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Latino and Black Students' Attendance in NYC Elite Schools Has Declined

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First Posted: Oct 29, 2013 07:00 PM EDT
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The Latino and black student population has dwindled greatly in New York City's elite specialized high schools over the last five years, but the next elected mayor could reverse this.

NYC's elite schools administer a single specialized admission test to determine if students are accepted into their institution.  State law requires that each school follow those sanctions. However, only some schools test for admission: Stuyvesant High School, Bronx Science and Brooklyn High School. While reports say that the law does not affect some of NYC's other elites: High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at City College; High School of American Studies at Lehman College; Brooklyn Latin School; Queens High School for Science at York College, and Staten Island Technical High School -which means these schools aren't required to conduct the conceivably biased examination, which are encouraged by Mayor Bloomberg.

Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio may change the admission process completely if he is elected. Though, he hasn't decided what the proper approach would be.

"I think what he's searching for is how," said Lazar Treschan, youth policy director for Community Service Society. "We're trying to offer a real road map for what to do."

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Schools of similar prestige around the country take other things into consideration when it comes to admission; at the very least they review a student's school grades in addition to examination.

During the last admission cycle, a mere nine black students were accepted and only 24 Latino students out of 800 students.

Students took the exam over this past weekend, and the parent of one child shared her outrage. "It's mind-boggling that we're okay with it as a city," said Zakiyah Ansari, whose eighth-grade son took the exam Sunday. "Children of color in this city have not fared well. We know other states use multiple measures. Why don't we do that?"

De Blasio, who has shown support for the recently opened Pathways in Technology Early College High School, openly opposes the closure of larger struggling schools, so that they are replaced with selective theme-based schools, particularly when the school's exclusivity is at a detriment to children in its community.

He recently vowed to change the selection process for elite schools. He, like many, blames the tests for creating schooling dynamics that don't reflect the diversity in the city.  The two-hour tests have caused 14% discount in Latino and black acceptance this year alone.

The entrance examination was introduced in 1934. Stuyvesant High School developed it with the assistance of Columbia University. Eventually, the testing expanded, and became a requirement to the other specialized schools as they were founded.

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