Diversity, Education, Top Stories

Bill de Blasio’s Plan to Displace Asians In New York’s Top Schools

New York City has eight elite specialized public high schools, which admit students entirely on the basis of their scores on a standardized test called the Specialized High School Aptitude Test (SHSAT).  Only the top 5% of New York students qualify for admission to the specialized high schools, and admissions are very competitive, particularly for Stuyvesant High School, Brooklyn Technical High School, and Bronx High School for Science.

Brooklyn Technical High School

These schools have also become predominantly Asian over the course of the last several decades.  Today, Stuyvesant’s student body is 72 percent Asian, about 22 percent white, two percent Latino only about one percent black, even though black and Latino students together comprise about 70 percent of public school students in New York City.

In an editorial on the education news site Chalkbeat, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio blasted the racial composition of the specialized high schools as a “monumental injustice,” and proposed eliminating the SHSAT and replacing it with a plan he believes is more fair.

De Blasio’s plan to purge Asians

The mayor’s plan has two parts: First he will expand an affirmative action program, called the “Discovery” program, that lets low-income students with lower test scores into the specialized schools.  Just 4 percent of specialized high school students got in under this program in 2017, but de Blasio will expand this program to fill 20 percent of the seats.  The mayor can implement this on his own, and it is already happening.

The more ambitious part of the mayor’s plan, which requires approval from the state legislature,  involves eliminating the SHSAT and, instead, offering admission at specialized high schools to students based on their middle school class rank, contingent on them also scoring above the 75th percentile on state-mandated achievement tests.  An NYU Steinhardt study concluded that allocating seats in specialized high schools to each middle school is the only way to achieve black and Latino representation in proportions that resemble those of the overall school system.

As de Blasio points out, although there are more than six hundred middle schools in New York city, half of students admitted to specialized high schools come from just 21 middle schools.  A New York Post analysis found that those schools are either middle schools for gifted students, magnet programs with selective admissions or neighborhood schools in places like Fresh Meadows, Queens which is home to a large concentration of Korean immigrants, and Flushing, Queens, which is predominantly Chinese.

By dividing seats at the specialized high schools equally among middle schools, de Blasio’s plan uses the fact that the city’s top Asian students are concentrated in certain middle schools to effectively cap the number of seats they can earn.  This plan also punishes students who attend selective middle schools for gifted students by allocating those schools the same number of seats as schools where the overall student body is much less accomplished. By turning a citywide competition into 600 competitions, each localized within a single middle school, this plan protects students at low-performing schools from competition with higher-performing students in other parts of the city.

The mayor estimates this will increase black and Latino enrollment at the specialized schools to about 45%.  Although his editorial doesn’t mention Asians at all, his plan is designed to displace them.

Defending the mayor’s plan against protests from Asian parents, New York City’s Department of Education Chancellor Richard Carranza said: “I just don’t buy into the narrative that any one ethnic group owns admission to these schools.”

But Asians don’t claim to own the specialized schools by some ethnic birthright. They earn their spots in them, and these kids would be the most qualified students by any objective measure that anyone can imagine.  The mayor is trying to abolish competitive admissions in favor of race-based allocations, he is trying to exclude the best students by limiting the number of seats in the specialized high schools that the best middle schools can earn.

The test is a fair standard for admissions

Mayor de Blasio argues that a single test isn’t a good measure of student accomplishment, and he argues that black and Latino students are disadvantaged because of inequalities in availability of test prep.

Private testing companies sell SHSAT prep courses to New York students that cost more than $1000, and private tutors can charge more than $100 per hour.  Test detractors point to inequalities in access to these services to explain the racial disparities in specialized high school admissions. They argue that it is unfair that Asian American families are highly motivated to get their children into top schools, that the kids study very hard, and that the parents are willing to spend all they can afford on test prep.

However, socioeconomic factors cannot explain the demographics of NYC’s specialized schools. Asian Americans have the highest poverty rates of any racial group in New York, and 44 percent of students at the specialized high schools come from families poor enough to qualify for free or reduced school lunch.  Moreover, the city has spent millions of dollars to provide test prep to black and Latino students, so all talented students in the city should have access to prep materials.

