NAACP et al claim Stuyvesant entrance exam is racist
The NAACP's Legal Defense and Educational Fund (or NAACP LDF) and other advocacy groups have filed a complaint (perhaps timed to capitalize on Stuyvesant's cheating scandal) requesting a radical alteration of the exam-based admissions process in order to increase black and Latino enrollment. Their case is modelled on the lawsuits against exam-based admission to white-majority city agencies such as the police and fire departments, except in this case the NAACP LDF is objecting to the Asian majority (72%) at Stuyvesant. Would a judge find that Stuyvesant's exam-based admissions process violates Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act? Well, the lawsuits against the city agencies used disparate impact to shift the burden of proof from the plaintiffs to the defendants. The NAACP LDF is not contesting the racial neutrality of the SHSAT. Rather, the NAACP LDF case argues disparate impact, challenges the equity of the test-taking process and predictive validity of the objective exam, and recommends a subjective multi-measure admissions process with the goal of redistributing seats at Stuyvesant from Asian students to black and Latino students.
To replace the racially neutral SHSAT, the NAACP LDF proposes the university admissions model that discriminates against Asian applicants. A subjective admissions process that intentionally favors black and Latino students over Asian students would be racially discriminatory disparate treatment. The United States, New York State, and New York City Departments of Education are reviewing the NAACP LDF complaint, and a bill to amend the New York State education law is under review in the New York State Senate and Assembly. In June 2014, a second amendment was proposed to allocate seats "proportionate to the number of public school students in each borough".
Read the NAACP LDF complaint and press release, and the proposed amendments for multi-measure criteria and proportionate allocation in the New York Senate and Assembly. More here, here/here/here (study authors), here, here, here and here (re test prep), here, here, here, here, here, here (history lesson), here, here, here (Stuy Spec), here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here (Stuy teacher), here (Stuy parent), and here (SHSAT advocates).
The coveted success of Asians at Stuyvesant is a source of great pride - and hope - for Asian families in New York City. Asian parents believe the key to their children's future is academic achievement, and therefore hold Stuyvesant in extraordinarily high esteem, even reverence. The Asian students who earn seats at Stuyvesant typically are not rich. Lower-income immigrant Asian families in particular rely on their children testing into Stuyvesant (and the other elite exam schools) as an accessible and affordable avenue of upward mobility. In a society where Asian Americans are denied the advantages of white privilege and affirmative action, the SHSAT is an indispensable opportunity for Asian students to compete on a level playing field with a fair, color-blind, straightforward transparent standard. No disparate treatment. No suspiciously opaque subjectiveness. No white privilege. No affirmative action. No favoritism for wealth, connections, siblings, or legacy. No Asian-suppressive quota. Every Stuyvesant student from any background is qualified according to objective merit on the same standard. *
(* Yes, Rachel Kleinman, "You could win the national spelling bee. None of that matters." We're proud that even the Rebecca Sealfon '01 had to qualify on her SHSAT to go to Stuy, same as the rest of us.)
Among other troubling aspects, the NAACP LDF lawsuit is anti-Asian. I would welcome more diversity in the Stuyvesant student body, but only if each student's SHSAT score qualifies him or her for a seat at Stuyvesant. However, the NAACP LDF intends to take from Asian students the seats they would earn on the SHSAT and give those seats to unqualified students according to a predetermined ethnic division. The NAACP LDF tries to disguise its anti-Asian goal with the straw-man argument that rich white families are gaming the system with exclusive, expensive test prep courses that box out hopelessly disadvantaged minorities, when in fact, the typical Stuyvesant student is not a wealthy scion of white privilege, but rather from a lower-income immigrant Asian family without the benefit of wealth, white privilege, or affirmative action. Asian success at Stuyvesant belies the NAACP LDF's vision of minority helplessness. To marginalize Asians, the NAACP LDF resorts to the rhetorical trick of grouping together "either whites or Asian Americans".
The test prep factor is overrated, too. Asian families sacrifice, scrimp, and save to pay for test prep, a course of action that is equally available to black and Latino families. As well, affordable and even free test prep targeted at minorities is readily available. Stuyvesant alumni are actively involved in those efforts. (In my experience, taking a test prep course isn't necessary to qualify for Stuyvesant, anyway; I prepared for the SHSAT with a book I borrowed from my local library.)
Given the harm to Asian children should the NAACP LDF succeed and in light of the racist mentality driving the lawsuit, eg, "We're saying something wrong if we're saying New York City's brightest students are almost all Chinese or Korean", I am surprised and dismayed that several Asian advocacy groups have endorsed the NAACP LDF complaint. Any advocacy group or politician that supports the NAACP LDF is acting in direct contravention of the interests of Asian families.
For Asian families, Stuyvesant represents the hope that America can be a race-neutral level playing field where success is earned with discipline, ambition, and self-improvement. The NAACP LDF lawsuit undermines that hope and threatens Asian students with a different kind of America.
A comment on the NAACP 'othering' Asians in the Stuyvesant extrance exam controversy;
Stuyvesant entrance exam is equal opportunity as an academic competition;
My comments at BigWOWO's post, Asians and Public Education, starting here.