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.
Repeal of the 1971 Hecht-Calandra Act and transferring control of admissions to New York City’s specialized high schools to the City. The Hecht-Calandra Act made the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test the single metric that can be used to admit students to specialized high schools. By giving control of specialized high school admissions back to New York City, there are opportunities to move beyond the test as a determining factor, which has resulted in a lack of diversity at these schools.
The new effort, spearheaded by the advocacy group Teens Take Charge, comes on the heels of sweeping protests against racial injustice that advocates hope will shine new light on segregation in city schools.
“The recent protests really did show all of us racism is a really big issue and that we need to do better in improving integration in this city,” said William Diep, a 16-year-old Teens Take Charge member, and senior at Brooklyn Latin, one of the city’s specialized schools.
This new bill calls for the repeal of the Hecht-Calandra Act.
At present, there are nine specialized high schools in New York City, one of which – Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts – focuses on the arts. The other eight schools are The Bronx High School of Science, The Brooklyn Latin School, Brooklyn Technical High School, High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at the City College of New York, High School of American Studies at Lehman College, Queens High School for the Sciences at York College, Staten Island Technical High School, and Stuyvesant High School.
This paper gets a few of its core premises wrong. The SHSAT exam does NOT strongly predict academic performance nor ability. Papers put its validity at 20%. Which basically means it’s only predicting 20% of what makes a student successful. GPA comes in at about 40% as a comparison.
Unlike Mayor de Blasio’s plan, this Note’s proposal would preserve the SHSAT, for evidence shows that it accurately and strongly predicts academic success in high school. However, unlike the present system which relies solely on the exam for admission, my proposal would evaluate students based on four factors measuring academic performance: (1) SHSAT score; (2) GPA; (3) rank in eighth grade graduating class; and (4) rank among eighth graders citywide.
Another attack on NYC’s specialized high school diversity efforts. This is representing attorney Claude M. Millman’s ( Bronx Science ’81 Alumni ) second legal action against the SHSAT reform that I know of.
Previously he represented a coalition of anti-reform protesters in another SHSAT related matter in 2014.