And if getting into the specialized high schools was as simple as paying for expensive prep to get a top score, there would be a lot more affluent white kids at these schools.  The specialized schools are equivalent to or better than elite private schools, and even the most lavish test prep is far less expensive than four years of private school tuition in New York.  If it was possible to reliably purchase scores by spending on test prep, then rich families would be happy to spend whatever was necessary, because it would actually save them hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run.  

The SHSAT actually does not appear to be any more susceptible to prep than any other major standardized test, and other tests appear to corroborate SHSAT’s results.  Students who test into specialized high schools are often the same students who have previously tested into gifted and talented programs in elementary school, and students at the specialized high schools go on to perform extremely well on the SAT.  Stuy’s class of 2018 included 165 National Merit semifinalists, which requires earning a PSAT score in the top 1% of all students who take the test in the state of New York.  Stuyvesant has a 100% graduation rate, and the median Stuy graduate earns a 1460 composite SAT score.

The fact that the SHSAT reaches substantially the same results as both early-childhood gifted and talented assessments and college entrance exams suggests that some trait exists which all these tests are identifying in the same students.  Studies have shown that high test scores correlate strongly with career success across numerous fields, and the long lists of famous and successful Stuyvesant and Bronx Science alumni shows that the SHSAT has a record of identifying talent.   

This plan will destroy the specialized schools

Specialized high schools don’t have extraordinary facilities.  They don’t have more resources per student than other public schools.  They don’t have lower student-to-faculty ratios. New York’s specialized schools are elite because the students in them are elite.  Currently, in order to get into any of the specialized schools, students must score in the top 5% citywide, and it takes a score in about the top 2% to get into Stuyvesant.

As a result, Stuy is one of the most elite high schools in the United States.  And it’s a public school, free to attend for anyone who places into it. Comparable private schools, like The Dalton School and Packer Collegiate Institute cost nearly $50,000 in annual tuition.

The proposed changes will open these schools up to students scoring as low as the 75th percentile on a state achievement test. Unlike SHSAT, which only students hoping for seats in specialized high-schools take, all students sit for the state achievement test, including those in special education, de Blasio’s policy will admit students who fall much lower within a much larger and lower-achieving set of tested students.

While de Blasio believes his more racially inclusive standard is a better measure of merit than the SHSAT, taking a school that admits only students with elite test scores and opening it up to students with mediocre scores is the very definition of watering down admissions standards.

When these schools are opened to students who cannot earn “advanced” math scores on state achievement tests, specialized schools will have to expand lower level course offerings at the expense of the huge array of AP and college level classes they currently offer.  When students graduate from Stuyvesant and Bronx Science with median SATs below 1100, these schools will no longer be worth a long subway commute from Fresh Meadows or Flushing, they’ll no longer be feeders to the Ivies, and they’ll no longer be viewed by white parents as an alternative to elite private schools for high achieving students.  

So the top students will abandon these schools, and the jewels of the New York public school system — the schools with the highest test scores, the chess championships, and the internationally-ranked robotics clubs — will probably end up being the neighborhood schools in Flushing, Fresh Meadows and Chinatown.  The best schools are where the best students are, and that means Bill de Blasio can’t take Stuyvesant and Bronx Science away from these kids, because these kids are Stuyvesant and Bronx Science.

The disparities measured by SHSAT reflect real performance deficits

The disparities in test scores that de Blasio considers such an injustice are the result of decades of policy decisions by city officials that have failed to cultivate academic excellence in most of the city’s middle schools, and have failed to prepare black and Latino students to compete with whites and Asians for selective admissions to specialized high schools or to selective colleges.

Chalkbeat, the same outlet where de Blasio announced his proposal, published an essay in 2017 by a black student named Yacine Fall, who was then a senior at Beacon High School, a selective and predominantly white public school in Manhattan.  Beacon picks a class of 350 students out of more than 6000 eighth graders who list it among their top choices in the citywide high school selection process. It does not use the SHSAT, which is only for the eight specialized high schools, but, instead, it assesses students on the basis of their grades, state test scores, a portfolio of submitted work and an interview.  But, while Beacon is selective, the median SAT scores of its graduating seniors are a full standard deviation lower than those at Bronx Science or Stuyvesant.

Fall explained that she undertook the task of selecting a top high school out of the phone book-sized catalog and navigating the city’s complicated high-school matching system on her own, at age 13, because her parents were immigrants who did not understand New York’s education system.  If she had not participated in the high school application process, which many black students do not, she would have been zoned into a neighborhood school where only 7 percent of students graduated ready to do college work.  And even though she was apparently a top student at her middle school, there was nobody there to help make sure Fall got to go to a high school that would cultivate her talents.

But, despite being hardworking and highly motivated, Fall was shocked by the academic demands placed on her at Beacon.  “I didn’t realize that an A in Harlem was not the same as an A in a majority-white high school on the Upper West Side,” she wrote.  She said her “black and brown peers [at Beacon] struggled to stay afloat and were barely passing their classes.”

They were having such a hard time because policymakers like Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza and their predecessors failed.  In the 1980s and 1990s, black and Latino representation at the specialized schools was much higher.  But then, the city scaled back tracking in its schools, arguing that honors and college-prep classes were much whiter than the school system overall, and many minority students were segregated into the lower tracks.

Today, some tracking persists in the form of programs like the gifted and talented middle schools. Selective high schools like Beacon and the specialized schools themselves are advanced tracks, but only a small percentage of students are eligible to participate in these programs, and there are far fewer seats in gifted schools than there are students who qualify for them. Honors and college prep classes used to be available in most New York schools, and those programs have fallen out of favor.

Syed Ali and Margaret Chin point out in The Atlantic, however, that, while honors and college prep tracks were disproportionately white, they still included a lot of black and Latino students, and offered those students opportunities for success.  When those programs were abolished, whites fled the NYC public schools for suburban districts or private schools, and talented black and Latino kids from less affluent backgrounds were kicked into mixed-ability classrooms with much lower-performing students.

Tracking and ability grouping have documented negative impacts on weak students.  Placing a student in a remedial class becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, increasing the likelihood that his academic performance will fall further behind, and lowering the odds that he will complete high school. These students learn better in classrooms shared with higher-performing students.

However, those higher-performing students get nothing from being in classes with low performers, and get substantial benefits from being tracked into faster-moving classes with other top students.  These students languish in mixed-ability classrooms as teachers focus on the slower students, or they’re conscripted to help teach their classmates the skills they’ve already mastered.  And these students run in place while students in honors and gifted tracks press relentlessly forward.

In New York, one in five public school students in grades K-8 are “chronically absent,” which means they miss more than a month of school each year. Chronically absent students are disproportionately likely to be black or Latino, and unlikely to be Asian. In 148 New York elementary and middle schools, more than a third of students are chronically absent.  The implications of a large percentage of students missing a sixth of their instructional time are obvious: This slows class progress considerably, and these students drag everyone else’s performance down.  In schools with high percentages of chronically absent students, fewer than 20 percent of students earned passing scores on state assessments.

Schools should be doing all they can to help these students get the best outcomes possible, given their problems, but helping these students shouldn’t come at the expense of keeping top students from disadvantaged minority backgrounds on pace to compete with white and Asian students who attend schools that don’t have to deal with high levels of chronic absenteeism and other kinds of social dysfunction.

Bill de Blasio is right that kids who fall a few points shy of the cutoff on the SHSAT shouldn’t be consigned to low-achieving schools with classmates who barely even show up for school.  But the solution isn’t to open up the specialized schools to lower-scoring students. Policymakers are failing to prepare black and Latino children to compete for selective admissions, and then they are claiming that the idea of selective admissions is racist because they don’t like the outcomes of their own policies.

Instead of lowering the standards for specialized high schools, the city needs to institute more honors classes at predominantly black and Latino elementary and middle schools, so diligent hardworking students from underrepresented groups can keep pace with whites and Asians, and compete on an even playing field.


