No Ethnic Group Owns Stuyvesant. All New Yorkers Do.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan would destroy the best high schools in New York City.

Comments: 232

  1. So right, so well said. I wonder if the next generation of Stuyvesant grads will be able to reason this well, to write this well, if DeBlasio's wishes are implemented.

  2. Unlikely.
    Look at what has happened to the vaunted Ivy League educations with affirmative action admits, legacies, athletes and other line-jumpers who are given academic slots before those with stronger test scores, rigorous curriculum choices and better grades.

    I don't know a pragmatic Ivy League grad -- these all seem to be over-educated dumbbells judging by what we read in the media today.

  3. There is only one legitimate way to get into the best high schools: hard work and lots of studying. The same holds true for college and graduate schools. Lessening the standards hurts us all. This is not about race, color, gender, etc. It's about who works hard and is bright and motivated enough to get in.

  4. I would have no complaint if getting in was only about learning. Getting into these schools means you get to meet and network, which helps in your career. It's the networking aspect of hard-to-get-into schools that I hate. For even C students who graduate, the network is much more beneficial than the learning.

  5. If you think that "hard work and lots of studying" is the only "legitimate" way to get into the best high schools, then shouldn't you oppose this test? This test is only supposed to measure aptitude (i.e. intelligence), not hard work or studying. In fact, that is the whole point of the test! If the test is actually only measuring the amount of work a student puts into studying for it, then the test has failed on its own terms.

  6. Hard work is measured, in this case and in the scenario you describe, by quantifiable aptitude in certain testing situations that reward specific types of focused study. That study requires time, resources, and (increasingly) wealth.

    Do we expect someone without access to these forms of test preparation to work doubly hard, yet to be assessed for their absolute performance? You can address hard work OR results, but rarely both.

  7. You said it yourself in the opening paragraphs of this piece, "I got to sit next to Omar Jadwat in metal shop, Gary Shteyngart in homeroom, Naval Ravikant in history, and Ruvim Breydo in physics, and that made all the difference." Most NYC public school students don't have the opportunity to sit with peers that have such an uplifting effect on their educational experience.

    While the elimination of the admissions test is not a perfect solution it IS an attempt to level the playing field for gifted students who's parents don't have the resources or wherewithal to navigate the testing and admissions process. Those students deserve to be in places that provide academic excellence just as much as any other student in NYC does. Stuyvesant shouldn't be a haven for the elite of the city; it should be a tool to lift up gifted students from all corners of the city.

    If, as you say, it is the quality of students that makes the difference in education as opposed to the institution itself does it not stand to reason that those students should not be sequestered?

    Additionally, I am personally suspicious of your motives in attacking the mayor's "inability" to tackle school equity during his tenure. As a key figure in NYC charter schools I would challenge that you do not have the best interest of the city's public school system at heart. To me your position on this matter seems contradictory and unproductive.

  8. this writer appears to make the mistake of equating academic success with socio-economic elitism. Many, perhaps even most, of the Asians in the halls of Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech, and yes -, Stuy, are children of immigrants who came (and continue to come) to this country speaking little English with little more than a suitcase. my grad school roommate was a Stuy grad whose parents still speak little-to-no English and whose father worked as a laborer. He now teaches at MIT. My wife's parents came to this country when she was seven and ran a bodega in Queens. They lived six people (three generations) in a one bedroom in Jackson Heights. She was delivering groceries in elementary school to help support the family. Elite? They didn't know anything about the school system. She didn't speak a word of English when she started in NY public school. She graduated Stuy, then Stanford, and is now a full professor at UCSF. These schools are not like Harvard or Yale. There is no such thing as a legacy admit. High socio-economic status may help some with respect to test-prep. However, when you can demonstrate, with data, that URMs are living in poverty yet prioritizing education, sacrificing their evenings and weekends to learn English at the same time they attempt to support their families and learn, AND THEY STILL are denied a place in the classroom, then we will have something to talk about.

  9. I don't know what you mean by "gifted." If the students were able to handle the work, they would be able to handle the test. Just throwing them in a class with kids who *can* get good scores on the test serves nobody. Experience tells us that rather than absorbing algebra by osmosis, they'll struggle and either fail or drag down the pace of instruction until the schools are no different than any others.

  10. "Whose" parents, not "who's". " Who's"is a contraction meaning "who is".
    Students who have the "wherewithal to navigate the testing and the admissions process" are the ones who belong in Stuyvesant and other specialized schools. Those who do not should neither suffer the humiliation of failure nor be responsible for the dumbing down of the curriculum. As many have stated, the problem exists in the grade and middle schools, long before the admissions test.

  11. Excellent piece Mr. Weinstein. Most of the students at specialized schools are already low-income as the Mayor would have it. The new proposal is simply discriminatory and a cruel punishment for the hard work of kids from such diverse backgrounds as Pakistani, Ghanian, Serbian, Indian, Thai, Argentine, and many other hard-working immigrant communities.

  12. Blacks and Hispanics form the voter base of the Democratic Party and those that elected Bill DeBlasio as mayor. He has to deliver the goodies to those who elected him. That is how politics works. These specialized schools may be one of the only reasons some parents continue to live in NYC. Bill DeBlasio and his new Superintendent has failed to understand that it is not the building or the teachers that make the specialized schools special, it is the student body and their families. This may be the shove they need to move to the suburbs.

  13. Mr. Weinstein, obviously you make some valid points, but yours is hardly a disinterested opinion. Every group has the tendency eventually to create boundaries around itself be it of class, ethnicity, intellect, etc. Stuyvesant High School is no different. At the same time, the school culture there, with all its intellectual hubris, is known to be problematic. Mayor de Blasio's recommendations may need tweeking, but obviously this is America, not Singapore. All ethnic groups must find the means to compete.

  14. So shouldn't the focus be on improving the quality of all the city's elementary schools?

  15. Painful.

  16. Chicago Selective Enrollment schools have a disproportionate number of Asian students. My understanding is that Asian families privately prepare their children at test prep centers.

    Why do NYC (and Chicago) public schools not offer test prep so that the playing field is more equal? If students can privately prep for the test, then the criteria is not truly based on merit.

  17. Test prep only works if you have ingested the knowledge base that good prep elicits. You must already be a hard working student to benefit much from it.

  18. They do, there are free test prep programs.

    "The city began offering a free test-prep program several years ago for black and Hispanic students, but after a legal challenge, other ethnic groups were granted the same access to the course. Today, 43 percent of the students in the program are Asian."

  19. They should and it should be free to those families that need free test prep.

  20. I am 63 years old, and a math professor. I grew up in California. Even there, even in high school, I knew about Stuyvesant's reputation. It is indeed the student body that makes the place. Change the criteria for the other magnet schools if you will; but leave Stuyvesant alone.

  21. I think there are a lot of Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech, and Townsend Harris alumni that would be offended by your statement. There is nothing different whatsoever between any of these places -- historically, they have all worked the same way in selecting their student body and they have all generated a staggeringly high number of distinguished alumni in every imaginable field and thus would be similarly affected by any change you'd propose for Stuyvesant.

  22. Years ago I signed up to tutor any seventh grade student at a middle school in the Bronx who was interested - tutor them specifically for the exam for admission to the four special high schools in the city. No one in that school had ever tried the exam, let alone passed it.

    I believe that the program that took me there went out of business after I moved from NYC.

    In the last of my three years on the job two of my students succeeded in getting into the special schools. Subsequently, both went to university - one to CUNY and one to St John's.

    They are among the most remarkable young people I know.

    But the fact is that I left my students at the end of the fall term, and to make up for my absence I paid the fee for one of the good tutoring services for the two most diligent students - the two who succeeded in the exam.

    If I could do that, so can hundreds of others in NYC. Indeed I would pay for that tutoring for kids I have never met if the 2018 counterparts of Maya and Antia could be identified. Let's get a fund going Mr Weinstein.

    EVERYONE with experience KNOWS that it is the presence of other brilliant students that does more than half the educating in ELITE schools.

    I'll be writing to the Mayor to urge him to change his mind about this.

  23. The flaw in Mr. Weinstein's analysis is the assumption that the test really identifies academic merit. It is the flaw in all arguments for a pure meritocracy--the idea that we can actually tell what merit is.

    It may well be that Mr. Weinstein is correct that students from many of New York's schools are so abysmally unprepared that they would flounder and fail at Stuyvesant, and bring the level of the school down substantially. But the solution to that problem lies not in simply adhering to the same rigid testing formula, but in finding new ways to judge who really belongs--that is, who can succeed--at top schools.

  24. Isn't merit based on ability to achieve, which is what aptitude tests are designed to measure? We might as well say, the kid with the biggest smile is the most 'meritorious.'

  25. The way "to judge who really belongs -- that is, who can succeed" -- is the test.

    Everything else is subjective.

  26. The students who pass the test are succeeding.

  27. sometimes you need to break a few eggs to make the perfect SJW omlette

  28. "Wise men propose, fools dispose". De Blasio is best inclined to ruin the city with his foolish acts. Why doesn't he just take another holiday and travel somewhere faraway?

  29. If kids are smart enough to get in, then they do. End of discussion.

  30. What right do u have to declare "end of discussion" right after u make your point? Let other people be part of the discussion, not just u and your ideas.

  31. When I attended Bronx Science many years ago, a teacher told me the test was meant to be an aptitude test, not an achievement test. It was meant to be a test you could not study for. I question whether that holds true today, as it appears that test preparation does make a big difference.
    There is always a balancing act in education between using stronger students to pull up those a little behind them, or putting the strongest together so that they may soar. In NYC today, there is a need for more schools for top students in addition to Science, Stuyvesant and Brooklyn Tech.

  32. In the early 70s, I was told AND TOLD in high school that the SAT was an aptitude test you could not study for. I was the first in my family to ever dream of attending college, and the oldest child, so I had no help with this whatsoever. No guidance counselor advised me either. So I took the SAT "cold" with no prep and got very mediocre results -- the kind that won't help you at all to get into a good school. I had no idea there was a pre-SAT (and was shocked when I found out!) or books on how to ace the test, or even special "cram" schools you could attend. I was also never told I could RE-TAKE the test for a better score!

    I have paid my entire life -- educational and professional -- for that ignorance, and I was a white Jewish woman from a family that was entirely literate and well-read (but not sophisticated or experienced with higher education).

    Frankly, I think the system has a problem if they cannot create a test that is unbiased and CANNOT BE STUDIED FOR or prepped for. But that doesn't mean I think Stuyvesant should throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  33. I wish there was some one in Mayors advisors who would have suggested helping students from these minorities prepare for free and their training providers quality checked with percentage of acceptances.
    We have learned the hard way already in USA merits is a must or our world will be totally taken from us by the personalities like the ones already in WH and outsourced to whoever pays like the putins and saudis or worse xi's stooges

  34. Has di Blasio managed to make improvements on anything besides pre-K during his tenure? He is such an embarrassment to the city.

