Why Are There So Few Black Students at NYC’s Specialized High Schools?
The New York Times ran a fascinating article on NYC’s flagship specialized public school Stuyvesant High School, and its dwindling number Black and Latino students.
3,295 students go to Stuyvesant; yet only 40 of them are Black. Black students make up 1.2 percent of the student body, while Latinos are just 2.4 percent.
Admission to Stuyvesant is based solely on a candidates scores on an entrance exam; race and ethnicity are not considered. But one has to wonder if more should be done to attract a more diverse student body, or to least make sure everyone is even being made aware of the entrance exam at all, not to mention the many (oftentimes expensive) tools and resources of which many canditates take advantage to better their chances of admission.
“No one claims that the disparity is caused by overt discrimination. But in a school that is devised to attract the best of the best, parents and educators alike find the demographics troubling. It has become a question of perception as to who belongs.
The school’s parent coordinator, Harvey Blumm, said that when he visited middle schools whose enrollments were overwhelmingly black and Latino, it was not uncommon to find students who had never heard about the specialized high school exam; or to meet students who had signed up for the exam, but had never thought of taking a practice test or prep course — something common among white and Asian students; or to have guidance counselors tell him that Stuyvesant ‘isn’t for our kids.’”
In the case of 17 year-old senior Rudi-Ann Milller, being Black at Stuyvesant has been an alienating experience. As president of the Black Student League she has tried to build the club’s membership and organize cultural events, but enthusiasm and attendance are extraordinarily hard to come by.
“As part of Black History Month, the league screened an hourlong documentary, ‘Slavery and the Law,’ which chronicles the status of blacks from colonial times through the civil rights era. There were 100 chairs in front of the pull-down screen at Stuyvesant’s sixth-floor library; 15 students showed up.
‘We’ve just never had the numbers to make it work,’ Rudi lamented.”
Were you one of very few African Americans at your high school or college?
Should more be done to attract Black and Latino students to schools like Stuyvesant?
Sound off below!