Why I Support Reforming New York City’s Elite High School Admissions

The usage of examples of Asian success to justify our current high school system harms all communities of color. This rhetoric reduces the Asian American community to a monolith by focusing on a subset of its population. Educational inequity affects all minority groups, and we need to recognize the ways in which it comes into play among Asian Americans. Our current high school admissions model might appear to favor Asian students—and sure, there are definitely students that benefit from it—but the pushback against reform, couched in praise for industrious minority families, is hurting and dividing the Asian American community as well as minorities as a whole.

She got into one of NYC’s top high schools. Four years later, she wishes she hadn’t

“I started to slowly realize that a lot of these kids had kind of been sheltered from other races of people to the point where they didn’t really know how to be racially sensitive,” said Yarde, 17, who graduated Monday. “It seemed like kids were either automatically intimidated by me, or they immediately undermined me.”

Wint attended Stuyvesant when she was a student in the late 2000s but left the school her junior year, a decision she attributes to the overt racism she experienced there.

Hey DOE: Revamp the SHSAT The current exam doesn’t accurately measure ability

Part of the reason for this disparity is that many kids don’t find out about specialized high schools and the SHSAT early enough, if at all. “In my middle school, my class didn’t know there was an SHSAT. We were considered the dumb class because we didn’t test well in elementary,” says Angie, currently a senior at Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artists. She is black and Latina. “However, the higher performing class got to take it as well as the prep they needed.”

Nix this admissions test: A recent Stuyvesant grad makes the case against the SHSAT

Student argument against the SHSAT

Defenders of the current system, hailing the test as establishing a level playing field, argue that if more black and Latino students truly wanted to attend specialized high schools, they could just study harder. I have repeatedly heard my classmates champion this mindset, implying that black and Latino students are not as hardworking, and, even more disturbingly, not as smart as their Asian counterparts.

The SHSAT, however, does not measure work ethic or intelligence, but a student’s ability to answer over 100 tedious multiple choice questions in under three hours.