Brooklyn Tech and the Brooklyn Latin School, both specialized high schools, tend to enroll slightly higher numbers of Black and Latino students than the other six schools, and this year was no exception. Brooklyn Tech made offers to 76 Latino students and 64 Black students, out of a total freshman class of 1,607, by far the largest of any specialized school.
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. Changes to admissions at selective middle and high schools, along with gifted and talented programs for elementary school students, would do much more to actually desegregate the school system than eliminating the specialized school admissions exam, experts have said.
But the paltry numbers of Black and Latino students at places like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science, considered the crown jewels of the system, have become a potent symbol of the obstacles many city students face in trying to access top-quality schools.
The latest data also shows clearly how ineffective recent efforts to diversify the specialized schools under the current admissions system have been.
Ronald S. Lauder, the billionaire cosmetics heir, launched a multimillion dollar lobbying and advertising campaign in 2019 to defeat the mayor’s push to eliminate the specialized school exam. As part of that effort, Mr. Lauder and his partner in the initiative, former Citigroup chairman Richard D. Parsons, promised to shower test preparation companies with money to better prepare Black and Latino students for the exam.
Despite over $750,000 spent on test prep over the last two years, most of which was funneled to existing nonprofit programs across the city, their plan has not made a dent in the numbers.
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