Friday, August 17

Race and the specialized high schools

The featured article this week on Gotham Gazette is about diversity at the city's specialized high schools. A year ago, the Times reported that the city's most elite high schools had suffered an inexplicable drop in minority enrollment, even though the DOE had created special programs targeted toward helping gifted black and Hispanic students pass the entrance exam.

Gotham Gazette says the drop may be related to the creation of new options for strong students, such as Brooklyn Latin, the newest exam school, and the Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science, and Engineering, opening this fall. These schools are largely located in lower-income neighborhoods and some require a certain portion of their students to come from those neighborhoods, ensuring some racial diversity and also potentially diverting top minority students from enrolling in more distant elite schools.

As Insideschools founder Clara Hemphill pointed out last year in a column in the New York Times, several programs groom talented black and Hispanic kids for admission to top private and boarding schools, taking them out of the pool of kids who might enroll in the specialized high schools. Self-selection almost certainly comes into play as well; a black student touring Stuyvesant might easily decide that the fact that only 2.2 percent of Stuy students are black makes another school more attractive, and students of all races might be turned off by the school's tendency for students to segregate themselves by race.

No comments: