Dominion of New York

Social Justice

November 16, 2012

Why Do So Few Blacks & Latinos Get In?

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Written by: Basir Mchawi

Stuyvesant High School is one of 8 specialized New York City schools whose admissions of black and Latinos is very low. Photo courtesy of Flickr/orinjuice

Here’s what one reader had to say about our ongoing coverage of the debate over specialized high schools. Leave a comment.


he increasing racial disparities in the NYC Specialized High Schools illustrate the continuing failure of Mayoral Control of education under Michael Bloomberg. While several “remedies” have been suggested, there is no clear statement of the underlying problem. During Bloomberg’s watch, every objective measure of the so-called educational achievement gap between Black and Latino students versus their White and Asian counterparts has increased. Over the last ten years SAT scores of White and Asian students in NYC have increased while the SAT scores of Blacks and Latinos have decreased. The plummeting admission rates of students of color to the elite specialized high schools is just another measure of the continued failure of Bloomberg. The numbers of Blacks and Latinos in the elite schools is at the lowest point at any time in the last 50 years!

I attended Bronx High School of Science “back in the day.” I was a project kid as were the majority of my Black and Latino peers. We received no special treatment and enrolled in no special programs but we sliced and diced the entrance exam. Is the issue the SHSAT or is it that our children are not being adequately educated?

Many tout the racial progress that has taken place over the last decades. This mythological progress is an illusion that too many Americans buy into. If we look at education, health care, employment, economic well being, criminal justice, law enforcement etc, we view an increasingly disparate (and desperate) scenario. Blacks and Latinos are literally being “left behind.”

While I welcome the NAACP complaint, the problem is not an entrance exam that Black and Latino youngsters took for years and “passed.” The problem is a lot deeper than that. We must begin to collectively address the myriad of problems that challenge the very fabric of life in these United States. In doing so we must be more scientific and focused in our approach. It is once again time for us to get off our butts and agitate for real lasting change and social justice. I don’t think we have too many other options.

Basir Mchawi is a communicator, educator, activist and parent. He is the producer/host of the award winning WBAI radio program “Education at the Crossroads.” He currently teaches in the English Department at Queens College and in the Police Leadership Program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

About the Author

Basir Mchawi


A student at Ocean Hill Collegiate Middle School. Photo by Jessica Campbell
The outdoor plaza at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Photo courtesy of OlivierJD.
Photo courtesy of Flickr/Renato Ganoza

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