Daniel Friedman is the Edgar Award-nominated author of Don’t Ever Get OldDon’t Ever Look Back and Riot Most Uncouth. Follow him on Twitter@DanFriedman81 


  1. AC Harper says

    “The mayor is trying to abolish competitive admissions in favor of race-based allocations…” Race-based allocations are necessarily racist, whether they are well intended or not.

    • @ Andrew Scriveley

      Such as?

      Many socialists principles and ideas are applied throughout Western societies and they haven’t destroyed anything, but on the contrary.

    • Jj says

      Free public schools are socialist in nature.

  2. Tim says

    > Tracking and ability grouping have documented negative impacts on weak students. [….] However, those higher-performing students get nothing from being in classes with low performers, and get substantial benefits from being tracked into faster-moving classes with other top students.

    I know we’re pretty heavily individualist here and that’s mostly a good thing, but this helping top students by leaving lower students to basically fend for themselves sounds possibly harmful.

    Having more people who aren’t in a position to really contribute to society seems bad.

    • When I was in middle school, my school had three tracks for English. A standard track, an honors track, and then a gifted track.

      In gifted 7th grade English, we were reading Shakespeare in seventh grade. In standard seventh-grade English, there were students who were several years behind grade level and were still reading picture books.

      The kids who are capable of doing Shakespeare don’t belong in the picture-book class. I believe that unreservedly.

    • ga gamba says

      … but this helping top students by leaving lower students to basically fend for themselves sounds possibly harmful.

      Let’s not leave this thought unfinished. On the flip side, curriculum, instructional pace, and teachers’ attention given to the needs of the slow frustrates and demotivates the quick to learn. Sounds possibly harmful too, yeah?

      And “fend for themselves”? You mean there’s no teacher in the classroom attending to the mediocre and the dim? Or is it the bright and the conscientious get stuck taking care of their slower classmates by doing most of the work when group activities are assigned and bowing to growled demands of “lemme see your homework”?

      We have no qualms segregating students by athletic and artistic talent, so what’s the hang up when it’s done by intellectual/academic skills? Oh, I know why.

      • Redliana says

        Exactly! For some reason Americans want to lie about the distribution in cognitive capacity. Rather than admitting that everyone is different and that no amount of hard work will yield an IQ of 150 if you start at 100 we lie and pretend that there is no such thing as cognitive differences.

    • I dropped out of high school after three semesters because I was forced to stay in classes with students that were far below me. This was in a ghetto area in Southern CA, where identity politics had already taken hold in the 80’s, and it was anathema to move smart students up and away from their counterparts that were dead weights.

      My life was adversely affected by this insane social policy, and every other poor kid with promise will be kept down by policies such as what you’re advocating. It is not students responsibilities to teach and assist their poorer performing colleagues, but rather teachers and parents that should bear this burden.

      • sestamibi says

        If you’re reading Quillette, you must have made up the deficit later and then some. I admire your tenacity.

  3. dirk says

    Does somebody who takes away your garbage weekly or brings you your beer or dinner (or washes the dishes inside) contribute less to society than some egghead coding a computer program, or game? Or any other lawyer, engineer or smart boy ? Is intelligence a scarse good in society?I don’t think so, one in 100 as a smarty is more than enough, you need so many other ones to do the boring and regular and repetitive things. Look at Russia after the Sovjet period, all supersmart physicists and atom scientists all of a sudden without job, living a miserable and poor life somewhere.

      • Ha… have you paid a plumber recently… if you could find one? I grew up in a two-tiered system when at grade nine, based on academic track records, a battery of tests and endless interrogations from guidance counselors, the student either entered into a college-prep curriculum or was steered to a career in the ‘trades’. This made total sense and should still be the norm. No matter how much political lube you put on the square peg, it still will not fit into the round hole. The dearth of skilled tradesmen in the U.S. is quite telling and the apprentice has gone the way of the moustache cup.

      • It’s All Culture says

        Obviously you haven’t had to get any plumbing work done recently.

        Also: wtf does this have to do with anything?

        • My plumber who replaced the pipes in my brownstone charged $110 an hour. My argument has to do with replacing the most academically gifted with individuals best suited for other, oftimes more lucrative pursuits in life.

    • Brendan says

      But what will we do with all the dumb people when there are no more jobs for them?

