June 6th, 2018
Livingston, New Jersey. Asian American Coalition for Education (AACE) denounces New York Mayor de Blasio’s proposal to phase out the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) as politically motivated, unconstitutional, and unjust. De Blasio also plans to reallocate 20% of the admission quotas for lower performing students from lower-income families. This act of de facto racial balancing violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the 1978 U.S. Supreme Court rulings against use of racial quota, as well as the New York State Constitution (Article 1, Section 11). It is also a gross cover-up for his administration’s failures to improve educational quality for New York’s black and Latino communities.
Established by the Hecht-Calandra Act, SHSAT has been used since 1971 by New York’s high-performing high schools to recruit talents. It is a fair and effective yardstick to select competitive and diverse student bodies. Currently, over 60% of the students at schools using SHSAT come from a family qualifying under federal anti-poverty guidelines for free and subsidized lunch and over 70% are minorities. By contrast, schools that use multiple admission standards, as proposed by de Blasio, are far less diverse, pooling only one third of students from low-income families and 60% racial minorities.
De Blasio claim of “monumental injustice (done to) black and Latino students” is baseless. In the 1990s, two decades after SHSAT’s adoption, African American students were well represented at these schools. During the 1994-1995 academic year, their enrollments were 11.8% and 37.3% at Bronx Science and Brooklyn Technical, respectively. For a host of reasons unrelated to SHSAT, their ratios dropped to 3.6% and 7.6% during 2016-2017. Notably, under de Blasio’s 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. It is not SHSAT, but Mr. de Blasio who failed the black and Latino students in New York City!
The chronic declines of black and Latino enrollments, both in absolute and relative terms, reflect broader deficiencies and deteriorations in the city’s public school system. As mayor, De Blasio should take a major responsibility and address these root causes rather than attacking SHSAT and hardworking Asian American students, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Instead, his so-called diversity bill is merely an act of racial balancing, with grave ramifications for the city’s diverse population. Aside from its unconstitutional nature and expected ineffectiveness, this politically charged move exacerbates racial tensions by favoring selected groups against others on inconsistent and nontransparent admission standards. It is also a practice of race-based, discriminatory affirmative action that unfairly hurts the prospects of Asian American students as political scapegoats.
AACE calls upon the New York State legislature to reject Bill A10427A and De Blasio’s divisive act to undermine the fair, effective and merit-based admissions system adopted by New York’s specialized high schools.
Mr. Yukong Zhao, the President of AACE said: “De Balsio’s proposal is just another attempt by cowardly politicians to use racial balancing to cover up their devastating failures in providing basic education to black and Hispanic children. Regrettably, they always use hardworking Asian American children as their scapegoat. We shall not allow this practice to prevail. It will not only take away admission slots from qualified children, but also reinforce damages and injustices inflicted on black and Hispanic students by concealing the very fact that De Blasio has failed them in K-8 education.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Mr. Raymond Wong, telephone: (646) 853-0928, email: [email protected]
About the AACE: www.asianamericanforeducation.org
The Asian American Coalition for Education (“AACE”) is a non-political, non-profit, national organization devoted to promoting equal rights for Asian-Americans in education and education-related activities. It is a grass-roots organization established by Asian-American parents. In May 2015, the founders of AACE united more than 60 Asian-American organizations to file a complaint with the Department of Justice and the Department of Education regarding Harvard University’s discriminatory treatment of Asian American applicants. It was one of the largest joint actions ever taken by Asian American organizations in pursuit of equal education rights and is currently under the investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.