Being black at Stuyvesant: Two students on what it’s like for African Americans at the specialized high school

Just because students are intelligent enough to pass a test doesn’t mean they understand people who might be ethnically, racially or culturally different.


That’s what happened to Gordon in his freshman biology class when his lab partner blamed him for the AIDS virus. Or when he was told to “go back to Africa” because he disagreed with some of his peers on the merits of the Specialized High Schools Admission Test (SHSAT).


And both of us have repeatedly heard something along the lines of, “Black people don’t care about education.”


While these stories may seem shocking or anachronistic, they are not unique among Stuy’s black and Latino students.

NYC selective high school admissions uproar a symptom of a much bigger problem

Multiple studies have found no difference in college enrollment, college quality or graduation rates of kids who just barely met the test score cutoff for selective public schools like Stuyvesant and those who just barely missed the mark and then attended more ordinary public high schools, Valant said.


Valant would like to see selective schools drop their test-in requirements and instead award admission to a set number of top-performing students from every district or system middle school. The resulting classes would be more diverse and formed with anobjective, open access measure of long-term performance.

Stuyvesant Has 29 Black Students Out of 3,300. How Do They Feel?

The students — members of the school’s Black Students League and Aspira, the Hispanic student organization — recalled painful memories of having heard racist comments behind their backs at school. They reflected on their shared sense of alienation. They said they worried that adults would allow inequities in the system to persist.
“It’s frustrating to see that nobody wants to do anything, until it’s like, ‘Oh no, nobody got it in,’” said Katherine Sanchez, 17, whose parents are from the Dominican Republic.

Only 7 Black Students Got Into Stuyvesant, N.Y.’s Most Selective High School, Out of 895 Spots

Lawmakers considering Mr. de Blasio’s proposal have faced a backlash from the specialized schools’ alumni organizations and from Asian-American groups who believe discarding the test would water down the schools’ rigorous academics and discriminate against the mostly low-income Asian students who make up the majority of the schools’ student bodies. (At Stuyvesant, 74 percent of current students are Asian-American.) The push to get rid of the test, which requires approval from the State Legislature, appears all but dead.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/18/nyregion/black-students-nyc-high-schools.html

It’s the peer effect, stupid: What makes schools like Stuyvesant great? It’s not test-based admission, but a broader culture of excellence

We’ve conducted more than 70 interviews (and counting) with adult alumni of Stuyvesant High School who graduated between 1946 and 2013 for a book we’re working on called “The Peer Effect.” (We both graduated from Stuyvesant in the 1980s.) Many of the people we’ve interviewed grew up poor, and/or were black, Latino or Asian. Some of the graduates we interviewed from earlier years were from poor or working-class Jewish families. We also interviewed a lot of former students who were brought up in white, middle-class families.

How a Thirteen-Year-Old Girl Smashed the Gender Divide in American High Schools


The anniversary of de Rivera’s battle comes amid another controversy about diversity at Stuyvesant. The school accepts students based entirely on an entrance exam, and the result is that few black and Latino students are admitted. (Only ten black students were admitted to Stuyvesant’s incoming class last year.) Last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed eliminating the test for all of the specialized public schools in the city and offering admission to the top seven per cent of students in each district, insuring more diverse enrollment.

Whose Side Are Asian-Americans On?

Hsin, the sociology professor, told me, “If you were to put aside any concerns about goals of diversity at all and you just wanted to come up with mechanism for identifying the most talented individuals to be admitted to specialized high schools, you would never come up with the admissions policy you have now.” Grades, which are repeated measures over time, are considered better indicators of academic acumen. It’s also been shown that they are better than standardized test scores when it comes to predicting success for black and Latinx students.

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.”
[…]
But then I talked to my classmates and saw other sides to the issue.

Stuyvesant High School Black Alumni Diversity Initiative: Letter To Chancellor Carranza

Below is an open letter to Chancellor Richard A. Carranza from the Stuyvesant High School Black Alumni Diversity Initiative (SHSBADI). SHSBADI was formed in 2010 to address the declining enrollment of Black and Latinx students at Stuyvesant and the city’s other specialized high schools.

The letter below outlines SHSBADI’s recommendations for ways to increase the number of Black and Latinx students at Specialized High Schools along with their thoughts on the pending State Legislation (S7983, A10427 and S8503) to address this issue. 

Everyone needs help getting into Stuyvesant: What it really takes

Now that I mention it, I don’t think I was all that good at the test questions at the beginning. But my mother, a math teacher, had a blue shoulder bag of “manipulables”: toys, essentially, that she used to explain concepts in geometry and probability. The blue bag was always in the foyer, as if she might need it at the last minute while escaping a fire or running late for work.

My father, who taught English, discussed the books I was reading, even (despite his love of realism) the Star Wars spin-offs.