      • dirk says

        Orwell and Harari have given an answer on that, Brendan: give them drugs as a passtime, like the Romans did with the proletes, but these only got bread and games. Are we progressing in ideology? I wonder whether high marks in school are of any advantage in a later job, even in science. Einstein, just to mention one, never had especially good marks in high school.

      • dirk says

        See the newest thread on Q. Brendan, – The War on Normal People- Uri Harris.

    • peonynam says

      Don’t worry about the top scientists from Soviet Russia, they’re living comfortable lives in countries that appreciate their talents, like China, EU, even US.

      I’m not American, but even I see that US has relied on migrants to fill its huge STEM vacancies for decades, while they keep destroying their own talent supply with “Affirmative actions”. You will probably think very differently when one day US crosses the watershed and all these migrant talents, who are highly mobile, go somewhere else and never turn back. Then you have just zillions of janitors and waiter/waitresses left.

      And as the first commentator said, A entry plan based on race, instead of academic merit, is racist by definition. Strange that a huge portion of Americans just can’t see it.

      • dirk says

        That’s not what I read about Russian top-scientists peonyam, but I must admit, it was not a sociological or statistical report. To take the step to emigrate is a large one, I would never do it, even if I would earn 10x as much there (as sometimes the case in Quwait) or have a 10x larger house with servants. But I remain curious about the fate of the majority of them.

  4. What is this fixation on skin color and facial features? How about having proportional racial representation in NBA?

    • LAW says

      How about having an NBA where there is a global free-throw shooting contest and the very best get a NBA contract, with everyone else shut out?

      Well, that would be an interesting league, and the people in it would likely be very good shooters. It would entirely weed out people who don’t practice at all, which would be a good thing. But it would absolutely not be a collection of the very best basketball players in the world, because FT% is only very loosely linked with overall performance.

  5. dirk says

    An A in Harlem is not an A in Upper West, no, of course not, do we already live in a universalist globe? Or in an identity based territory? What would an A be in Congo? Or in Sudan? I think, even the lessons, questions and exigencies of the schools there are totally different of ours.
    Is this lack of understanding maybe due to the UN Human Rights declaration? I wonder what MalcolmX would have said of all this!

  6. @Tim, the point being is that a top student might not be incentivized to use their full potential in that class. If they were placed with other top students they’d have more demanding courses and relatable competitive students to achieve greater with. It’s like the “big fish small pond” analogy

  7. This should be a lesson to all: leftists will eagerly sacrifice human excellence and the merit-based systems they require on the alter of their particular racist conception of social justice (which should in no way be confused with justice simply). If the mayor is successful in New York, these policies will spread like cancer through the entire country. Good luck!

  8. X. Citoyen says

    One of the amazing things about contemporary political discourse is how politicians and intellectuals repeat ideological tropes that even they don’t believe. Does anyone think, for example, that de Blasio actually believes that “a single test isn’t a good measure of student accomplishment, and…that black and Latino students are disadvantaged because of inequalities in availability of test prep”? Of course he doesn’t. No one believes this, and everyone knows that this mental ejaculate was invoked to give the appearance of a rationale behind re-colouring project.

    • I guess the deeper question is then what truly motivates and justifies the re-coloring project?

      • X. Citoyen says


        I think the goal is obvious—the great progressive dream of absolute parity—as is the imagined cause behind the present non-progressive state of affairs—racism. The model’s a poor fit in this case, however, because a test that disproportionately selects Asians can’t very well be called racist.

        So what’s a progressive to do to bring about parity? The honest course of action would be to admit that they’d prefer to sacrifice the excellence of the schools to their dream of parity, so they’re going to rejig the selection criteria to get something closer to the preferred racial mix. I wouldn’t agree with that either, but at least I’d admit they’re being honest about what they’re doing. But this isn’t honesty; it’s dissimulation, the kind of double-talk that corrupts clear thinking and public discourse.

        I say all this knowing that I’m attributing motives. Yet I can’t bring myself to allow that de Blasio or anyone else involved actually believes the tests are unfair.

