New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, widely considered to be New York City’s most unpopular mayor since the very nice but largely ineffective Mayor David Dinkins, is taking some heat for proposing changes to the admissions policies of certain elite New York City high schools. And why? Because his proposed changes, many argue, would make it more difficult for Asian American students to earn admission to New York City’s most prestigious specialized schools — schools like Stuyvesant High School and The Bronx High School of Science. So we figured we’d examine today the merits of both arguments and let our readers decide for themselves.
A Call for Better Representation of Underrepresented Minorities at NYC Specialized High Schools
Mayor de Blasio isn’t wrong that schools like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science can and must do more to admit more African American and Latino young people from across the City of New York. As Roger Clegg writes in “National Review” in a piece entitled “‘Too Many Asian Americans’: Bill de Blasio Edition,” “New York City has some famous selective high schools, such as Stuyvesant and the Bronx Science, that determine admission solely by scores on the Specialized High School Admissions Test. The result is a politically incorrect mix of students at these schools — not many blacks and Latinos, some whites, and lots and lots of Asian Americans — and this makes Mayor Bill de Blasio sad.”
Clegg continues, “He wants, in particular, more black and Latino kids at these schools, and of course this means fewer of the others, particularly Asian Americans. And so he wants to get rid of that darn test. Now, no selection system is perfect, and one can certainly argue that in theory it would be good to take other factors into account besides a student’s score on just one test, grades being the most obvious example. But there are also many advantages to the current system that will be lost if it is changed: its simplicity, objectivity, and transparency.”
Some Asian Americans Up in Arms Over Proposed Changes to Admissions Policies at NYC Specialized Schools
Take a jaunt around Stuyvesant or Bronx Science after school lets out and it’s hard not to notice the high percentage of Asian Americans who attend these elite specialized schools. And this isn’t new — it’s been the case for many years. Heck, we’d know. At Ivy Coach, we’ve been helping many Asian American students from Stuyvesant and Bronx Science earn admission to the colleges of their dreams for over a quarter of a century. In his piece advocating for keeping “the darn test,” Clegg argues that admitting a higher percentage of African American and Latino students would invariably lead to a drop in the percentage of Asian American admits. And while we are all for the specialized schools weighing additional factors in the admissions process, we think his reasoning with respect to the impact of the proposed policy change on the percentage of Asian American students admitted to the schools is sound. When one increases the percentage of a new group, the percentage of the old group would need to decrease. If p, then q. There are only so many slices of a pizza pie.
But Asian Americans Can Still Earn Admission In High Numbers Even If Proposed Changes Take Effect
In highly selective college admissions, Asian Americans do indeed face discrimination. We’ve been writing about this unjust discrimination for many years from atop our soapbox in college admissions. But they don’t face discrimination simply on account of the fact that colleges weigh more factors in the admissions process than the SAT or ACT alone. They face discrimination, in large part, because Asian American applicants so often present the same or similar profile to admissions offices. While it’s not right that people stereotype, while it’s not right that people make decisions based on biases, it is how our brains are wired and too many Asian American applicants do themselves no favor in the admissions process by playing into these stereotypes. So if Mayor de Blasio’s proposed changes to the admissions policies of New York City’s elite specialized schools do end up going through, there is a remedy. Asian Americans can absolutely earn admission — in large numbers — if additional criteria is added to the process…if they play their cards right.