Neetu Chandak, DCNF
- Asian American parents and civil rights groups filed a lawsuit to stop a Bill de Blasio supported diversity plan for New York City high schools.
- The plan aims to give 20 percent of seats to students who miss the cut-off scores to get into elite schools.
- Opponents of the plan say it disproportionately hurts Asian American students.
Asian American parents and civil rights groups filed a lawsuit against New York City officials Thursday over a bill that would increase admissions for black and Hispanic students to elite schools in the city.
Black and Hispanic students make up 68 percent of the city’s population with 9 percent receiving offers to attend specialized high schools. Asian American students, however, make up 62 percent of the population at the elite schools, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
The plan promoted by Mayor Bill de Blasio would set aside 20 percent of seats at each of the elite high schools for students coming from low socioeconomic backgrounds, according to WaPo.
Getting into the specialized high schools is determined by a single test known as the he Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT), a Department of Education (DOE) spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation over email.
De Blasio announced in June the Discovery program, which offers free tutoring to those who missed the cutoff for admissions a second chance at getting accepted, would be expanded starting in the fall of the 2019-2020 academic year, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“It unlawfully restricts equal access of tens of thousands of poor Asian-American children living outside high-poverty school districts to Specialized High Schools,” the Asian American Coalition for Education (AACE) said in a press statement Thursday.
AACE added some of the schools affected by the plan include Brooklyn Tech, Staten Island Tech and Manhattan’s Stuyvesant High School.
“Furthermore, this costly expansion (estimated at $550,000) is just another futile effort by de Blasio to mask his failures to improve K-8 education in black and Hispanic communities: under his watch, math and English proficiency rates among black and Latino students from grades 3 through 8 are less than 50% of performance levels among Asian and Caucasian American students,” the AACE press statement said.
Those getting into specialized high schools had an average GPA of 94, the same as those in the top 7 percent of their class. The city’s new rules eventually wants to reserve between 90 and 95 percent of seats for those in the top 7 percent from each middle school who are also in the top 25 percent of 8th graders in the city. The plan hopes to eliminate SHSAT as well, according to a DOE spokesperson.
“Our schools are academically stronger when they reflect the diversity of our City,” New York City’s Department of Education (NYCDOE) spokesman Will Mantell said in an email to The DCNF.
Plaintiff and parent Yi Fang Chen believes the plan would make it harder for her two sons to get into the elite schools one day, according to WaPo.
“Diversity is a great thing, but do not lower the standards,” plaintiff Yi Fang Chen said, WaPo reported.
The case is being litigated by California-based group Pacific Legal Foundation. AACE is one of the several groups in the lawsuit.
AACE previously supported Students for Fair Admissions’s (SFFA) trial against Harvard University, accusing the school for holding Asian American applicants to higher standards during admissions. The three-week trial revealed Asian American applicants had the lowest admissions rate compared to other racial groups and received low personality scores due to weak recommendation letters.
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