Brown’s Lost Promise: New York City Specialized High Schools as a Case Study in the Illusory Support for Class-Based Affirmative Action

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.

Brown’s Lost Promise: Segregation & Affirmative Action In New York City Specialized High Schools

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.