        • But de Blaisio recommends a very special kind of parity, racial parity. I would argue that what truly motivates this is a very particular set of grievances against whites and Asians. This is not about parity, this is about revenge of those groups who don’t win out in a meritocratic system. As long as you fool yourself into thinking that all these progressive types want is ‘parity’ the more you miss the point. Do you really think that once Asians are reduced to ‘parity’ the war on human excellence and merit will end? Think about it.

      • Jericurl says

        DeBlasio is less of a leftist and more of a career opportunist. He just happens to be utilizing affirmative action populism but it is disturbing how many politicians can swindle the very people they claim to help while they gladly vote them back every election.

  9. Toni Pereira says

    I get the feeling that this place called New York is some kind of Tin-Pot country…

  10. Malcolm Gladwell discusses the harmful effect of putting students in an environment that is too challenging. I think it is in “Outliers”.

  11. The mainstream left has obviously decided that if their most favored minorities (MFM) don’t come out on top in a equal opportunity system, then it is the system itself that is to blame.

    If you think about it, the country has actually become more racist from a de jure perspective since its inception. Yes, the constitution was adopted on the basis of a 3/5 compromise, but you will notice that the founders were very careful to not include language that identified people explicitly by their race. Today, on the other hand, leftists love nothing more than to craft legislation that assigns benefits and blame on an explicitly racial basis. Go figure.

  12. dirk says

    Some 30 yrs ago, I read in Time the story about a white man soliciting for the local fire brigade, and being rejected for being white (there was a 10% non caucasian requirement, or something of the sort). He was the first white US citizen ever to sue the city for discrimination due to racism. I don’t remember what was the outcome. It looks like, that the issue is not yet resolved.

  13. voltaire1694 says

    Meritocracy is not only the best system, but also the only defensible one. If you want to dedicate additional resources to “help” underrepresented groups make it in to competitive schools, fine. But this penchant of the left to see racism in everything will either be their undoing — or ours. The world is not getting less competitive. Our best and brightest need to shine.

    • LAW says

      OK, but is a system that ignores grades and functions only on the basis of a single test a “meritocracy?”

      I used to teach SAT prep. Scoring high on the SAT is not difficult, and I was able to take kids who were moderately intelligent and help them get great scores. That’s what Asian parents do – they do what’s needed to ensure unremarkable kids score really well on tests. They game the system of this “meritocracy”, and if your parents can game the system it’s not really a meritocracy at all.

      • Ja says

        If your argument were valid the SAT and other tests would have no predictive value. The opposite is true.

        As for the test students take in NYC, the system is working just fine. Stuyvesant is one of the best high schools in the country precisely because the admissions criteria (the exam you don’t like) does a very good job of identifying the best students. Asian kids are not getting in because they are the only kids taking prep classes, they are getting in large numbers because they come from two parents households that place a very high value on academic achievement. No amount of social engineering is going to change the fact that these kids work harder and study more than their peers.

        Did you even read the article?

      • Jay Salhi says

        The success of Stuyvesant refutes your argument. It is one of the best high schools in the country precisely because the entrance exam identifies the best students. Did you even read the article?

        As for grades, these are subjective. An “A” at Chico State is not the equivalent of an “A” at Cal Tech. Giving all students the same test is the only objective and fair way of determining admissions, especially with schools that have a STEM focus. Asian kids do not do better because of prep tests (the article explains this), they succeed because they come from two parent households that place a high value on academic success. Discriminating against them because they study more than their peers is both unjust and racist.

  14. dirk says

    Racism and sexism (and speciesism) an sich are never rebuked in the media and journals. The direction (in favour, or at the detriment of victims) determines whether. The egalitarian dream or ideal is always stronger, it’s just a political choice of the majority, where do we want to arrive at, and at what costs.

  15. LAW says

    I completely disagree with this assessment. Unless you believe Asians are racially and/or culturally superior in some way, their dominance at magnet schools must be due to some flaw in the admission process.

    Namely, basing the entire arc of someone’s life on a single test result is absurd, and a terrible way to do admissions. It rewards gaming test results at the expense of every other life skill, and for reasons outside the scope of this article Asian culture is fantastic at producing top test takers.

