State Senators John Liu (D-Bayside) and Jessica Ramos (D-East Elmhurst) were in Manhattan Thursday addressing the new findings on the lack of diversity in specialized high schools.
This comes days after data released by the city’s Department of Education on March 18 depicted that there were even less Latino and black students accepted to the eight elite high schools that only accept pupils through a single exam, despite Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to increase diversity in those institutions.
“The lack of diversity in our specialized high schools and schools citywide remains controversial and emotional, and the plan put forth by the City has only made matters worse,” said Liu, the chairman of the city’s Education Committee. “What we need is open-mindedness and open dialogue in order to build a consensus for a plan going forward.”
In 2018, de Blasio proposed overhauling the admissions requirement for the elite schools by admitting the top seven percent of students from middle schools, using middle school class rank, looking at standardized test scores and setting aside seats to 20 percent of seats to low-income students who just missed the mark to attend the specialized high school they wanted. However, he recommended these changes without input from constituents leading to some backlash from the Asian American community.
In 2019, Asian Americans made up nearly 51.1 percent of those accepted to specialized schools down from last year, which was 51.7 percent. Only 4 percent of black students were accepted, which is down from 4.1 percent compared to last year. Latino students saw a small bump in admissions from 6.3 percent to 6.6 percent. White students saw a slightly more significant increase of 28.5 percent from 26.5 percent last year. Native Americans saw an increase of 10.8 percent from 9.8 percent last year, according to the DOE.
Liu wants to do more to involve communities to create diversity in elite schools.
“Through our community forums, we will solicit, facilitate, aggregate, and deliberate the concerns and suggestions of school officials, educators, parents, activists, and all stakeholders. I have every confidence that this issue, however controversial, can unite rather than divide communities,” said Liu.
Ramos is backing up his efforts.
“I am joining Senator Liu today to call for increased conversation around the issue of school diversity in New York City’s specialized high schools,” said Ramos. “Our black and brown children are not being accepted into specialized high schools at the rate they should be, and we need to accept that one test cannot possibly capture the potential of each student. I am looking forward to having more conversations about this issue with my colleagues, parents, and students.”