the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) submitted an amicus brief to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Boston Parent Coalition for Academic Excellence Corp. v. School Committee of the City of Boston. In its brief, the Association presented published position statements, articles, and policy positions in support of the Boston School Committee’s efforts to remove barriers of access and ensure greater equity for all students in the admissions process for its three exam schools.
Appellee appears to recognize that controlling precedent foreclosed a findingNAACPLDF Amicus
of discriminatory intent, but nevertheless invited the district court to misapply the
law in furtherance of its attempt to change the law to prevent schools across the
country from removing known barriers to opportunity and adopting race-neutral,
research-based reforms to promote equality.
Using past results as a baseline is not only improper, it is woefully misleading.
As the district court in Boston Parent correctly noted, when a racial group has been
significantly overrepresented in the prior system, “nearly any changes to the
admissions process will likely result in some reduction, if only from the law of
The 10 percent rule was enacted in response to a 1996 federal appeals court decision, which struck down an affirmative action program at UT-Austin’s law school. But it quickly took on a political life of its own. As a candidate for president, and later as president, Bush touted the 10 percent plan as a conservative alternative to affirmative action programs that explicitly took account of race when deciding who to admit.
The idea behind the plan was that it would open the doors of Texas’s best public universities to students at predominantly Black or Latino high schools, many of whom historically were unlikely to attend places like UT-Austin.…
separate is inherently unfree. As this Article uniquely clarifies, segregation deprives schoolchildren of freedom to become equal citizens and freedom to learn in democratic, integrated, and transformative settings. We must name and reclaim these positive, social, emancipatory freedoms—envisioned by the framers of state constitution education clauses, developed by early progressives, reflected in the case law, and applied in “freedom schools” and by Southern Black teachers during the civil rights era.Joshua E. Weishart
Even if the SHSAT was an educational necessity, it would still violate disparate impact regulations if there was an alternative available that achieved the same objective with a less discriminatory impact. The NAACP LDF found that a multi-measured approach to admissions based on quantitative and qualitative portions of an application would be equal to or more effective than the SHSAT and would have a smaller discriminatory impact. While middle school grades could be a major component of an application, “teacher recommendations, proven leadership skills, a commitment to community service,” and demographic profiles could be used to assess a candidate’s academic and individual capabilities.
“The system reproduced by the New York City public schools is fundamentally one of caste: an artificial, graded ‘ranking of human value that sets the presumed supremacy of one group against the presumed inferiority of other groups on the basis of,’ in the United States, race,” the suit says.
This system, the complaint says, is accomplished by effectively setting groups apart at an early age and perpetuating those divisions.
“Consequently, the demographics of the City’s G&T programs reflect disparate familial resources, enrolling predominantly white and certain Asian students,” the suit says.
If the DOE wants to get rid of the test, it can, at least for the majority of specialized schools. At five of eight specialized high schools, the City has the sole authority to end the use of the test for enrollment.
In its place, the City could develop a more equitable model of assigning children to excellent schools—holistic assessments of their capabilities and potential—or they could drop academic tracking altogether, and ensure that every high school class has a diverse blend of needs and talents.
But even if the diversity rationale falls out of favor with the U.S. Supreme Court, New York City’s revamped Discovery program should not. The law that created the program and the manner in which it is applied are class-conscious, not race-conscious. And if the conservative members of the Court ultimately do rule against the City in McAuliffe, they will have demonstrated in plain sight that their support for class-based affirmative action was a rhetorical smokescreen, after all.
The points made in this article cannot be overstated. The Hecht-Calandra Act may be an unknown, obscure law to many Americans, including New Yorkers. But this law may be the small crack in the armor that allows conservative legal groups to defeat all race-conscious equity schemes.
McAuliffe PTO is just the latest federal case involving Asian American plaintiffs (though funded and orchestrated by conservative legal strategists Edward Blum and the Pacific Legal Foundation) alleging that racial diversity efforts in admissions discriminate against them, and we can expect more such cases to be filed in the future.
New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the United States. However, its schools remain some of the most segregated. The crown jewel of the City’s public education system, Specialized High Schools, are among the nation’s top public institutions. But in a city where over 60 percent of children are Black or Latinx, less than 10 percent of the students admitted into these prestigious schools come from these communities. Due to a 1971 New York state law, admission into the Specialized High Schools is granted solely on the basis of a standardized exam, the Specialized High School Admissions Test, which students can opt to take during their eighth grade.