  35. You are absolutely right!

  36. The author's entire column is undermined by the fact that he founded Success 6 - an entity ENTIRELY devoted to test prep. I work at a public middle school in west harlem, and many of my students have been either expelled or have voluntarily left Success do to its obsession with test prep.

    Surely, Mr. Weinstein would agree that education ought be more than a test result! Study after study have confirmed that income level is directly correlational to success on such standardized tests. Indeed, the founder of the SAT was a eugenicist who designed the test to prove whie supremacy!

    I applaud the mayor's plan. It's genuinely exciting that my students, most of whom are black, Dominican, or Yemini, will now have access to schools like Stuy!

  37. All NYC students have access to specialized schools today. As for any test, some level of test prep is needed, be it the SATs or a citizenship test, but that is on the individual on how they wish to do it. Most will agree that income level has correlation to success, but it is NOT causation. ‘The specialized schools are far from bastions of privilege, dominated by immigrants or the children of immigrants' and the article stated that 44% of current Stuy students are considered poor by the DOE's own standard of poverty. The Mayor's office should combat the scarcity of resources by increasing the number of specialized schools & have better programs to help STEM students succeed and stop creating racial divisions where they do not exist. No applause here.

  38. Unfortunately, Mert, your students will end up failing out of Stuyvesant. And drag the school down so much, it won't be elite or special anymore. All in the name of lefty liberalism!

    Though I am not in favor of test prep either....the real deficit in your students is not lack of test prep or inferior schools. It is their families and you cannot change that. They come from backgrounds that put no value on literacy or reading -- unmarried single moms -- no father in the home -- violence and instability.

    The No.1 thing that makes these Asian kids succeed is not test prep. It is having their REAL mother and REAL father, married and living together in a stable home, and encouraging their own biological children to succeed. No test, no school, no lefty liberal fantasy world will ever make up for that.

  39. There are no "schoolS" like Stuy. There is just Stuy and Bronx Highschool of Science. Only a very small number can be admitted to these two schools. The question is how best to use the very small number of admission places for these two schools.

  40. If the Mayor gets his wish, then at least 25% of the incoming students will not be ready for the curriculum at the specialized schools. The schools will have three choices:

    1. Create two tracks within the school, one for the students who would have passed the test, and one for the students who came from middle schools that did not prepare them to succeed at this level. In this case, the schools will have re-created the segregated conditions that the mayor is trying to address.

    2. Lower the level of instruction so that the incoming, unprepared students can comprehend the material and pass the tests.

    3. Maintain the high level of instruction and fail any unprepared students who aren't able to keep up.

    I can't see how any of these three scenarios benefit the population of students who have been failed by the city's elementary and middle schools. We need to better instruction at every school, not a cosmetic fix like this.

    There is another issue: These specialized schools are predominately Asian. There are also exclusive public high schools in New York City like Beacon. Those schools are predominately white, but the Mayor isn't asking them to lower their admission criteria.

  41. In the early 2000s, I went to a large public high school often lauded for its diversity (racial and socioeconomic). The dirty secret is that it was highly internally segregated based on an academic tracking system. Being on the AP track, I mostly interacted with white, largely upper middle class kids, at a school that was maybe only 50% white and had a sizeable poorer population. It's very challenging to achieve meaningful integration in an environment where people are being tracked on performance.

  42. The Mayor’s children attended Beacon and Brooklyn Tech

  43. I hope those excellent schools will produce more effective leaders than the mayor. On second thought, there is nothing like a politician.

  44. I graduated from Stuyvesant in 1954. I went on to Cornell (B.A.), Yale (Ph.D), and Harvard (MBA). The toughest place, which challenged me most and taught me most, was Stuyvesant. As I told fellow college students, once you've been through Stuyvesant, everyplace else is a piece of cake.

    I had never heard of the specialized NYC high schools until a fellow Junior High classmate told me he was taking the test, and suggested I do so, too. One straightforward test and I was on my way. May it be so for those who follow me.

  45. The specialized schools, especially Stuy and Science, produce Nobel Prize winners. I'l always regret that the long commute dissuaded me from attending but maybe that's part of the reason I'll never win a Nobel Prize. You have to earn Stuy.

  46. It took a change in subway trains and fifty minutes to get me from Washington Heights to the old Stuyvesant HS site back when. The same returning everyday, plus sports and a 24 hour weekly work schedule.
    I don't regret any of it.
    No, I did not graduate in the top half, but I learned from the best and achieve my dream career.
    Keep the test, mayor. But open admission to some more poor folks and don't let communities, racial or otherwise, game the test or the system.
    Yes, you can do it!

  47. Actually back in the day, two regular neighborhood southern Brooklyn Public High Schools, Lincoln and Madison, produced like nine Nobel Laureates! You can look it up! And a significant number of New Utrecht alumni, helped create the glory days of Hollywood! Take that, Stuyvesants!!!

  48. The standardized test seems the fairest way to me. Some years ago these specialized high schools were the only good high schools here. Now I am told there are many more good public high schools for bright kids. Consider also that the kids from Stuyvesant and Bronx Science may have a harder time getting into the colleges of their choice because so many of the kids from that particular school apply to a particular college. It ain't broke, no need to fix it.

  49. What, exactly, are the appropriate criteria for admission to any competitive school? If it is performance on an exam, then Mr. Weinstein is correct. If there are other rational criteria, then Mr. Weinstein is favoring applicants with success at exam taking over applicants with talent for any other criteria. This is the central question that has to be resolved.

    My own view is that exam performance is too narrow. Having attended an elite college and medical school, it is my experience that exam performance and competence in life's more important challenges (educational and otherwise) are poorly correlated.

    I agree with Mr. Weinstein that admission to Stuyvesant and other elite schools should not be modified to achieve some racial or ethnic balance and I agree that improving rigor in other public schools might resolve the racial disparity in admission test performance. Those, however, are separate (and much less controversial) questions. The hard one is the same one Mr. Weinstein diligently avoids.

  50. In theory, of course you're right. The tricky part comes in when you try to determine an applicant's "competence in life's more important challenges". If you think a standardized test is biased, wait until you start adding "soft" criteria. Then you've opened a Pandora's box. The question is whether the admission criteria should be strictly based on test performance. If so, then since Stuyvesant (and Bronx Science, and Hunter, etc.) is a public school, then every single elementary & middle school should offer the kind of instuction that prepares students to compete for a spot. The hard question is how do we change that? The other question that needs to be asked is whether the test is actually biased. There is ample reason to believe so, but it needs further (unbiased) investigation. Surely a more even-handed test can be devised. That's the easiest part of this problem to solve.

  51. The bigger problem which needs to be addressed is whether a single test should ever be the lone factor in determining a child's future educational opportunities.

  52. DeBlasio should really be focusing on improving the elementary schools, followed by the middle schools. I know this is not as glamorous as Stuyvesant but it is the solution to improving the academic performance of students in this city. Kids need a solid foundation that is started in elementary schools in order to succeed. Lowering the standards of the curriculum, or extremely low graduation rates, will be the result of his misguided plan. The fact that one racial group in particular makes up a larger percentage of the schools shows that they are focused, work harder, and are willing to sacrifice to find success. Many of these kids come from low-income families and know that attending a school like Stuyvesant or Bronx Science will have a dramatic effect on their adult lives. Maintain the test but fix the root cause - elementary education, not the effect.

  53. The problems of elementary education are both problems and symptoms. I work in any inner suburban district where 2/3 of students qualify for free meals. Since I work as a substitute teacher, my semi-retirement gig, I see students in high school whom I've known since elementary school. What I notice is that students who have the greater number of disruptions in their life, especially with respect to changes of residence and/or head of household, fare worse than their peers. I once had a student who was on her fifth residence, third school district, and third head of household. She was disruptive, angry, and not at grade level. The things any of us who are even modestly middle class take for granted—knowing where you will sleep, who will take care of you, and enough quiet to reflect—are like gold. The housing insecurity, in particular, to my mind, proves the long reach of segregation. I don't know how to solve this, but it is clear to me that this is not solely a failure of education. These students break my heart.

  54. Stuyvesant, I hear is an incredibly intense environment. Not sure I would want to go there if I got in. I certainly would not want to go if I didn't score high enough.

  55. I think you get the problem. Exactly.

  56. To pretend that a test is not, or cannot be, biased is not a reasoned position. It is a belief, or a hypothesis, that should be tested.

    More concerning is the statement that zero middle school students are testing advanced in math in a quarter of the schools. The simplest explanation for this is that those schools are not teaching more advanced math. If this is the case then a whole swath of the population will never be exposed to this kind of math, regardless of their potential. Unless, of course, they get an opportunity to learn in an environment that challenges them.

  57. You do not know the half of it -- I live far away in another state -- in a district so bad and lousy (and blue blue blue Democratic, high taxes, etc.) that last year, every single third grader flunked the state reading exam. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

  58. Bill de Blasio will not rest until all New York City schools are bastions of mediocrity, where teachers teach down to the lowest common denominator, if the disruptive students let them teach at all. Bill de Blasio hates charter schools, even where most of the students are from his favored minority groups and even where those minority groups succeed. Bill de Blasio simply wants equal mediocrity in his domain.

  59. So how is it that the charter schools are not producing students who can qualify for the specialized schools?

  60. I agree 100%. That said, the concern for teaching to the lowest common denominator isn't new. My children were born in 2000, and this was already a source of concern through "No child left behind," a failing program just like every other government educational failure. My twins graduated this year, and fortunately weren't guinea pigs in yet another social engineering project.

  61. Wow, this misses the point in so many ways, and is a good example why people need to be exposed to all types of different people -- some stuff cannot be learned in a classroom or by taking a test; exposure is key (which Mr. Weinstein references in his paragraph linking to his different classmates; which to me actually supports why more different types of kids (socioeconomic and race/ethnicity) should be at these schools). I hope that current Stuyvesant students can see through this.

    The other opinion piece is so much more on point and a more realistic take on this debate (with more points backed up by research to debate). I am not sure why this one is showing on top in the online version; please go read

  62. Good argument, Mr. Weinstein. Stuyvesant is one school in a system. Students arrive there after 9 or 10 years of school education. Ethnic dimensions of test results are a symptom of educational inequality, not a cause. A well-publicized revamp of one well-known school is great for a politician. It might look like they are upgrading the system. But in fact, it does not help students in the first 9-10 years.

  63. I teach Algebra to many gifted students in my middle school in suburban Chicago. We have changed the cutoff scores for Black and Hispanic students to get more diversity into our gifted program. It does not work out as intended unless many of these students get extra support. Mandatory homework help after school is one key to success as teachers can build relationships and build confidence. Otherwise, these students feel overwhelmed, do poorly, feel discouraged, and stop trying. The result is a C or worse in Algebra and classroom disruptions due to poor behavior. This is real life experience that the New York City schools should take into consideration as they make the changes planned.

