Author Topic: Asian Groups See Bias in Plan to Diversify New York’s Elite Schools  (Read 636 times)

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Offline WTTCHMN

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Asian Groups See Bias in Plan to Diversify New York’s Elite Schools

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/05/nyregion/carranza-specialized-schools-admission-asians.html

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Parents to Sue City Over Elite High-School Admissions
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2018, 09:56:43 PM »
Parents to Sue City Over Elite High-School Admissions

By Leslie Brody
Nov. 13, 2018 9:18 p.m. ET

Parents at one of New York City’s highest-achieving middle schools voted Tuesday to forge ahead in a federal lawsuit to stop a city plan that some said could severely diminish their children’s chances of getting into coveted specialized high schools.

The Parent Teacher Organization at I.S. 187, known as the Christa McAuliffe School, took a voice vote of more than 90 members who came to a meeting to discuss the proposed suit. There was no opposition, and the crowd applauded the decision.

The selective, predominantly Asian school in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn is one of the top feeders to Stuyvesant High School and seven other specialized high schools.

Lawyers from the Pacific Legal Foundation, a California-based libertarian nonprofit funded by donors, said they would take the case pro bono as part of their mission to fight discrimination based on race.

They seek to challenge Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision last summer to change the criteria for entering a program called Discovery, which offers admission, as well as tutoring, to low-income students who just missed the test-score cutoff for entry to specialized high schools.

The mayor’s changes to Discovery are aimed at reducing the number of Asian students in the specialized high schools, Joshua Thompson, a lawyer for the foundation, said in an interview. “We’re concerned the expansion of Discovery is done for the purpose, and has the effect, of discriminating against Asian kids,” he said.

The expansion, the mayor says, would boost geographic and racial diversity. His plan would set aside 20% of seats at each specialized high school for Discovery students, who will come only from certain high-poverty schools.

Judging by city data, students at Christa McAuliffe, where about 44% of students faced economic hardship in the 2016-17 school year, would no longer be eligible for Discovery. Currently, that program is small and available to disadvantaged applicants citywide.

This push for litigation marks the latest twist in a citywide debate about whether—and how—to change the admissions system for prestigious high schools that determine entry by a single test score. Mr. de Blasio wants Albany lawmakers to eliminate the entrance exam, saying it has been an unfair barrier to black and Hispanic students. Backers of the test say it is the most objective criteria.

At this point, the change in Discovery is the only element of the mayor’s broader diversity vision being instituted and so subject to litigation. Vito LaBella, president of the Christa McAuliffe Parent Teacher Organization, said the Discovery change is discriminatory. “I do believe our children would no longer be allowed to partake in Discovery,” he said.

The mayor contends he can make this change because the 1971 law on admissions at these high schools allows for a Discovery program of some sort. “Our reforms will expand opportunity and raise the bar at our specialized high schools,” said Department of Education spokesman Will Mantell by email. “Our schools are academically stronger when they reflect the diversity of our City.”

As a result of expanding Discovery, the department says offers to black and Hispanic students across the specialized high schools would nearly double, to about 16% of offers, from 9% now.

At Christa McAuliffe, 205 of its eighth-graders last year aced the admissions test and got offers to specialized high schools for this fall. Under the mayor’s goal of giving seats to the top 7% of performers at each middle school citywide, judging by state test scores and course grades, only about 24 of its students would have gained entry.

With roughly 900 students, about 36% of Christa McAuliffe’s eighth-graders headed to Stuyvesant, 20% to Brooklyn Technical High School, and 20% to Staten Island Technical High School, according to city data for the 2016-17 school year.

That year, 67% of the school’s students were Asian, 26% were white, 6% were Hispanic and 1% were black.

Write to Leslie Brody at leslie.brody@wsj.com

 

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