It’s not clear how long New York City’s public schools will be closed due to COVID-19. But in a sign that life goes on, acceptance letters from the city’s public high schools are out.
Nearly 80,000 eighth graders got a high school match on Thursday. This year the Department of Education eliminated the second-round application process, and instead put students who didn’t get their first-choice school on a waitlist.
Once again, a small fraction of offers to the city’s specialized high schools went to black and Latinx students: this year it was 11%, though black and Latinx students make up around 70% of the school system. More than half the offers went to Asian students and a quarter to white students.
The specialized schools depend on a single standardized test for admission and have been at the heart of a contentious debate over equity and integration in the public school system. The de Blasio administration’s plan to eliminate the Specialized High School Admissions Test sparked intense conflict between those who claimed it demonstrated merit and those who said it segregated schools.
It particularly inflamed tensions between many members of the Asian community and Schools Chancellor Carranza who has been outspoken in his opposition to the test. Mayor de Blasio has backed away from the plan to eliminate the SHSAT, which would require a change in state law. But a group of protestors continue to trail the chancellor.
Without any significant policy change to specialized high school admissions, the results this year were largely unchanged from recent years. At Stuyvesant High School, the most competitive of the group, the numbers remained stark.
Last year, seven black students got into Stuyvesant; this year it’s up to 10. The number of Latinx students accepted was down to 20 from 33 last year. The number of Asian students admitted this year was 524, compared to 587 last year. White students: 133 admitted this year, compared to 166 last year. That’s out of 766 offers.
The de Blasio administration continues to substantially increase more seats for students from low-income families who score right below the admissions cut-off and attend a summer prep program called Discovery. This year, 20 percent of seats at each of the specialized high schools will be reserved for those students for a total of 800 seats. That’s up from approximately 500 seats last year and 250 seats the year before.
In a statement, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said he still supported modifying the single-test admissions for the select high schools.
“Diversity in our specialized high schools remains stagnant, because we know a single test does not capture our students’ full potential. I am hopeful we’ll move towards a more equitable system next year,” he said.
Sophie Mode, a Millennium High School student and member of Teens Take Charge, said her group is “outraged” by the lack of diversity in the specialized high schools. But she said her group is focused on the segregation of high schools beyond just the specialized schools.
“At a time when both the importance of our public school system and its inequities have become so clear, the latest high school admissions results remind us that we need bold action from adult leaders to address segregation and inequity holistically,” she said.
The student groups Teens Take Charge and IntegrateNYC have been organizing a boycott to press school leaders to get rid of all selective admissions at high schools—including test scores, grades, attendance, and interviews—saying those “screens” are discriminatory and perpetuate segregation.
“We are told to wait and to be patient, but another class of students is entering segregated high schools while adults play politics with our futures,” she said.
This content was originally published here.