  64. You're saying that these non-white/non-Asian kids can't learn, and therefore become disruptive? The school should provide extra support unless you think that the children are just incapable.

  65. If you add unqualified, those qualified will not be here anymore. You know why America has been on decline.

  66. Just what I would expect from this mayor. Truly, his objective is to destroy anything worthwhile in the City.

  67. I’m having trouble thinking of anything that’s been destroyed in the city since he’s been mayor, worthwhile or not. Maybe my memory is faulty.

  68. This is similar to what the University of Texas at Austin did in response to court orders to diversify its incoming class in the early 1990s. Instead of using SAT and ACT scores and high school GPAs, the university began automatically admitting the top 10 percent of graduating seniors from all Texas public high schools (it's now down to the top 6 percent, I think). That certainly helped diversify its classes, but the downside has been a large cohort of students from low performing schools unable to compete with the more prepared students. A huge percentage drop out after the first semester or two and to what end? Instead of demanding that low performing high schools do a better job and/or directing these students to colleges where they will excel, we play a numbers game that looks good race- and socio-economic-wise, but leaves the students feeling like failures.

  69. This is not about rewarding talent and hard work but giving yet another advantage to children who already have the advantage of engaged parents with resources to pay for test prep.
    The story about meritocracy that the middle class and up tell themselves is a lie.
    It is very fitting that Boaz Weinstein is the founder of Charter schools that are catered to poor black and brown children.
    Separate (with the myth of) equal is what this is about.

  70. Who needs meritocracy?

    Quotas are so much better!

    The Mayor is such a smart guy you have to wonder why nobody else thought of this idea?

    The beauty of the plan is that it discriminates 'against intelligence'

    You have to love our elected officials. God help us!

  71. Elected officials don't fall from the sky. Most of the people complaining here (very justifiably) are the very ones who keep voting for these identity-politics drenched politicians like this mayor. So maybe they deserve this kind of inane decision makers.

  72. A compelling piece. At one out of every six middle schools, not even 7 percent of seventh graders passed the state math exam? Wow, what a disaster that would be for Stuyvesant.

  73. Mr. Weinstein is 100% correct. Access to Stuyvesant has been unambiguous and open to all. Access to the best Prep schools in town are subject to legacy, parent's ability to pay, the right families etc. Stuyvesant has been a beacon of equal opportunity. When a school chooses to engineer a student class of less qualified students, the result is one of two outcomes, either the students fail or the school dumbs down (choice of words intentional) it's program. Instead of destroying the school, provide free after school tutoring to any student wishing to prepare for the entrance exams at schools around the district, have teachers identify high potential students and offer them extra help, make the feeder schools and programs better.

  74. I disagree with this opinion piece and support Mayor DeBlasio's plan. I attended Hunter College High School many years ago. At the time when I took the entrance exam most students didn't spent months with tutors or enrolled in cram courses to prep for the exam. There is plenty of research to indicate that SAT scores are more an indication of affluence than ability, and I think the entrance exams to NYC "elite" schools are more a measure of amount of test prep than student potential. These are public schools, and they should be accessible to *all* students in the city.

  75. Indeed. It is a measure of test prep, but it's not a measure of income level. The people at Stuy are more often than not lower income. They just happen to work hard. Should hard workers be penalized because they aren't the right "diverse" profile the Mayor deems is appropriate? Diversity is always welcome but at what expense? These hard working kids' efforts and dreams?

    The mayor would do better to prep lower-income lower achieving schools better. Administer SHSAT test prep city wide. Then see what happens.

  76. How is this not racism? In the past, many schools and universities set quotas for Jews precisely because they were “over-represented” in institutions of higher learning. The USSR did this until its own inglorious end. And still, Jews managed to get PhD’s at a rate much higher than that of the general population. Today these Jews are mostly in the US and Israel, while Russia is lagging behind in every science and technology field. So now NYC is applying the same quota system to Asians? I hope this disgusting racist proposal will go down in flames, as it deserves to do. I can just imagine the outcry if a school has decided that it had too many black students and set quotas for them. Why is it OK discriminating against Chinese, Indians, Jews, whites or whoever else the authorities deem to be too successful, too learned, or too smart?

  77. Great comment! Deep down these communists are either racial supremacists (and ashamed of it) or feel that every success must be destroyed because they know that they are not capable of succeeding. Communism (which is exactly what this proposal is) is a toxic ideology based either on pathological guilt or pathological envy.
    I can't believe this people get voted to such positions in the US!

  78. It's a good thing de Blasio is not in charge of admission to medical schools for surgery or maybe who gets to fly your plane.

    de Blasio cannot come to grips with the fact there are dummies in the world, he being one of them, apparently.

  79. Thank you for this. I am concerned by what I perceive as cultural shifts away from meritocracy. I actually think reserving seats for students at high poverty schools who just miss the cutoff is not a bad idea, so long as "just missed" is defined quite narrowly and those students are truly competitive with those who scored above the cutoff. But it just doesn't make sense to take students from middle schools where nobody is even passing the state exam. What will happen to those students when they are in an environment with higher expectations and higher performing peers?

    It is appalling that at 80 NYC middle schools not 1 7th grader passed the state exam. DeBlasio should focus on improving those schools and helping those students perform well, not engineering the selective high schools so that they are actually no longer selective.

  80. Typical story, everyone wants a uniform racial mix in order to be fairly represented and alleviate the presence of discrimination. Unfortunately in a system where only the capable are selected there will be angst. A few years ago a neighboring city that has a predominant minority, low income population was blasted in the news because it's law enforcement and emergency services were mostly white because the minority applicants weren't passing the tests. The cities answer, Lower the Test score requirement. The diversity result has not changed materially but it's way easier for academically challenged to pass.

    Lowering the entrance bar is not an effective method for pushing diversity. Suggest offering prep classes for those 7th graders interested in taking the test. This requires commitment to attend, ability to retain/learn test subject material, and capacity to apply learning to testing.

    Sending unqualified children to advanced learning environments will create a new diversity metric - fail rate increase for minority students.

  81. I'm getting over the shock that this appeared in the NY Times. In de Blasio's world, hard work comes second to meeting quota's. It's outrageous and his plan should be put to sleep. The Asian community should be upset. These kids perform at the highest level, and shutting them out is criminal. More to the point, the city school system STINKS. Per the author, de Blasio should focus on improving the education of the entire school district, not the schools that actually work. (And BTW, the author is right...want to get into a premier college, better score high on a single test...the SAT).

  82. The demand for change of the entrance requirements for the specialized high schools is the wrong place to start this discussion. Where have the parents and students been while attending elementary and middle school and have the parents asked their child if there is an interest in working toward going to a specialized high school? What plans were made to support the child to be successful in getting into a competitive program? The programs are designed for students who are able to earn high scores on standardized tests throughout their school career. If they want a seat, don't change the exam.

  83. Here is the problem with combating inequality....there is no one "root cause" that can simply and costlessly be eliminated. Why do children of color do worse on those tests? Because their parents earn less, work longer hours, face more abuse by the police, find it harder to get a mortgage, had less access to education themselves etc... So while liberal New Yorkers love the idea of fighting inequality, they are far less thrilled about paying the cost directly. Boaz says: don't blame the test - blame the primary school system and the society that makes it harder for kids of color to do better on those tests. Sure, let's just fix society and remove racism. But that is going to require achieving equality in earnings and economic opportunity and primary education,and to do that we are going to need more equality in secondary education. So please specify where exactly is the right place to break this circular system of injustice? If we pour more money into primary schools for kids you or someone else will write saying that is grossly unfair as well. Translation - solve inequality but don't do it at my expense.

    Racial injustice is the burden and responsibility that has been handed down to us by centuries of unfair and immoral decisions in this country. You are simply fooling yourself to think there is an easy costless solution where nobody gives up some of their advantage in order to make this go away.

  84. this will not cure racism at all... it will harm a sector of the student body. The gains are small and nebulous, the costs are well defined and immediate.

  85. Just refresh: Asian-Americans have highest poverty rate in NYC, but stereotypes make the issue invisible ( ).

    And 44 percent of Stuyvesant students are poor enough to qualify for free or reduced lunch or are eligible for Human Resources Administration benefits.

    So, poverty is not the answer why some children do worse on tests.

  86. The right place to break the cycle is to have after school programs in poor performing schools in the city that focus on homework and strict academic excellence. Raise the bar, rather than lower it, and expect that students will make it over that bar. Then reward students that make it over such a bar with a visit from one of their heroes, perhaps an athlete, singer, actor, politician, author, architect, doctor, lawyer, or anyone else who can provide an example of how hard work and determination made them what they are.

    Why would you expect, and accept, anything less than that? Success does not come easy, regardless of your race, gender, height, weight, or any other outwardly defining characteristic.

  87. What you are essentially saying is that the top students at schools throughout the city, students who have likely worked hard for years, will not be as interesting or bright as those who score high on one test.

    I disagree. Not only are many of these students as bright and as interesting as many of your former peers, they have the added benefit of adding some diversity to Stuyvesant. By virtue of being drawn from schools throughout the city, Stuyvesant students will now be exposed to more diversity of experience, diversity of perspective, and diversity of thought. I expect that future students will be far more challenged, better able to think critically, and will come away far more prepared for the real world. This is a good thing.

  88. I don't think you can really promise anything about which group of students will be more "interesting" or "bright" (whatever you mean in choosing those vague terms). You definitely can't know that there will be more diversity of perspective or thought -- to the contrary, your assumption that kids coming from different schools do not share a range of perspectives and modes of thought suggests that you could use exposure to a broader range of young people.

    If by diversity of experience you mean the experience of going to a failing middle school, I guess the mayor's plan would bring that -- though that probably is not the background most conducive to a positive high school experience for the cohort as a whole.

    The one thing of which you can be certain is that if you admit a group that did not perform as well on the test, they will not be as good at what the test is testing. I am not as skeptical as you seem to be that a test can evaluate educational readiness with a reasonable degree of accuracy.

  89. No. He's saying that not all top students at schools throughout the city are prepared for Stuyvesant High School. And test scores prove it.

  90. The central flaw in arguments against Weinstein for his temerity in taking the taboo position that exam schools are good as is, is the central conundrum that when you take "exam" out of exam school, it is not an exam school. In other words, it is no longer a coveted, prized symbol of student merit. Of course high stakes testing has a lot of drawbacks. But for lower socio economic students who study hard and excel on exams, such a merit-based system is a hugely positive, life changing step up and out. This opportunity will be gone when exam schools are gone. Instead, what were formerly exam schools will recede back into the great mass of other schools. These nice-but-not-exam schools will no longer be an upwardly mobile golden ticket that for generations was a transformative goal motivating so many students.

