By Julissa Catalan
New York City eighth-graders learned this week which specialized public high schools they will attend this fall, but nearly all of the students who got into the city’s eight top-tier (“specialized”) schools were either white or Asian.
The New York City Department of Education says that 84 percent of the 77,043 applicants got into one of their top five choices, including 45 percent who got into their first-choice school. But of the 5,096 students admitted to the eight top-tier schools, only 5 percent are Black, while 7 percent are Latinoeven though Latinos make up 40 percent of NYC public school students and Blacks account for 30 percent.
A separate admission process to the city’s eight top-tier schools requires a Specialized High Schools Admissions Test; this year, about 28,000 students took the test. The city also has a ninth specialized school, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, which requires an audition as well as a review of academic records.
At Stuyvesant High School, a prestigious specialized high school, only seven Black students made the cut, while only three Black students were admitted into the elite High School of American Studies at Lehman College.
Carmen Farina, New York City Schools Chancellor, vowed to address this issue. “We must do more to reflect the diversity of our city in our top-tier schoolsand we are committed to doing just that,” she said. “In the coming months we will be looking at ways to address the gap that has left so many of our Black and Latino students out of specialized high schools.
As part of his campaign, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also vowed to change the criteria so that test results aren’t the only factor in the admissions process. De Blasio is currently in the midst of a heated debate with charter-school advocate Eva Moskowitz, but he has declared that his decisions are always based upon the “best interest of all students.”
For the nonspecialized schools, this marked the ninth consecutive year that more than 80 percent ofeighth-graders got into one of their top five picks; the rate last year was also 84 percent.
The application process consisted of students’ ranking their top choices, up to 12 high schools. Ten percent did not get a match at all and will have the opportunity to reapply to programs with available spots remaining during the second round of admissions. This is also open to students who are unhappy with their school match.
After the second round, students and parents can appeal with valid reasoning, such as a lengthy commute.