such large numbers (as evidenced by the admission of so many Asian American applicants to NYC’s specialized schools). In fact, in a powerfully written recent editorial in “Crain’s,” nine Asian American alumni of some of NYC’s specialized schools, publicly support scrapping the test in favor of other measures (like grades) that will not so clearly disadvantage underrepresented minorities.
In their editorial entitled “Asian Americans should embrace reform of specialized high school admissions” for “Crain’s,” these alumni express their solidarity with the African American and Latinx community. They write, “Today, New York City’s students attend our nation’s most segregated school system, and its specialized high schools have become a glaring symbol of how that system operates. But when Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed to amend those schools’ admissions criteria, some perceived his plan as biased against Asian Americans. As alumni of specialized high schools, we disagree and call on fellow Asian Americans to stand in solidarity with the city’s black and Latinx communities to create a more just and integrated school system for all of our children. As Asian Americans, we must not forget our long history of shared struggle with other people of color. Asian Americans not long ago faced immigration exclusion, denial of land ownership and other rights, racial segregation, and internment camps. Political movements spearheaded by black activists turned the tide. Indeed, Brown v. Board of Education (1954) effectively overturned a unanimous 1927 ruling that allowed a white school to deny entry to a child of Chinese ancestry…These moments in history remind us that all people of color benefit from the collective civil rights fight for racial justice.”
We at Ivy Coach commend these Asian American alumni of NYC’s specialized schools for so eloquently voicing their opinion on this hot button issue, even if it doesn’t directly serve the short-term interests of Asian American applicants to these schools. As these alumni see it, they stand in solidarity with the African American and Latinx community in the hope of creating a “most just and integrated school system for all” in the future. It’s a powerful message indeed, one that can foster positive change for our schools for many years to come.
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