New York City has some famous selective high schools, such as Stuyvesant and the Bronx Science, that determine admission solely by scores on the Specialized High School Admissions Test. The result is a politically incorrect mix of students at these schools — not many blacks and Latinos, some whites, and lots and lots of Asian Americans — and this makes Mayor Bill de Blasio sad. He wants, in particular, more black and Latino kids at these schools, and of course this means fewer of the others, particularly Asian Americans. And so he wants to get rid of that darn test.
Now, no selection system is perfect, and one can certainly argue that in theory it would be good to take other factors into account besides a student’s score on just one test, grades being the most obvious example.
But there are also many advantages to the current system that will be lost if it is changed: its simplicity, objectivity, and transparency. And those are great virtues indeed, especially when the government is divvying up a scarce resource that people — parents — feel very passionate about. And just imagine the never-ending fights among groups and parents once the test is abandoned and a new system has to be fashioned and implemented. Well, actually, you don’t have to imagine it: The raw emotions are already out there for everyone to see.
The Left will not be happy until New York City follows Harvard and MIT and fully embraces some form of racial and ethnic preference in the name of “diversity,” and that means, again, that Asian Americans will get treated the worst, probably worse even than whites, all in the name of equality. See my organization’s recent study, “Too Many Asian Americans: Affirmative Discrimination in Elite College Admissions.”
Mayor de Blasio, in a recent essay, says he wants to replace the current test with a new process that will weigh the student’s middle-school rank and scores on statewide tests that the students are already taking. While it’s good that this wouldn’t involve direct consideration of race or ethnicity, it doesn’t sound like a perfect system either — being in the top 10 percent at one school is not the same as being in the top 10 percent at some other school, and why should the statewide tests be better than the specially designed one now being used?
What’s more, that’s just the opening bid, and once the current system is discarded it’s inevitable that there will be strong pressure to weigh race and ethnicity. What’s more, the mayor has made clear his motive: He doesn’t like, in the aggregate, the skin color and national origin of the current student body, and he is reverse-engineering his way to the racial and ethnic mix he prefers. That sort of motive violates federal civil-rights law and the Constitution.
So the mayor flunks, and the test should stay.