    Nobody is saying let in stupid kids, but if you finish #1 in your school you should have the ability to go to a magnet school. You may not have the same test taking skills due to a different upbringing, but test taking is not the end goal of education.

    And yes, the median SAT score will go down a bit, because you are no longer accepting only people whose parents excel at drilling them at taking tests. And that’s a good thing – tests are just a small component of college admissions anyway.

    • Not racially superior, but certainly culturally superior in this respect. Some cultures do better in some areas than others. That’s always been the case. Thomas Sowell has based an entire career on point out that obvious fact to fanatical disbelievers who see any nationality, racial or gender difference as evidence of systemic prejudice.

      That’s why there are many Jewish Nobel prize winners, despite Jews being a tiny proportion of the world’s population and why there are almost no Muslim ones despite there being nearly 2 billion Muslims in the world today. Unless you think it’s all a Jewish conspiracy.

      Asian children do better because they work harder and longer than most others. Why they do will be down to their culture.

      • dirk says

        @ Wicked & Law: there is a book on the issue, by Chinese tigermother Amy Chua. It caused an outcry of western mums and dads who saw their sacred Spock education program, based on permissiveness,completely ruined. It has much to do with this thread on Blasio and removal of Asians in top schools, of course

        • LAW says

          I know the book. It caused anger because it’s wrong, not because it “ruined” western education.

          It would be like a book insisting you beat your children, and holding up the results as wonderful because it produces such disciplined, well-behaved kids. Well, yes, but to get there you have to *beat* them, and emotionally damage them and destroy a huge chunk of what makes them kids.

          Same idea here with the tiger mom concept, to a slightly lesser extent. And creating a school system that has parents drilling 13 year olds and pushing them into test prep is rewarding some parenting styles that many find quite damaging. Even more importantly, it produces children that aren’t well-rounded and able to produce results later in life. Nobody cares what your test scores were once you’ve gotten into college. They barely even care about your grades. What they care about is your ability to solve open-ended problems and work with people. And those things have little to do with ability to score on a standardized test.

          • dirk says

            Aha Law, but now you are talking about succes in life and career, and not on test results, and that’s what often matters in schools, plain drilling, like in a circus. Lamentably, that’s often the core and content in schooling (how many A’s), at least, uptil a certain age. I agree, ruining (for life) is not the proper word.

          • Jay Salhi says

            “Even more importantly, it produces children that aren’t well-rounded and able to produce results later in life.”

            You are using the same racist, anti-Asian stereotypes that have landed Harvard in court. The Asian kids are not less rounded (their parents also teach them to appreciate musics and the Arts) and they outperform everyone else throughout their lives.

          • LAW says

            @Jay Salhi

            I don’t understand how it’s racist to say “Asians as a group are great at tests and academics in general, but lack in social skills / leadership / creativity”. There are good things that come from a culture of rigorous studying and “dragon” parenting, but there are bad things as well.

            I have gone to school and worked with plenty of Asian people, and on average they are simply less socially well-adjusted than others. There are plenty of exceptions, but “nerdy Asian kid who gets straight A’s, doesn’t talk much, and plays in the band” is a stereotype for good reason. And Harvard simply doesn’t want a school full of that person, which is totally reasonable.

        • dirk says

          -Challenging- would have been a better word than -Ruining-, thanks Law. I understand (but did not read) that Pamela Druckerman has taken up this challenge, she arrives somewhere in between Chua and Spock. Nice middelground!

    • asdf says

      Asians are genetically superior. Read the Bell Curve.

      I went to a magnet school that was the mirror image of Stuyvesant. It was also largely Asian/Jewish with few blacks/hispanics. These schools exist to give appropriate educations to the very high IQ that don’t have the money for private school, which tends to be Asian immigrants who have an IQ/Wealth gap due to their just arriving in America and not having yet had time to turn their IQ into wealth within a single generation.

      Most rich parents (who are white/Jewish since they have been here long enough to get rich) in NYC and other expensive places can send their kids to private school. Their kids are usually as high IQ as they are, but sometimes there is some reversion to the mean. The whole point of being a parent is to be able to give you kid a special unfair advantage if they revert to the mean. That’s called working hard to make a better life for your kids.

