Posted on May 4, 2021

Only 8 Black Students Are Admitted to Stuyvesant High School

Eliza Shapiro, New York Times, April 29, 2021

After a year in which the pandemic shined a harsh spotlight on the stark inequities in New York City’s school system, the city announced Thursday that, once again, only tiny numbers of Black and Latino students had been admitted into top public high schools. The numbers represent the latest signal that efforts to desegregate those schools while maintaining an admissions exam are failing.

Only 9 percent of offers made by elite schools like Stuyvesant High School and Bronx High School of Science went to Black and Latino students this year, down from 11 percent last year. Only eight Black students received offers to Stuyvesant out of 749 spots, and only one Black student was accepted into Staten Island Technical High School, out of 281 freshman seats.

Over half of the 4,262 offers this year went to Asian students. The schools have enormous significance for thousands of low-income Asian-American students who attend them, many of them immigrants or the children of immigrants. Efforts to change the admissions system have been seen by some as disregarding the accomplishments of those vulnerable students. Accusations of bias from Asian-American New Yorkers have made the debate over whether to keep the exam as the sole means of entry into the schools extremely fraught.

Though Black and white students made up the same percentage of test takers — about 18 percent each — less than 4 percent of Black students received offers, compared with nearly 28 percent of white students, a clear sign that having large numbers of Black students take the exam is not leading to more equitable outcomes.

The admissions exam was given earlier this year amid the pandemic, with 4,300 fewer students sitting for the test compared with the previous year.


The numbers of Black and Latino students at the specialized schools are declining despite enormous focus on this issue over the last several years. Mayor Bill de Blasio has unsuccessfully lobbied the State Legislature to eliminate the admissions exam and replace it with a system that admits top performers at each city middle school.


Specialized school alumni have expressed dismay at the dwindling number of Black and Latino students. The percentage of Black and Latino enrollment at Stuyvesant, Bronx Science and Brooklyn Technical High School has hit its lowest point in the city’s recorded history in the last 10 years, a trend that has accelerated during the last several years in particular.

On Thursday, Dr. Uché Blackstock, a Black Stuyvesant graduate, said on Twitter, “I grieve for my high school. These numbers are abysmal.” She added: “The test has got to go.”


Aside from his effort to overhaul specialized school admissions, Mr. de Blasio has not made school integration of the roughly 1,800 schools he does control a top priority during his two terms as mayor. Disagreements between the mayor and Richard A. Carranza, the former schools chancellor, about how aggressively to pursue desegregation policies helped prompt Mr. Carranza’s resignation earlier this year.

The city’s new chancellor, Meisha Porter, called on the state to eliminate the exam in a statement Thursday. {snip}


Mr. de Blasio’s push to get rid of the test failed in Albany in 2018, but the pandemic ramped up pressure on the mayor to take some action on desegregation before he leaves office at the end of the year.

Late last year, he announced sweeping changes to how hundreds of academically selective middle and high schools admit students. Standardized testing data and grading information was not available during the pandemic, which made it impossible for many schools to sort through students as they usually do.

City Hall controls admissions to all schools in New York City except for three of the specialized high schools, which are controlled by Albany. {snip}