Democrats' Coalition of the Fringes Comes Unglued Over Stuyvesant HS
Print Friendly and PDF

I’ve long wondered if the new New York school supremo Richard Carranza, a doctrinaire Mexican-American leftist from the West, is in over his head in the viper pit that is New York City parenting. Carranza has made explicit the argument that either blacks and Hispanics average lower on tests due to white racism or … [gasp] … The Bell Curve is right!

But that argument has flopped with New York City Asian parents.

From the New York Times:

Amid Racial Divisions, Mayor’s Plan to Scrap Elite School Exam Fails

Opposition from Asian lawmakers and a billionaire’s lobbying push helped block Bill de Blasio’s plan to desegregate New York’s specialized schools.

By Eliza Shapiro and Vivian Wang
June 24, 2019

Richard A. Carranza, the city schools chancellor, insisted last week that the plan to eliminate the entrance exam that dictates admission into Stuyvesant High School and the city’s other top public high schools was gaining traction.

“There’s some real momentum,” Mr. Carranza said at the State Capitol.

Two days later, the bill died. The Legislature adjourned, having taken no action on the specialized school exam.

The contentious bill divided many of New York’s families along racial lines: Black and Hispanic students have seen their numbers at the prized schools plummet over the last two decades, while some Asian families argued that the mayor’s plan discriminated against the low-income Asian students who are now a majority at the schools.

But the extent of the proposal’s radioactivity was unusual in Albany, particularly during a session that was marked by the newly Democrat-controlled body’s willingness to take up issues that had long been considered off-limits.

… It touched off the same racial divisions among black, Hispanic and Asian lawmakers as it had among parents in New York City. …

“When something is so poorly done, it never had a shot — and rightfully so,” said Senator John Liu, a Queens Democrat who graduated from a specialized school, the Bronx High School of Science, and holds a key position on an education committee.

Mr. de Blasio and others have argued that the only way to increase the number of black and Hispanic students in the schools is to eliminate the exam. This year, only seven black students received offers to Stuyvesant High School, the most selective of the specialized schools, out of 895 seats. Albany has controlled the exam since 1971. Mr. de Blasio wanted to replace the test with a system that offered seats to top performers at every city middle school.

But the bill never made it to a floor vote, and only passed out of the Assembly’s education committee last week after several of the committee’s Democrats aired grievances with the legislation and voted against it.

There were no rallies in support of the mayor’s plan on the Capitol’s grand staircase and almost no lobbyists pushed it — except Mr. de Blasio and Mr. Carranza and their staff members. …

In casting his “no” vote during the education committee meeting earlier this week, Assemblyman Ron Kim, a Queens Democrat, accused the mayor of creating a “nasty narrative” that pitted Asian families against black and Hispanic parents. …

An April town hall meeting in Queens offered a window into how much passion — and tension — the elite schools can evoke.

Speaking before a packed room, Mary Alice Miller, a black alumna of Stuyvesant, said the arguments against change were filled with “racial coding.”

“It’s very offensive to hear all the racial coding: that African-Americans are not good enough, if more of us are accepted into the schools, the specialized schools will bring down their standards.”

… Before the meeting, Bernard Chow, a Queens activist, spoke against the mayor’s proposal.

“All the hard-working students, the students who are willing to give up basketball and stay home and study,” he said, speaking over “keep the test” chants and banging drums. “Those students who are willing to give up video games, and look at the book, it’s unfair to them.”

Wai Wah Chin, president of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance of Greater New York, likened Mr. de Blasio’s plan to the Chinese Exclusion Act, an 1800s law restricting Asian immigration.

A few minutes later, Dulce Marquez, a recent New York high school graduate, called the entrance exam “a product of institutional racism.”

… As the discussion outside of Albany grew more fraught, wealthy benefactors jumped in, helping to guarantee that Mr. de Blasio’s plan would fail.

Over the last two months, an effort spearheaded by Ronald Lauder, a billionaire cosmetics heir who graduated from Bronx Science, poured several million dollars into an advertising and lobbying effort to keep the exam and diversify the schools through other means, including free universal test preparation and more gifted and talented programs.

[Comment at]

Print Friendly and PDF