Friday, August 18, 2006

Race at Stuyvesant

Fewer non-Asian minority students are getting into Stuyvesant, etc., according to this NYT article. Since Stuyvesant is, I believe, majority-Asian and not majority-white, it's hard for me to see what makes the school's admissions policy racist. New York is far more black and Latino than Stuyvesant, but it's also far less Asian. This makes a difference--if the school all of a sudden became majority Latino, but still had almost no blacks, would that be evidence of racism? To what extent does the school need to mirror which NYC population? The population that sends its children to public school, or the overall population? Also important, the wealthiest and, uh, whitest in NYC rarely consider any public school for their children. But I agree that the playing field is not level, that much needs to be done so that pre-high school education allows the whole city a fair shot at getting in.

Is there a problem with the racial makeup of these schools, and if so, are the selective high schools themselves responsible for finding the solution? Regardless of what you think, this argument is completely unpersuasive:

Gary Orfield, director of the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University, called the schools’ racial compositions “absurd,” saying, “I don’t think someone would want to hire somebody just on the basis of a test score, and we don’t admit them to a great college on the basis of a test score, and we shouldn’t admit them to a great high school on that basis.”

On what basis would you hire a 13-year-old for anything? Should the test be one of babysitting ability, or of how much lemonade sold? Students taking this test are simply too young to have accomplished much. Moreover, a gazillion kids take this test each year, and this is in a public, not private, system, so who's going to pore over (let alone send off) multipart application packets? Potential is all that can be measured, and it must be measured efficiently. Are junior high school grades really all that much more telling? I would imagine they say very little about future success. The only way to make Stuyvesant and others "racially balanced" at the entrance level (as opposed to reforming the pre-high school system and expanding opportunities for underprivileged kids, as with the Specialized High School Institute) would be to keep the test but throw some non-Constitutional racial quotas into the mix.


sewlow said...

asians are smarter. duh.

sewlow said...

comment visible after blog owner approval? that's not blogalicious.

Anonymous said...

Of course the reasons that US colleges now take a more rounded view of applicants has a lot to do with affirmative action. First it was keeping the number of Jews down at harvard etc. than it was keeping the number of blacks etc. up. In most foreign university systems people do get into college on the basis of a few tests.