NYC’s High-Stakes Testing for Elite Public Schools Is Not Helping Poor Asians Either

Stuyvesant High School
Stuyvesant High School

I’ve been writing in support of affirmative action in higher education for a few years now; and, with news that the Students for Fair Admissions lawsuits against Harvard and UNC is ramping up its efforts (last week, the group sent a letter to Ivy League universities demanding that it not destroy student admissions records on the basis that it might someday be used as evidence for SFFA), I’m guessing that my writing might again be developing interest.

But, one controversy I haven’t touched upon yet is education access at the secondary school level. Specifically, I haven’t yet talked about the heated battle over New York City’s high-stakes testing system for its elite public high schools.

This is an oversight on my part, particularly since I was invited last year by filmmaker Curtis Chin (maker of Vincent Who?) to screen segments from his upcoming documentary Tested, which explores the lives of several students hoping to test into the city’s elite public schools, at a time when that high-stakes admissions process is coming under fire for producing schools with racial diversity so abysmal you would think we were back in the pre-Brown v. Board of Education era: last year, Stuyvesant — one of New York City’s specialized high schools — enrolled 7 Black students into a student body of over 3,000. That’s right, seven. That’s not even enough people to build a lacrosse team with.

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Asian Americans helped deliver McAuliffe victory in VA in Election 2013, despite reports of voting rights violations at polls

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Yesterday marked a critical election day for the nation, despite being an off-year election with only a handful of “headline-worthy” races. Nonetheless, Election Day 2013 took place in the wake of a two-week shutdown of the federal government that most voters blamed on the Tea Party. It also occurred amid controversy regarding the troubled online launch of Healthcare.gov, the Obama administration’s cornerstone website for implementation of the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare).

Many pundits have viewed (or spun) last night’s election as a referendum on both the Tea Party and Obamacare. In that light, it is interesting to assess how the American voter responded, in general, on the night’s key races. More importantly (at least to readers of this blog), many of the night’s key races occurred in cities and states — New York City, New Jersey and Virginia — with relatively high populations of Asian American voters, and where Asian American voters helped propel President Obama to his 2012 re-election.

Thus, last night’s election results not only speak to the general attitude of all voters, but can also be used to assess the attitudes of the Asian American voter within the larger political landscape of the American voter. And, looking at the results, we see some pretty interesting trends.

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