  91. Who in the world do the identity politics people consider to be an "Asian"? East Asians? South Asians? Central Asians? A Pakistani, in the myopic view of the identity politics people, are lumped in with Koreans. Indians and Vietnamese. All the same, right? Hey, they are all the same when your tiny mind thinks only in gross, monolithic stereotypes. Do these people think all "Europeans" are the same, too? The "diversity" crowd can't grasp anything other than group stereotypes based on the crowd's ignorance.

  92. yes, all of these countries are lumped together as Asian. What is missing from the U.S. is a similar focus on academic excellence. If we saluted scientists the way we did athletes, maybe we'd see different outcomes.

  93. No wonder the Democrats will keep losing elections, even now. They are doubling down as the party that only cares for blacks and latinos, and then they wonder why our party affiliations have been aligning along racial lines. And I say this as someone who loathes Republicans, and who is horrified at the ascent of Trump. But the Democrats can never learn, and will keep shooting themselves in both feet. Even many progressive people like myself have had it with rampant political correctness, identity politics, and reverse racial discrimination.

  94. Well said, and I wish I heard this necessary honesty more often, because this is a big part of what's forcing people into the hands of the Republicans and Donald Trump.

    You just can't legislate equality. What you can do, and it is much harder but more productive, is provide equal opportunity.

  95. Mayor deBlasio is not, (and his long running feud with the Democratic Governor and lukewarm support of HRC in 2016 establishes) a model Democrat. He aspires to be a man of the Left. Our own Jeremy Corbyn on these very shores.

    If, as claimed, you are really active in Democratic politics nationally and know who is being chosen in many primaries or party conventions, you'd know Hizzoner is atypical. He stood with Charles Barron, the longstanding self-declared man of the hard left (in his usual Mao jacket) at the presser, for Pete sake. So, if you are not a sock puppet and really a Democrat , take heart. Mainstream liberals, not deBlasio types are running this year.

  96. The solution is to set a threshold score for admission and let in everyone who meets that score. If that means having two Stuyvesants, or three, that's good. The mistake is starting with the assumption of only x-many seats, so it squeezes out qualified students because there are super-qualified.

  97. Problem here is that many capable kids are being left behind. When I went to Stuyvesant
    59-63, there were the same number of special test schools that there are today. But the number of students in the city is much higher now, there is more diversity and the public school education provided is not as good.
    A teacher said back then that the stuyvesant kids teach themselves. By the way it was an all boys school then, some things have changed for the better!

  98. De Blasio's plan is wrongheaded. These schools are intended to offer the most challenging academic environment for the most intellectually gifted students in the city. Intellectual capacity -- not fine tuned policies intended to replicate racial quotas -- should govern admission.

    But apart from the bad policy, I think these kinds of affirmative action policies need to be reviewed anew by the courts. I believe de Blasio's plan should be struck down as unconstitutional.

    Why? Haven't the courts blessed affirmative action as constitutional?

    The relevant difference is NYC is a majority-minority city. And the majority bloc is voting for policies to advantage their own group on the basis of race (i.e., discriminate on the basis of race against the minority). So the twist is the majority bloc seeking advantage here are blacks and Hispanics.

    This is majoritarian reverse racism and much more troubling than typical affirmative action policies ruled Constitutional in Texas and Michigan by which a majority white population determines to "inflict" itself for the benefit of the minority -- in such cases, the "racism" can be validly addressed through the political process because the "victims" constitute the democratic majority.

    However, in NYC, these racially based policies are actually targeting the minority group -- and in such a case, the racially based policies should not be given deference by the courts.

  99. I attended Hunter, with an admissions test similar to Stuyvesant's. My parents paid for intensive one-on-one tutoring for months before the test to make up for what my private-school curriculum hadn't even covered. Not everyone can afford to do this. De Blasio should provide (capable, vetted) tutors free of charge for any NYC student who would like the extra help, whether they are facing a big admissions test or just want a boost.

  100. Hunter is completely different. Once you pass the exam, then you need to go through the rest of the admissions process.

    Stuy just has the one exam. Then you're either in or out. No mushy rest of the process.

  101. Not having been reared in New York, but having lived there, I was most impressed with those who qualified and had graduated from its specialized high schools. It would be a mistake, I believe, to lower their standards. The difference in those students often, I believe, starts at home with parents who project a high standard of expectations for their children in academic performance. The faculty and instruction are not so much different, as are the students eager to learn. They stimulate one another. I often tell others that when they consider what college to attend. I had the good fortune to attend one that is considered high on that list. If asked what was different about it, I would say the competition from a highly motivated student body rather than any real difference in the material offered or the faculty who offered it.

    That, more than anything else, i believe accounts for the high percentage of Asian students as top performers in most of our high schools. I would bet, that in most cases, they also come from two parent families where Dads are present and great role models as such.

  102. I attended Stuy in the late 70s, when commercial test prep and cram schools did not exist, and when most kids did not study for the SHSAT (or the SAT for that matter).

    Since then, the rise of expensive commercial test prep providers, alongside a large increase in immigration of people from countries such as China and Korea where cramming for entrance exams is endemic to the culture has created a test-prep arms race. The test no longer separates kids of similar (non) prep and achievement from each other. Rather, it filters kids economically and culturally. This is not meritocracy.

    The answer is to devise an admissions process that is not so completely susceptible to kind of prep that now dominates. I'm skeptical of the DeBlasio proposal, though. I would prefer to see the prep issue addressed directly, which could be accomplished by regular changes in the test format itself. For instance, a test covering fewer topics, but with long-form questions, and with content changed significantly from year to year would render prep and test-taking and guessing strategy less effective and would better showcase student's actual abilities.

  103. Prep does not have to be expensive. My daughter was admitted to Bronx Science. Her prep: a book from Barnes and Noble.

  104. I like most of my friends came from a lower middle class family. After Bronx Science, I went to CCNY (because it was all we could afford) and then onto a PhD. Even though I am now a scientist working at a prestigious research institute, I still feel that Bronx Science was the most rigorous environment I've experienced that set the stage for future success.
    To admit students who are not prepared into these schools is to set up failure: either the students will fail because they are not prepared or Science and Stuyvesant will fail because they will need to reduce their rigor.
    And what makes this proposal more appalling is the blatant motivation to penalize Asians for their achievement.
    As others have said, let's work on improving elementary and middle schools to give all students the skills they need to succeed.

  105. I graduated from Bx Science in 1956 and went on to NYU (Ph.D. 1963). I studied in Leiden (NL) and the University of Iceland. I, too, feel the best and most rigorous part of my education was at Science.

  106. Thank you for mentioning one of the other best schools in the world. No one is complaining there about diversity.

  107. Say what you will about de Blasio (I am not a fan), but I don't understand why this is so controversial. We should all be deeply concerned that a public school's demographic makeup is mindbogglingly misaligned with the City's demographic makeup. These are the same discussions we have at the university level but flipped on its head. We should certainly ask ourselves why this might be. If one is to believe in nurture rather than nature (as I do), then you would suspect that many African-American and Hispanic students are systematically excluded from many opportunities along the way, whatever those opportunities may be, culminating in poor test scores on the admissions test. I would love to see the relative performance of the middle schools Stuyvesant's students attended vs. average schools for African-American and Hispanic students. I would wager a bet that the gap would be disheartening. Is this the solution we've been waiting for? No, but it's going to take a long, long time to fix the root cause and it's unfair to have to make these young students wait. This is a start.

  108. It is not a "start" to put ill equipped students in over their heads at an elite high school. University's have the luxury of drawing students from all over the country so diversity is more feasible. Of course, DeBlasio can always cut the expected performance from the student body at the same time and then cheer about what a good move he's made.

  109. I agree fully with the author that talent and hard work should be rewarded and am definitely not a fan of blindly taking the top x% of schools across the city. That said, the author's notion that the test "best determines whether or not you can do the academic work" is highly questionable.

    In particular, as the talent and hard-work of students is increasingly directed towards skills involved in test-taking, we produce students who are better prepared to take tests than to acquire in depth knowledge or the skills to apply it.

    I am nevertheless in favor of testing and objective measurement. Although there may not be any easy answers, I think we should consider our assessment process very carefully so that we don't gloss over areas where tests fail to adequately assess talent, hard-work, and potential.

  110. Have you ever looked at the Stuyvesant test? It isn't the sort of thing you can prepare a kid for by teaching to the test. The questions are subtle and probing. They demand, not so much knowledge of facts, as critical intelligence creatively applied. In order to do well, you need more than a big vocabulary. You need to be able to read for meaning and to reason about what you read. You need to have mastered middle-school math, and you need to be able to use that knowledge to solve fairly sophisticated problems. The Stuyvesant test is as unlike the No Child Left Behind tests as chess is to tic-tac-toe.

  111. A leading city, like New York, needs a few high schools where top-achieving students can motivate each other without the distractions of those more interested in competitions other than academic. Admission should continue to be based on academic merit using a standard test open to all, as it is now. That said, turning New York's Elite 8 or Fine 9 (take your pick) into open enrollment ordinary high schools is simply not likely to improve overall quality of the city's public school system. Instead it's more likely to lower overall performance by sending a message, "Be the best in the worst school is the easy route to success." to under-achievers who really need help - in academic content and maybe also in motivation. The Mayor's idea would be laughable were the consequences so dire.

  112. The writer contradicts himself in a big way. He starts off saying "The facilities and the teachers at Stuyvesant were not materially different from any other New York City public school," and then states that it was being surrounded by bright and motivated students that made all the difference.

    Then, he basically says that in fact, there are big material differences between public schools, that have failed to educate certain students. However, isn't it more likely that the failure of top students at certain schools to pass the tests is indicative of their surroundings? Elevating these students to more advanced and prestigious schools is what will make "all the difference" in their lives.

    A smart and motivated student won't achieve the same level of success if she is surrounded by peers who are struggling with school. Take that same student and put her in an elite school, and she will achieve far more.

  113. It is just as likely that the failure of top students to pass the tests is indicative of the achievement of the students. It's a big problem to just assume that the failure is attributable to "surroundings". Yes, a student who is surrounded by peers who are struggling with school can achieve at the same level.

  114. The failure of the best students who don't make is the lack of preparation for the test. This is a failure of parenting and self motivation. I was self motivated to study for the test and when I was, I made it in with my parent's help. A first generation black engineer and an immigrant who drove a taxi.

