Elite Schools Reflect Racial Realities

Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, March 25, 2019

More egalitarian foolishness in New York City.

There is nothing wrong with discrimination. “Discriminating” taste means good taste. An elite school discriminates against people who can’t meet standards. If an elite school admitted everyone, it wouldn’t be elite; discrimination makes it elite.

Stuyvesant High School, the most exclusive secondary school in New York City, offered admission to just seven black students out of 900 places next fall. Mainstream media are spouting the usual nonsense. Admission is based on a single standardized test, the SHSAT, but Janell Ross of NBC says the low crop of blacks “has sparked public outrage and raised more questions about the fairness of admissions standards for the city’s selective high-quality schools.” WCBS called the results “alarming,” and Mayor Bill de Blasio said it’s “not right” and “not fair.” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ view? “This is what injustice looks like.”

Injustice? Stuyvesant High School is 74 percent Asian, and whites are only 18 percent. This is particularly noteworthy because the student pool from which Stuyvesant draws is 70 percent black and Hispanic and only 15 percent white and 15 percent Asian. In other words, Asians are four times more likely than whites to pass the test and get in. Of course, the New York Times promoted its story with a picture of two white students in the foreground, with a mostly-Asian swarm behind them. Steve Sailer suggested the paper wanted to remind readers of the smirking “privileged” students from Covington Catholic High School.

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman explained that “white students generally have more means with which to prep for this [admissions test for elite schools], some doing it for years.” White students? Peter Kauffman, a former Hillary Clinton spokesman, pointed out the obvious: Most of the students are Asian. All the New York City selective schools that accept students based on the SHSAT admissions test are majority-minority—in some cases overwhelmingly Asian. Maggie Haberman’s response was a single word: “Cool.”

And “more means”? In June 2018, Richard Bernstein at RealClearInvestigations found that almost half of the students at Stuyvesant “qualify for free and subsidized lunches, a common measure of very modest financial circumstances.”

New York Times reporter Eliza Shapiro wrote that there can be only two possible reasons why there are so few blacks or Hispanics at Stuyvesant:

  • the test is flawed and not accurately capturing the best and brightest students, or
  • the test is fair, and the schools that are preparing these children are bad.

Of course, there are more likely possibilities. One could be cultural: Working-class Asian families invest in modestly priced test preparation courses for their children. The real explanation is that Stuyvesant’s student body reflects racial reality. A new article in Education Next found the achievement gap between white and black students has persisted and even increased in recent years. The races do not perform equally on standardized test, with whites and Asians consistently outperforming Hispanics and blacks. Asians do better than whites on both IQ and standardized tests, which makes it hard to believe tests are “culturally biased” in favor of whites.

Stuyvesant High School

At the same time, Asians have a built-in advantage. Even though they often outperform whites, no one complains about “Asian privilege.” This helps explain why, unlike whites, they have no qualms promoting their interests. They have repeatedly defeated attempts to implement replace merit-based admissions with race preferences. At a recent town hall in Queens, Asian parents shouted down speakers who called for more diversity. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez didn’t directly respond, instead declaring that “we are in this together” in a fight against an undefined ruling class.

Asians and blacks are not “in this together,” nor do vague allusions to white privilege solve the problem. The SHSAT is more open to poor Asian families than any other plausible system of admissions. “Whatever changes are made, Asian-Americans stand to lose a large number of the seats they hold,” writes Eliza Shapiro of the Times.

In The Nation, Gabriela Thorne demands that there must be “more access to test-prep programs for middle-school students.” Mayor de Blasio also said the test was rigged because not everyone can afford test prep. Yet “neither the expansion of free test prep for minority students nor a new plan to offer the specialized high school exam during the school day made a dent in the admissions numbers,” reports the New York Times.

What would replace the SHSAT? Some call for using middle school rank, but this would lead to unqualified students getting in over students from better schools. Others suggest different tests. The method is almost irrelevant; if standards are lowered, Stuyvesant will no longer be an elite institution and the best students will go elsewhere.

Even some crusading for more “diversity” admit this. Professor Christine Rossell, who helped implement the forced busing plan in Boston, says that any dramatic effort to diversify the top public schools creates “bright flight.” Motivated students go to private schools.

People who want to diversify Stuyvesant have a cargo-cult mentality. What makes Stuyvesant elite are the very smart students who go there, not the teachers. Somalis don’t become white Americans when they cross the border. Likewise, not-so-smart blacks and Hispanics admitted with lower standards would drag the school down.

“America’s educational woes just reflect our current demographic mix of students,” wrote Robert Weissberg in Bad Students, Not Bad Schools. Different races achieve at different rates. The best evidence suggests this is a biological reality. It would be shocking if Stuyvesant were different. No one can command different races to achieve at the same level any more than George W. Bush could with No Child Left Behind plan. Unfortunately, diversity fanatics are quite capable of destroying Stuyvesant—and the dreams of deserving students.

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Mr. Hood is a staff writer for American Renaissance. He has been active in conservative groups in the US.

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