Class Acts Give Lie to Race Card

Michael Goodwin, New York Post, February 16, 2011

Here we go again. In a winter ritual as familiar as snow, the results of specialized high-school admissions are sparking the usual hand-wringing and finger-pointing about a shortage of “minorities” and a lack of “diversity” at the best city schools.

With the announcement that black eighth-graders make up only 5 percent of students accepted to eight specialized schools next year and Hispanic students only 6 percent, fevered accusations run the range from prejudice to prejudice. New Yorkers once again are being lectured by the media and others that the results prove the deck is stacked in favor of the privileged, which is another way of saying “white.”

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The professional pot-stirrers can reach their conclusions only by dismissing the incredible phenomenon of Asian success. Last time I looked, Asians are nonwhite minorities, too, yet they are the superstars of New York education.

Many are also immigrants who come from poor families who do not speak English. All of which means city educrats should be celebrating their achievements and trying to duplicate them among other students.

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Though they represent only 15 percent of city students, Asian students, including those from China, Korea, India and Pakistan, already account for upwards of 60 percent of the population at top high schools, such as Stuyvesant and Bronx Science. The pattern continues with the latest test results.

Asians were 26 percent of the 28,211 students who qualified to take the 2011 competitive high-schools exam, but were 47 percent of those scoring well enough to get accepted.

Non-Hispanic whites were 15 percent of test takers, and 23 percent of those accepted. Blacks were 23 percent of test takers, and 5 percent of those accepted. Hispanics were 21 percent of test takers and 6 percent of those accepted.

The numbers are incomplete because the city doesn’t know the race and ethnicity of 18 percent of those accepted.

Still, we know enough to say there is a double standard when it comes to the reaction. In a more honest world, Asian success would be hailed as proof the American dream still lives. But to do so would be to demolish the “white privilege” argument, and so their success is an inconvenient fact to be ignored.

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[The] Asian experience in New York schools mirrors what is happening in many top colleges across the nation. {snip}

Make no mistake–the lopsided results show that too many black and Hispanic students are lagging their classmates. The consequences for the city could be dire because Hispanics, of different nationalities, now make up 40 percent of all students, and blacks 30 percent.

But lagging students of any racial group won’t be helped if we pretend their failure makes them victims of an unfair system. We should instead embrace the Asian educational miracle as an enduring testament to the merit of competition and the need to keep raising the bar for all students. After all, if they can overcome their many obstacles to make it here, why can’t others?

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