  115. So what makes Stuyvesant so special? Faculty, computer resources, supplied tissue for restrooms? Perhaps the simplest thing to do is rotate teachers from school to school and give each student the benefit of equal resources and supplies? Are good teachers being rewarded? Is a good teacher the one who has all A students, or the one who has raised the grades of students from failing to B-? Before we say "we'd love to do that, but we just don't have the money," consider how much wealth leaves the city every day in non-recouped ground rent; i.e., socially created land value that no person or company deserves to keep.

  116. I can assure you that it is NOT computers or resources that make Stuyvesant special. I am a former sales rep for interactive whiteboards and other educational technology... and I would never think to waste my time calling on Stuy. As all reps who sell to NYC DOE schools know, the better a school's academics, the less funding they had. No Resolution A funds, no School Improvement Grants, no Title 1 money... truly an under-resourced place.

  117. I don't think you know what you are talking about

  118. If the goal is to get better representation of black and Hispanic students at top NYC schools, why not start voluntary, low-cost SHSAT test prep and tutoring classes at majority black and Hispanic schools? Surely Bill Gates or Michael Bloomberg could make that happen. Allowing students automatic admission creates the perception, fair or not, that they did not earn their place in the school. Policies like this got us Trump.

  119. That has been tried, no cost tutoring, and the kids did not want to put in the time required for summers or weekends.

  120. It exists. Participation has been very low for said under-represented groups.

  121. I have a suggestion: Set up a new school according to De Blasio's specs and admissions procedures, and keep Stuyvesant as is. Do a long-term evaluation study. See which school produces more accomplished and successful graduates. See if the two schools maintain equivalent standards of excellence.

  122. This is a no brainer. Get the quality up of the middle schools first
    and run a lottery for the top percentage of all the middle schools
    for a small handful of slots of students who do not qualify on the test. See how well they do.

  123. Obviously one test is not the best measure for determining who should go to these specialized High Schools. Some very intelligent people are not the best test taker's. While the Mayor's new approach may have some flaws it is not more flawed that the current system and may create more diverse High Schools.

  124. Not a NYC resident, but the parent of a gifted child, now at Oxford. I understand DeBlasio and the Chancellor's dilemma. But it's misplaced. The issue is that there is likely a test prep cottage industry around that one exam and the leg up it provides families with the resources to access it. More well to do families provide all manner of enrichment opportunities that poorer families simply can't. There isn't an easy answer but cutting out the exam isn't and shouldn't be the approach. The spectrum of schools in NYC is pretty broad and the outcomes and level of education varies. Assuming that the top 10% or 5% of graduates from all schools are at the same level of readiness is absurd. Public school kids deserve the ability to earn access to schools with reputations equivalent to an Andover, Phillips Exeter or a Choate. Stuyvesant has that - don't ruin it.

    Instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water why not establish and FUND a true "gifted and talented" program. Provide the enhanced enrichment opportunities to those children that are in struggling schools. Don't make the mistake of assuming that the proposed plan will solve the problem of access, but it will take away from the school as a whole as resources are diverted. These gifted kids need a place to go that quite honestly caters to their special needs.

  125. When my father went to City College in the 30s, it was 90% Jewish. When I went in the 60s, it was perhaps 50% Jewish. Now it is maybe 15% Jewish.

    Times change. Ethnic groups come and go. Quotas aren't the answer.

  126. And compare City College's reputation today with that of the 1930s or 60s.

  127. Was it ever 90% black and Latino? 50%? Even 15%?

  128. This is not a good comparison.

    In the 30's, and to a lesser extent in the 60's, the Ivy League and other "top tier" schools around the country were systematically biased against Jews. City College was a rare haven that did not actively discriminate against them. As other schools became more accepting, talented Jewish students started going elsewhere

    There is no such parallel here.

  129. Stuyvesant itself does not confer any advantage to kids who would have gotten in anyway - this has been empirically confirmed (and written about by the NYT's own Seth Stephens-Davidowitz...). Put another way, if kids who would have passed the test anyway are now forced to go some other school, their outcomes are not worse. This observation has also held at ivy leagues - kids who got accepted to Harvard and chose not to go do as well as Harvard alums in the long run. The exception, interestingly, is for underrepresented minorities - a black student is much better off taking the harvard slot than going to a state school.

    So, what we know is that admitting fewer qualified students to Stuy will actually not change the outcomes for the kids who would have gotten in but now have to go elsewhere. It also won't change the outcomes for the kids who would have been in under any scenario. However, it is likely it will improve outcomes for the under-qualified (and yes, they are under-qualified!) underrepresented minorities who are admitted.

    While I personally hate the idea of Stuy not being completely merit-based (particularly as an Asian person!), I have to conclude from the research that the policy that has the best outcomes for NYC kids, in aggregate, is probably actually DeBlasios.

    That said, the author here is totally correct that the real solution is to have much better public elementary and middle schools that teach what these kids need to know. realistic is that?

  130. So because the public union infested teachers and city government can't fix elementary and middle schools, you want to force meritorious asian american kids to be forcibly removed from the few working schools. And you also cook a fable to justify this forcible taking away of opportunity from the deserving.

  131. The idea that it's considered unfair that people study after school and during the summer for a test is just pathetic. That's what students are supposed to do. That's what parents are supposed to encourage. This is one of the chief things about today's progressive activism that bothers me to no end. Decades ago, having an intact family that cares about their child's education was a baseline expectation. Today it is treated as it it is an obscene privilege and that any difference in academic performance stemming from it is unearned, illegitimate. It's not like these kids are buying their way into Harvard; they are studying for an exam. In the mayor's view, families like this should be penalized for simply being themselves and doing their best to do right by their kids. When conservatives criticize the left as being out of touch, are they completely wrong?

    The kids that get into Stuyvesant deserve to be there because they literally earned it via their testing scores. We should be grateful that there are people in our city so motivated and engaged; they will be great assets in the future. For students who didn't get it; sorry. It's a selective school; not everyone is going to get in anyway.

  132. I'm Hispanic and Native American and find De Blasio's sort of thinking categorically racist. It continues to astonish me that somehow it isn't absurd to suggest that black and Hispanic students, many of whom also have absolutely ZERO connection to a history of racism or discrimination in the US being largely first generation, are incapable of studying or that these families can't put in place the same structures as poor, immigrant, Asian families do. If in fact they cannot, we need to address that - not gerrymander the outcomes.

  133. "Decades ago, having an intact family that cares about their child's education was a baseline expectation. Today it is treated as if it is an obscene privilege and that any difference in academic performance stemming from it is unearned, illegitimate."

    Great comment, Nick. A perfect distillation of how the idea of privilege has been distorted and misrepresented. Bravo.

  134. Let's see some data. What's the correlation between the student's admission test score and his/her GPA? How much more time/money are Asian students spending to prep for the exam than are Black/Hispanic students?

    Also, it's a bit puzzling to me why the test is the SOLE criteria. Why aren't middle school grades at least a factor? It seems like at least a useful data point. Aptitude isn't the only thing that determines high school success. Diligence is pretty important too. One would think that middle school grades give a decent indication of diligence.

  135. Absolutely!

  136. My brother went to Stuyvesant in the 70s. We were a middle class family and my brother came from a public junior high in Queens. DeBlasio's plan to dumb down the student body in the name of political correctness is appalling.

  137. So, let me get this straight. Asians, who suffered plenty of historical discrimination (Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, Japanese internment durring World War 2), and who continue to suffer violence and discrimination (Vincent Chin in Detroit, the two Indian-American engineers in Kansas last year), are ask to bear the burden of past sins and "white privilege" against African- Americans and ethnically white Hispanics, all in the name of racial justice?

    Pandering hypocracy by Mayor to curry votes. Or worst yet, Progressive racism laid bare.

  138. [[Pandering hypocracy by Mayor to curry votes. Or worst yet, Progressive racism laid bare.]]

    "Curry"...I see what you did there.

    Anyway, the best thing you can teach children is that the world is competitive. The world is also unfair, but most of what transpires is based on preparation and hard work.

    I feel that to young people all the up, be eager, say yes to everything and you're as good as gold.

    The mayor's wife is from West Indian stock and I can tell you for a fact that West Indians do not play around when it comes to education. They are not concerned about quotas or percentages...the child will perform as expected or there will be consequences.

    I invite you to also talk to the children of Nigerian immigrants. Ask a Nigerian kid if skipping school is an option or if C's and D's are acceptable. The answers are "no" and "no."

    The point is, immigrant parents demand more of their children and the results are evident in test scores and placements.

  139. Am surprised that de Blasio still tolerates the name "Stuyvesant." That man was the top slave driver for the Dutch West Indies, based on the island of Curacao. He did so well that the Dutch Government then promoted him to Mayor of New Amsterdam.

  140. The fact that "Asians make up 75 percent of Stuyvesant students and 62 percent of specialized high school students overall" puzzles me.

  141. Why would it puzzle you? Most Asian American schoolkids have intact families with two parents and there is cultural emphasis on education to get ahead in life. This is simply not true for the African American kids in NYC, where the majority are raised by single moms.

  142. What deBlasio is doing is turning Democrats into Republicans.

  143. This is obtuse, considering the author is the founder of two schools that meet out inappropriately harsh punishments to its students, focus an insane amount of time on prepping for standardized tests and regularly discriminates against ELL and students with special needs.

  144. Richard Carranza, the mayor’s new schools chancellor, put it this way: “I just don’t buy into the narrative that any one ethnic group owns admission to these schools.”

    For anyone who want to move beyond simply opining about how race and racism is driving this dicussion, an excellent answer to the issue at question can be found in the book "What Truth Sounds Like: RFK, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America" by Michael Eric Dyson.

  145. Whoever study harder and get better score on tests should get in regardless of race. Stop punishing people who study harder!!!!!!

  146. Why do you assume that kids who do the best in their middle schools don't "study harder"? Perhaps they can't afford tutors to help them study. Perhaps they have to work to support their families. The prejudice underlying so many of the comments on this article is truly disheartening.

  147. why not punish people who study harder? We punish people who are poor athletes; it's what America does. Punish everyone who isn't the same.

  148. I totally agree with Boaz Weinstein, except that I would question Stuyvesant being the best High School in NYC.

    For a hint about my choice: What do all Hunter HS and Stuyvesant HS students have in common? They all took the Hunter exam.

    Seriously, thank you for a passioned and insightful article.

  149. In the field of education, "diversity" is the ultimate goal. Not educating children, but diversity.

    The same thing is happening in my town with our own version of these elite schools. The school that is #1 in the state should be the "jewel in the crown" of our school district, but instead has had multiple Superintendents of Schools and others try to change it to admit more underrepresented minorities.

    I loved the comment "I quickly learned that the magic of the place, then as now, was its cohort of incredibly bright kids encouraged by camaraderie and competition to push themselves to succeed." This is exactly what happens at our elite high school. They feed off one another.

