The NAACP Legal Defense Fund has filed a complaint with the US. Department of Education stating that the admissions exam for New York City’s eight elite public schools discriminates against black and Latino students. Among those schools is Stuyvesant High School and Bronx High School of Science, which Reuters points out, have both taught Nobel Prize winners, celebrities and even U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
The NAACP says the admissions process is unfair to everyone because it disregards all other factors except for the test. At Stuyvesant, there are 967 incoming students but only 32 are Latino and 19 are African American. More than two-thirds of the school population is Asian.
Quoting the complaint, NBC local news reports, “The admissions policy for the specialized high schools does not fully capture any student’s academic merit or his or her potential.” An investigation by the US Department of Education could find a violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which could lead to a withholding of federal funds.
A statement from the city says that “state law requires” that entry to these schools be based “solely” on this test. But, “[t]he Department of Education has launched several initiatives to improve diversity, and last year, more black and Hispanic students were offered a seat in one of our specialized high schools than in the past two years.”
A former Stuyvesant student told Reuters that in the Asian community, parents are telling their kids about that test from an early age and the education system should do more to make sure other communities have the same knowledge. Getting all students into good schools should be a priority of the nation’s public school system, which is why so many parents are calling for education reform and greater access to charter schools.