    At the graduation ceremony this year, the principal shared some statistics about our school. A huge number (can't remember the percentage) were not born in the US and came from over 14 different countries, many with names I could barely pronounce or find on a map. Yet the school is criticized for the admission process being "too complicated" for minority families (it's not a single test admission). Too complicated? So all these families not only figured out how to get out of their country of origin, but get to the US and then to our city, and then apply to this school? But families who live less than a mile from this HS find the admission process too difficult?

    PD James had a character in a book talk about "...the assault on excellence by naming it elitism". And it IS an assault.

  150. can't these kids who feed off one another, feed other kids?

  151. Diversity—of thought, of background, of experiences, of ethnicity, of culture, of color, of class, etc.—IS an education, whether those of whatever privilege or ability or color, like it or not.

  152. I graduated from Stuyvesant in 1959. The school was in an old building near Stuyvesant Town. It was not coed. The principal, Leonard J. Fliedner, was a hack; someone pasted little fortune-cookie-sized pieces of paper in the stairwells that said "Scratch out the Flea". The teachers were of varied quality, but the students were excellent in both intelligence and spirit.

    The best public high school (judged by number of National Merit Scholarships) was Bronx High School of Science, which was coed. Other outstanding schools were Brooklyn Tech, Hunter (affiliated with Hunter College), Regis (Catholic), and Erasmus Hall, a regional high school that drew from the Flatbush area of Brooklyn and was famously tough.

    If students are admitted to Stuyvesant who cannot keep up, everybody will know this and it will not work educationally or socially. The city needs to pay as much attention to preparing students with great potential as it does to students with disabilities, so that their talents are developed and they are ready to compete to get into a special school and succeed there.

  153. My kids would not have been smart enough to get into Stuyvesant...they're fine kids, just not academic superstars. That said, I am thrilled and proud that a school like Stuyvesant exists in the same way that I'm proud of climbers who make it to the top of Everest even when a 10-mile stroll on flat streets is about as much as I can do.

  154. Equal opportunity is no guarantee of equal results. This is a move to try and equalize results, and it will fail.

  155. No one said the goal was equal results. The goal IS equal opportunity.

  156. Test results definitely indicate how well the student did on that test. Going far beyond that is a stretch.

  157. You lost me at "...for the top students at every middle school regardless of their abilities." Those who do well in school ARE the most able - and have demonstrated that better than those who do well on a single standardized test. The city will be better off rewarding those kids who have studied hard and have the grades to show for it. I commend the mayor for taking this action.

    P.S.: Although I don't live in NYC now, I'm a product of NYC public schools, and my mother taught in them her whole professional life.

  158. Here's what is very likely to happen if the mayor's plan is enacted. Rich smart kids will go to some elite schools, which will get even better. These schools will give scholarships to really bright poor kids. Stuyvesant will dwindle in a decade or so. Just hard facts.

  159. unfortunately true. look what happened to the old CCNY - once, when my father graduated in 1932, considered level with ivy league...the rest is history.

  160. And sadly, those scholarship will benefit far fewer bright poor kids than Stuyvesant and the other elite schools ever did.

  161. Really bright poor kids are already offered scholarships by private schools.

  162. I did not make it into stuyvesant when I first took the test in 8th grade. Then, you could retake in 9th grade for admission in your sophmore year. The second time I took the test, my stepfather sat me down for a week and helped me through the study guide every day for two hours. Any parent can do this. It is not rocket science. I made exactly the cut off score and was admitted.

  163. No, not every parent can. Every parent can try though. I volunteered in adult literacy in the City of Cleveland, where fully 2/3 of the adult population is functionally illiterate, that is to say not reading at a 6th grade level. I worked with the tireless Sister of Notre Dame. Our learners ranged in age from 18 to 60, all with a goal of getting their GED. Many were caring for both children and frail parents. Something I learned from the nuns was that, whether or not a parent obtained the GED, the very act of learning improved the outcome for the child. This leads me to believe in three things:
    1) hold the parent or guradian in unconditional positive regard
    2) make room in the struggling public school for adult education
    3) parents may be not helping their chidren out of shame over their own lack of education. I believe the positive interaction between the adult learner and the tutor restores that adult's self-esteem and gives them confidence to be a better guiding star to their child.

  164. "I got to sit next to Omar Jadwat in metal shop, Gary Shteyngart in homeroom, Naval Ravikant in history, and Ruvim Breydo in physics, and that made all the difference."

    Is it actually "fair" (whatever that means) or, perhaps a better question, healthy for our society to have these super-institutions where the student body is exponentially better than other schools? My point is this: when you actually meet people from Stuyvesant, their view of life is jaded. Anything less than riches or a prestigious career, an apartment in Manhattan or SF in your twenties, etc. is a step down. These people then go on to places like the University of Chicago, where they teach their striving peers who went to "lesser" high schools to see the world similarly. My experience going to "elite" institutions is this is part of a broader concern. You take all of these exponentially more fortunate kids (note: more fortunate, not necessarily more talented) and bring them together and it becomes a bubble. Forget about diversity of experience. Would it be better for society if we didn't concentrate wealth and ability in so few schools? These people come away with such skewed versions of the world and thinking, to quote the author, "I believe that admission to the school was one of the seminal events of my life." Should we really think of where we went to high school or college as the defining moments in our lives? What about higher causes or civic responsibility?

  165. You are painting with an awfully broad brush. "When you actually meet people from Stuyvesant, their view of life is jaded"? Are you talking about 1 person, 2, 3? Of the 3,000 plus that are studying at Stuyvesant at any given time -- the 850 or so that it graduates every year? I know dozens of current and former Stuyvesant students, and though are generally an ambitious group, the subject matter of their ambitions varies widely, from achieving education reform to improving medical services in underserved areas of the world to providing broader access to legal services in their own communities to preventing Alzheimers, and yes, in a few cases, to success in business or finance. Putting talented, ambitious people together does create a bubble, but it's not an isolating bubble that keeps things out; it's a very salutary bubble of shared and complementary ambitions, skills, interests, and the like, in which kids who are more or less fortunate in their ZIP code, economic background, or other demographic attributes all get to benefit from one another's talents. We can't make people contribute to higher causes or exercise civic responsibility, but we can ensure that those who enter high school with the greatest prospects for making such contributions have a great chance to realize those prospects.

  166. Study and prepare for the test. Those that do well deserve to be admitted. Those that don't need to work harder.

  167. Admitting students whose poor test scores show they are woefully unprepared for the high level of instruction and competition at Stuyvesant can only result in failure for the great majority of these students. This is in no way doing these students a favor.

    However, some people (e.g., the mayor) cannot see beyond political correctness to understand what a disservice lessening standards will create.

    The only truly equitable approach is to improve public schools at pre-high school levels so that students of all races and backgrounds will have a meaningful opportunity to compete for openings at the elite high schools.

  168. And how do you plan to do that, short of going into their homes & making sure their families are intact and non-violent, that they have enough money that they don't have to work after school, that they don't have to babysit because their parents are working 2 jobs, or at odd hours, etc.?

  169. It would be a colossal mistake to stop allowing top high schools to admit students based on merit alone.

  170. Well, "polymath," what makes you believe that a single test is the sole way to discern "merit"? Why don't grades matter?

  171. To compare the Stuyvesant test to the SAT is risible. The SAT is rapidly fading as a metric of admission at elite schools and, at my institution, is completely optional. The better parallel is a junior version of the Chinese university entrance exam. In that pressure cooker, everything from cram schools to outright cheating is used to snare admission. De Blasio's plan is better. Admit the top students in each school, not the test prep grinders.

  172. Can't test prep grinders be successful people? Why the hate?

  173. I live in Brooklyn Chinatown (but not an Asian) where there are dozens of private prep schools that are open 7 days a week. The schools are so busy that it is hard to find a spot. You could tell that people who bring their kids there are mostly poor immigrants from China. They work insane hours to be able to spend almost every penny in education of their kids.

    The Mayor, to whom I disagree on many other issues (feud with the Governor, thin-skinned relationship with the press, use of Park Slope gym during business days, etc.) is wrong on this issue, too. Instead of designing programs to motivate the parents and families of Black and Latino kids who are apparently lagging in school, he is punishing kids and families who are making an outstanding effort to succeed.

    Again, the merit principle is being thrown out of window for the benefit of scoring political points with Black and Latino voters.

  174. You really think this is about scoring political points and not about trying to right the wrongs against brown children in our public school system? You think this is because their families lack motivation? That's just absurd.

  175. I've said it before, but it bears repeating. Whatever your kid gets at school should be the bare minimum in terms of an education. If there aren't books in the home and if the parents aren't riding their kids like rented mules, then there is no reason to expect that the child will get into an elite high school of excel in high school and beyond.

    There would have been hellfire in my house - and I mean an Apache Hellfire missile - if I cut classes or didn't keep my grades up.

    There are areas where government might need to step in and level a playing field...if a hiring program is rigged to favor people with insider connections and results in biased outcomes, for example.

    But it sounds like the results here are based on who is willing to put in the time and work.

  176. UGH!

    [[Whatever your kid gets at school should be the bare minimum in terms of an education.]]

    should be *considered* the bare minimum in terms of an education.

  177. We need to stop lowering standards in an effort to be more inclusive. In the end this doesn't help anyone, especially those that we're supposed to be helping. My son teaches college English. One of the English courses he teaches is a college-level English preparatory class. If we have to teach students basic English at a college level, we have failed.

  178. If as the article states, the key is the quality of the other students rather than the teachers or facilities, then just open another specialized NYC high school and admit students there based on the Mayor's new criteria. Also, make sure there is free or low cost assistance for students who want to prep for the current test during the year or two before it is administered. But don't break an existing system that works well.

  179. I’m not a New Yorker, but I once had a chance to study NYC’s system of elite high schools some years ago, and frankly, the idea of having elite public schools seems patently anti-egalitarian. I would say I’m surprised they they persist in a supposedly progressive place like New York, but I’ve learned not to be surprised by the perpetuation of elitism.

    Good for De Blasio for making this reform.

  180. I guess it depends what you mean by egalitarian. Exam schools are anti-egalitarian only if your conception of egalitarianism leaves no room for individual achievement, a la Harrison Bergeron.

  181. A couple of years ago, Farook Chaudry, former head of Dance UK quit, because, he said, the UK’s top contemporary dance schools were failing to produce the dancers they needed . . . top choreographers complained they were being forced to recruit overseas-trained dancers because standards here had dropped. He said:

    "It's hurtful and it hurts me as well to say it, because I care profoundly about dance and there's a lot of very talented people I love and respect in this industry.

    "But sometimes we can be too nice to each other and these are issues that do need to be addressed."

    He added: "I think students are being mollycoddled. I think they are being treated too much with a light touch."

    Egalitarianism is about a level playing field. Once on the field, however, or the stage, or trying to pass the bar exam, it's about what you can do.

    That's not elitism. That's reality.

  182. Suppose we were talking about a camp to develop the world's best tennis players. Wouldn't we have tryouts and give the spots to the best players? No matter that one player has spent his whole life preparing for the tryout--he (or she) has earned her prize. If we want to offer better education to disadvantaged young people, we need to offer them other schools made for that purpose. To use the tennis analogy, maybe they will become champs if given the right training--but the elite tennis camp is not the place for preparatory training.

  183. That's a faulty comparison. If a student without experience in tennis showed up at the tryouts, but showed outstanding athleticism, flexibility, hand-eye coordination and speed, I'd bet they'd bring him/her in to build a champion.

  184. I can understand opening more special schools and having special opportunities in schools, but to disadvantage bright, hard-working students for the sake of "diversity" strikes me as wrong. I obviously would not have competed successfully for a special high-school music school, but I fit well in a different special school.

    Expand opportunities for the finest of educational opportunities in different areas, but not at the expense of a particular school.

  185. I wonder if Einstein could pass the NYC test. He had dyslexia and failed his entrance exams except for what he was interested in such as science and math. His professor in his interview saw the potential in him when admitting him to Polytechnical institute. Of course his curiosity was sky high and he knew what to and what not to believe in from past science. As a teen he gained confidence helping his father with electrical magnetic snafus in his factory when only a teen. We need a better mousetrap than the one that exists but not the Mayor's proposal. By the way my brother attended Brooklyn Tech while we lived in a housing project and was 1 year younger than his peers and was not a racial minority. If we follow the Mayor's proposal we should expand the enrollment and not keep out those who passed the test.

  186. I submit that Stuyvesant's admissions policy is notably egalitarian, as Boaz points out, except in regards to family and community upbringing.

    It helps 1) to know about the test, 2) to prepare for it, and 3) to have a scholastic background that will contribute to test success. I was fortunate enough to enjoy these and in the 90s I joined my uncle and nephews as an alum.

    For readers who share the goal of making Stuyvesant and the other test-based admissions schools more broadly socially-representative, while maintaining their academic quality, I propose the NYC school system could offer all students the previously-mentioned three items. The second and third items, in particular, would help most students, no matter their luck on test day.

    Venerated public institutions are hard to build, but easy to destroy. I hope Boaz will press his publicity on this issue and offer some way for concerned alumni to offer constructive input.

  187. If points 1, 2, and 3 were actual (among the abolishment of other inequities) for all students, then this conversation would never be taking place.

  188. Here's another discouraging thought about Mr. Carranza's statement: it's complete repudiation that, indeed, there are differences in academic ability. Did noone tell Mr. Carranza that life isn't fair? You can do your best to ameliorate the results of inequity, but you can't make it go away by ignoring its existence. And all this at a time when jobs requiring little or no skill are disappearing rapidly. Does he truly think that pretending that everyone is suited for intellectual achievement is going to raise everyone to a level where they can snag a highly skilled career?
    I saw the "gifted" program in my small city that did well by my children completely demolished when it was suddenly expanded to include a more diverse student body. Criteria such as ability to bead hair was suddenly an intellectual achievement. The excellent gifted teacher quit, abruptly, one afternoon after being lectured by her principal about the unfairness of requiring homework when not everyone had parents at home who could help. But everyone is very pleased with their gold stars and banners. Except those who have fled to the charter schools.

  189. Differences in academic ability appears to be a political hot potato. My children are by some but not all measures, "privileged," as I have been a single mom since their birth. While excellent academic performers, neither would likely have the test scores to get into SHS, and moreover, the high pressure environment SHS students thrive on would crush them. They need a different academic environment to thrive. Is it because I'm white that I don't see my children having a chance at SHS as unfair? I'd like like to think that it's simply the wrong environment for them, even if they should do well enough to make the cut off. I'm sure there are many other "privileged" families who also recognize the SHS are not the right fit for their children. Leave the SHS to the students that will thrive there.

  190. Questions for Mayor de Blasio:

    What is more important, diversity or excellence?

    Where does our desire for diversity sit on our hierarchy of values?

    Is it okay to require diversity within an organization, even when doing so reduces that organization's effectiveness?

    Is the only just society one where every organization and area of endeavor looks like an advertisement for the United Colors of Bennetton?

    Do you consider the Knicks' off-season practice a disgraceful attempt to try to "game" the NBA?

    Aren't you concerned that they have yet to call me, a 5' 6" middle aged white guy, up to play center forward?

  191. You seem to be implying that you CAN'T have both diversity and excellence. And that diversity is inherently of less value than other qualities you deem important.

  192. I attended an elite university where something similar to what Mayor DeBlasio is suggesting has been taking place for some time. That is to say that "the best" that each state could graduate found admission to the institution in the same general proportion that their population bears to the overall country.

    The results were predictable: The quality of the education across high schools varied so greatly as to produce graduates who - while top students in their own high school - were simply outmatched when compared to top graduates from other schools.

    Unfortunately, college isn't the place to address the shortcomings of high school, just as high school is not the place to address the shortcomings of the curriculum that preceded it. In that sense, the Mayor's proposal is nothing more than a band-aid trying to cover up a gaping wound.

  193. Sure, blame the teachers and ignore the structural inequalities. That will help! (Not.)

  194. As a person who sees an inordinate amount of test prep going on in our neighborhood on hot summer days when these kids could be out enjoying life, I am strongly in favor of the Mayor's proposals. Yes, back in the day you could be a great student, take the test and have an excellent chance of admission. Or you could be a naturally good test taker and still have a good chance. But in 2018, the test requires practice sessions to get familiar with the way the answers are wanted on this particular test. And a good number of students who are accepted by one high test score are not ready for rigorous work on a daily basis as they are not on this level academically otherwise. These students who are maybe B+ or A- students would be MUCH better off at a local high school and not have the pressure of these elite schools. The locals HS's would benefit but have a stronger top percent of achievers.
    However, the Discovery program which takes in those who score just under the cutoff and has them do a summer program with close supervision is wildly successful and the students are genuinely appreciative is what I hear. It would be this type of supportive program in the summer for accepted students from the various middle schools that would prepare these kids for the rigor to come. Teachers currently working in SHSET schools that I know like the Mayors program and I personally think their voices from the inside should count mightily in getting this change for more diversity made.

  195. I do not quite understand the point of this letter writer. that students are commiting themselves to study in the summer is not applauded; the OP would rather see all students spending their summer playing rather than studying and trying to learn. perhaps this is a symptom of America's decline and why we need immigrants who know how to work for what they want and know how to delay gratification. the contention that students who "only" study for the test may find themselves unsuited for the demands of an academically rigorous high school may prove true. however, if the student is willing to work hard and study through the summer, chances are that they are more suited than the student who wants to "enjoy" themselves and has not had to experience rigorous discipline in order to test in.

  196. Whom do you wish that the Discovery students replace, given that places are limited? And would the practice sessions be available to Asian students eligible for free or reduced lunch? Or just to those students from low achieving middle schools, I.e., schools that are majority Black and Hispanic ?

  197. First of all, your words fail to explain why some students can't pass even state exam. "but at 80 middle schools — or one out of every six — not even 7 percent of seventh graders passed the state math exam." Now mayor offers discount tickets so that those unable to pass state exam could go to selective schools. How ridiculous it is!

    Secondly, test prep is not the key. Actually, after years of efforts to expand free test prep programs and expand access to the test in underrepresented schools have not increased the share of black and Hispanic students.

    Only smart and hard-working kids entitle the admission.
    No ethnic group, including white, black, latino, and Asian American, owns.

  198. The Civil Rights Movement of the1960's was about equal opportunity for all, an antidote to centuries of favoring whites. Today the demand is for equal outcomes, regardless of effort or ability. Recognizing and rewarding excellence has been abandoned; getting the color scheme right is all that matters.

  199. This is what happens when diversity instead of individual success becomes the mantra. Humans are different by nature. Let the very best be pushed by their talents, not retarded by idealogy.

  200. "Instead of complaining, as he has, that the admissions test invites so-called gaming in the form of preparing for it after school and during summers ..."

    This abject dismissal of de Blasio's complaint is no dismissal at all. It makes no attempt to address issues of unfairness that the protesters have pointed out: Some families can afford test prep courses for their students, which undoubtedly can help admission; other families cannot.

    This problem is not so hard to fix; it is not necessary to destroy Stuyvesant in order to save it. Just provide test prep to any New York City students planning to take the special high school admission tests.

  201. I believe that free test prep was already put into place a few years ago, but failed to increase the number of non-Asian minorities.
    It's not the test that is holding these kids back. It's poor elementary and middle school education.

  202. It's become difficult to talk about these sorts of issues lately, but outcomes vary by race because of enormous cultural factors.

    Many Asian countries - especially S. Korea and China along with Japan - are known for having an extremely high-pressure test in high school that essentially determines people's futures. (Han Dynasty China actually invented the standardized test)

    When Asians arrive, they bring cultural values that are strongly aligned both with education in general and with high-stakes standardized testing in particular. Asian-American families are very effective both at pressuring their children to study and at teaching them how to study.

    They're also better at staying together and being helpful in the first place - they have high rates of having both parents in the household even if poor, a situation that is much less common for black, Hispanic, and poor white students. The latter are much more likely to grow up in broken homes, and to face a hostile environment for education more generally.

    The result: in schools where test scores are the only admission criterion, people of East Asian descent are dramatically overrepresented compared even to white students, who themselves are highly overrepresented compared to Hispanic and black students, of whom there will be very few.

    The best answer probably is to set aside about 25% of the seats for the highest-performing 1 or 2% of students in each school district, and then to use the exam to allocate the remainder.

  203. Basically true, but one correction: in high-poverty pockets of Asian immigrants (NYC's fastest-growing community of low-income residents), it is not uncommon that the parents are not physically present. Sometimes the kids are on their own for stretches at a time, or with a relative, while the parents are in another city or state, working in, say, the low-pay restaurant industry. Or, they may not even be in the country. However, emphasis on education is retained and enforced, even if parents are not present.

  204. I agree with the author's larger premise. however, consider this:
    Because their parents earn less, work longer hours, face more abuse by the police, find it harder to get a mortgage, had less access to education themselves etc...
    please understand that large numbers of the Asian immigrants testing for Stuy and Bronx Science are often first generation themselves. their parents are equally poor, work long hours, earn less, rent (no mortgage), and do not speak English to boot. what they do have is a belief in the power of education and a social/cultural commitment to that belief. note that African and Hispanic immigrants share these same commitments. that difference explains why Cornell's BSU wanted to deny affirmative action to all but n-tj generation African Americans.
    the history of racism, as the OP notes, creates systemic barriers to n-th generation URMs in America. a solution will need to address those barriers so that in the long run, everyone is incentivized to
    work for it. they will appreciate it more and they might no longer need affirmative action because of it.

  205. The author of this article is financially invested in charter schools. His empathy for those who struggle is nil and he has no idea of the impact of financial struggle on the ability to excel on intellectual and educational levels. Why trust his opinion? He wants things to stay the way they are because that has served him and his ilk. He can go ahead and blame the whole system, but that is not a solution, it's a dodge. If he really had faith in the public schools as he pretends, he would never have invested in charter schools. This opinion piece is about keeping the status quo.

  206. DeBlasio has an under-achieving middle school problem, and he needs to fix it. All he's trying to do here is shoot the messenger that is broadcasting his failures. He would rather damage Stuyvesant and rob smart kids of the education they've earned fairly than admit to the middle school problem and start fixing it.

  207. But that would take tremendous effort and years to see success, if any. BDB has won't be mayor anymore, so is focusing on short term political advantage.

  208. Welcome to progressive America in 2018, where institutionalized racism and quotas against Asian Americans is considered acceptable. It's about times that we Asians realize that progressive identity politics is anathema to the interests of outnumbered minority groups such as Asian Americans.

  209. Jonathan, these grievance groups to which one need not name, merely exist to excuse low effort and performance. They are not "progressive," unless one is referring to progress toward a set of outcomes that reflect ONLY the proportions of these groups in the general population.

    Individual effort, hard work, diligence, willingness to sacrifice current satisfactions for the achievement of goals, all of these are ignored. Maybe there is a better future for outstanding students in other places.

  210. There has to be a place for the brightest, hardworking students for they are our future of excellence. DeBlasio is so wrong about dumbing down the elite public high schools for the sake of some mythic diversity. The smartest, fastest kids need to be together to challenge each other and to not be bored, wasting their high school years. If it means, in this era, that most students are Asian, so be it. They deserve to go where their intellect fits and their work ethic. DeBlasio truly thinks that every child, if given the opportunity, can perform at an elite level. Sadly, that is not the case. There needs to be a refuge for our best and brightest. DeBlasio should improve our existing mainstream schools or, if he needs to feel that he's doing something to champion diversity, invent a new tier of schools that achieves that without destroying a the only part of the system that works well.

  211. While we're on the subject of bias, it's worth asking why girls make up 43% of the student enrollment at Bronx Science & Stuyvesant even though they slightly outnumber boys enrolled in the city as a whole. Girls graduate from both high school and university at higher rates than boys, yet this disparity remains.

  212. DeBlasio will destroy these schools if his plan goes through. What is wrong with creating a plan that helps those students pass the exam? What is wrong with teaching them math, grammar, writing, critical thinking so they can do better on the exam?

    Entrance to these schools is as objective as you can get: you take the exam, and that score is your entry or not.

    I would not object to creating some feeder middle schools that are more lenient in their entry requirements. But leave these high school jewels alone!

  213. I graduated from Stuyvesant in 2009. I can tell you that, had my parents not shelled out the money for a test prep course, I would never have been able to do well on the SHSAT. There were things on that test I'd never seen outside of my test prep course and I didn't attend a "disadvantaged" or underperforming middle school. I can also tell you that, apart from gaining my admission, the material on the SHSAT had zero bearing on what was actually taught. Doing well on that test does NOT determine whether you can do the level of academic work demanded by Stuy.

    Mr. Weinstein's assertion that "The facilities and the teachers at Stuyvesant were not materially different from any other New York City public school" is also patently untrue. Stuyvesant had tremendous resources that aren't available in other public schools, especially as relates to college prep. There were several AP courses in every subject that students could take, school-managed college trips, many of the teachers (science especially) had doctorates, and there was a tremendously rich roster of extracurricular activities, to name just a few things.

    As a hispanic woman, I've found many of my fellow alumni's responses to the proposal offensive. It's being reframed as an attack against the Asian community, which is a gross misunderstanding. Removing the test would allow top students to gain entry to Stuyvesant and all the resources it provides without the need to spend so much money prepping for an absurd test.

  214. Many of the Asian students there had far less resources than you. They made it in on their merits. Now you want to change the racial makeup of the school because it doesn't fit your utopian worldview that outcomes should always be equal. That is absolutely an attack against the Asian community.

  215. Why not rely solely on the NYS Regents exams? Are they no longer prescribed?

  216. This Op-Ed brazenly elides the very heart of the problem that the mayor seeks to address. NYC public school children do not enjoy equal access to education. Through a subtle, seemingly banal, process NYC public schools stubbornly remain some of the most racially segregated in the entire nation.
    This sorry state of affairs is so stark even the most casual observer cannot avoid it, so we must assume Mr. Weinstein, a sometime educator, is doubly familiar with it.
    Since there is racial inequality amongst the schools which putatively prep children for the daunting HS admission exam, this test--while held up high by the writer as a marker above hum drum considerations--seems not so pristine an arbiter after all.

  217. correlation is not causation. that kids who test successfully come from ethnic neighborhoods does not necessarily mean racism is at play. even if it does, hire dues the solution - admit students from less prepared schools - address the root cause of the problem. students who enter less prepared will not magically be able to compete academically. perhaps the solution lies in lifting middle school standards.

  218. The segregation is not race based.The amount of melanin in your skin is not part of the test results.If you want better diversity improve education at the middle school level.

  219. That the test reveals grave disparities in K to 8 education is not a reason to do away with the test. It is a reason to reduce the disparities. One would think this was obvious and is to those not blinded by those who see only racial categories rather than individual.

  220. Perhaps the thought that extra studying, preparation and working throughout the year somehow constitutes "gaming" the system is the attitude that should give us all cause for pause.

    Admissions testing based on merit is not discrimination.

    The abject failure of the city's public elementary and middle schools to prepare enough students to qualify is the issue.

    The failure is not the sole responsibility of the schools, their teachers or their funding.

    The failure is shared by the failing students who do not study, who do not allow education to occur and who are not serious about education.

    The failure is shared by the failing parents of those failing students who do not enforce studying and civil behavior as valued character traits of their children.

    At some point, people have to take some responsibility for themselves and their families. The families and the student body of Bed Sty do. They deserve their placements. They worked and styled their lives to enable their placements. They should be emulated, not derided as the mayor's administration appears to favor.

    It is stupidity like Mr de Blasio's that drive otherwise rationale adults to question the fairness and the objectives of progressive politics.

  221. De Blasio is a walking example of ineptitude and gaming the system to excuse his inadequate leadership of the NYC school system. If his voters' children can't make the cut, then change it.

  222. The whole point of the test was to measure aptitude, and only aptitude. You specifically acknowledge extra studying, failing schools, and failing parents as factors that determine performance on the test. These factors have nothing to do with aptitude. If performance on the test is based on factors beyond aptitude, then the test is no longer serving its purpose and we need to find a new approach.

  223. The dumbing down of the NYC education system continues unabated. It's been a 50-year-slide--this just puts the nail in the coffin.

  224. Yup David.
    NYC politicians are the lowest form of life. Their favorite ploy is to turn issues surrounding standards of excellence into racial ones. We are seeing it here and have seen it before.

    the "dumbing down" began with CUNY Open Admissions, which reduced a stellar public university to a post-high school repository for anyone who could walk.

  225. We agree with Boaz Weinstein.

  226. Mayor De Blasio is no expert in bringing up children. Look at his own personal track history.
    Leave Stuyvesant alone.

  227. I'm sure students and alumni at Midwood and Bronx Science would argue the self-proclaimed "best" status of Stuyvesant (and for that matter, perhaps the students at LaGuardia School for Music and Art.)

    And I've heard often and anecdotally that there ARE legacies and students with wealthy parents make their way into the student body.

    Study after study has proven that standardized tests, and IQ tests, are designed for an economic elite (including white kids). Look up the history of the College Board.

    While it might profit the author personally to shunt economically disadvantaged students into for-profit charter schools, where they are taught to shut up and obey orders, the "I've got mine, too bad about the other" attitude does not help NYC overall.

    It will be a process to discover the best way to identify children who have the potential to succeed. And it will probably involve more than a standardized test.

    In the long run, it will grow the school into a richer, more diverse community that has far-reaching, positive effects in every neighborhood.

  228. And Brooklyn Tech is chopped liver?!

  229. IQ scores are simple the most accurate predictors of success in difficult and complex disciplines that social scientists have devised.

    Other tests that measure knowledge and not aptitude are valuable for making intelligent comparisons on what a "B" average means at school A vs. school B.

    Cite your sources, and then I'll cite mine..

  230. Mr. Weinstein,

    Your column here is so depressing to read.

    I went to a college where the occasional classmate was a Stuyvesant alum. It was so impressive, and strangely uplifting, hearing from them their high school experience at this legendary school. Similarly, other classmates were graduates of Bronx High School of Science and that too was equally eye-opening learning about their education prior to college.

    About a year ago I randomly came across an article titled "The Left Ruins Everything It Touches" written by someone named Dennis Prager. The title shocked, offended, and angered me. But I read it.

    In the intervening time I've reluctantly come to realize that he is exactly right.

    A perfect case in point is what is happening now to Stuyvesant High.

    I'm so sorry. It's probably hopeless. You have already lost, Mr. Weinstein. It's over.

    As you say, Stuyvesant High School will disappear in everything but name.

    Again, I'm so sorry.

  231. Like Mr. Weinstein, I attended Stuyvesant. Unlike Mr. Weinstein, I believe that the specialized high school test has long since outlived its usefulness. As was the case with the SAT, the original intentions behind this test were good. A test based on innate aptitude was certainly a fairer basis for admission than the highly subjective admission methods that elite colleges and universities used for decades to avoid admitting students whose racial, socioeconomic or religious characteristics were undesirable.

    However, anyone with an understanding of "how the world works" in 2018 knows full well that - like the SAT - the specialized high school test has long since ceased to measure aptitude. Instead, it has turned into a test of who has the most resources (in terms of money, time and emotional investment) to devote to test prep. I am talking about weekly classes that start before elementary school, years of one-on-one private tutoring, organized mock exam sessions, etc. This has made a mockery of any notion that the specialized high schools are purely meritocratic institutions. In addition, the idea that the test has any connection to a student's ability to "do the work" at these schools is absurd.

    I'm not sure what should replace the specialized high school test, and Mayor De Blasio's proposal does not strike me as a viable solution. What I am sure of, however, is that pretending that the status quo is worth defending is neither realistic nor productive to the debate

  232. opening up seats to the kids who just miss the cut off score is not going to be an issue: while my son got in, I know a number of his friends who went through the same grueling multi year prep class and did not get in. Any one of them would have been a successful Stuy student. It's just that there not enough seats for all the qualified kids so the bar ends up being set artificially high.
    however, admitting kids based on their rank in middle school is problematic because so many of our middle schools are really not very good.