      The best way to give your kid that advantage is if they can go to private schools while you use brown minorities to ruin the schools of any potential rivals that might outshine your revert to the mean kid. Smart Asian immigrants are a threat, so you’ve got to take away the institutions that could make that threat more real.

  16. RDL says

    There is something very ‘off’ about de Blasio. He goes off on these bizarre tangents that I can’t figure out.

  17. John Yoo says

    I am an asian.. let me just lay out to you other minorities. We are superior to you. we have better genes.. better parents.. better culture and we work hard.

    We don’t live off of welfare and blame ‘whitey’ for all our problems and do drugs all the time and commit crimes and be violent and blame the ‘society’ on that.

    Asians are going to fight hard to avoid our merit to be trashed by the losers of society. We need to fight back against affirmative action!!

    • dirk says

      Good to hear so from you Yoo, you can know it from within, because are an Asian yourself. Now , it’s waiting for the responses of the Afro americans, Arabs and Indiginous to admit that their genes, culture and, yes, also their parents of course, are inferior. For us Whiteys an honourful second position remains, the middle group, the averages. The hierarchy settled, for once and for all.

  18. Cognitive King says

    Different ethnic groups have genetic and cultural material geared towards different tasks. Which is why just as a Wang, Woo, Kim, Kumar, Sharma are rarely found in the NBA/NFL, if at all, the ethnic groups the mayor of NY wishes to please for votes, on average, fall behind on cognitive pursuits such as clearing a difficult test for highly gifted programs.

    No amount of test prep or throwing of tax dollars will change this difference. The gap may close by a bit, but it will inevitably remain. The only way this difference will go away over a very long time is for the government to criminalize endogamy within ethnic groups, i.e., to regulate diffusion of cognitive genes. The way things are going, perhaps someday that too may happen.

  19. The way the American obsessions with race is leaching into so many public discourses is just tedious. We are not naturally “racist”, we are naturally groupish as ethnicity is how we scaled up beyond hunting bands. This groupishness can latch onto almost anything — nation, race, religion, ideology, partisanship — but we have not interacted across continental populations anywhere systematic enough for anywhere long enough to racism specifically to be part of our inherent cognitive architecture.

  20. sestamibi says

    I actually went to Bronx Science in the mid-60s and can tell you that the same controversy was raging even back then: just substitute “Jewish” for “Asian”. There were even “save our school” student rallies back then, and the resistance to changing the system was so strong that the state legislature passed something called the Hecht-Calandra Act which precluded the specialized high schools from using anything other than competitive exams for admission criteria. I hope deBlasio’s efforts to eviscerate the schools will fail, but in a much more radical NYC I am not hopeful. A bill to repeal the Hecht-Calandra Act was voted out by the Assembly Education Committee, but Speaker Carl Heastie (a good Bronxite himself) said he would not bring it up for a vote, and so it died when the legislative session ended last week. One can only hope the GOP can retain control of the state senate this fall so that the schools will get a two-year reprieve.

    One important observation I would make is that the competition for places in these schools has become so intense because the alternatives really suck. Back when I went there were coaching classes for the test too, but very few enrolled in them. I didn’t think it was necessary, and neither did my parents (who didn’t have the cash to shell out for them anyway). I felt that if I got in, great. If not, the local alternatives (Clinton, Taft, Roosevelt, Columbus, Evander) were quite acceptable, and in fact among my age cohort have produced some pretty heavyweight alumni–including two of my former bosses, of whom I can say without any reservation that they were a hell of a lot smarter than me!

  21. J. Quinton says

    As a black kid who wen to Bronx Science, I think de Blasio’s heart is in the right place, but the methodology is all wrong.

    I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t gone to elementary school on the upper west side, I would not have gotten into a competitive middle school, and thus would not have had the educational background to get into Science. I grew up in east Harlem in the 80s, so not much can be said about the school districts there. However, I lucked out and was able to transfer to a better school district in the upper west side.

    Targeting the admissions process for the elite schools will not improve the education prospects of the kids there. It will just water down the academic level of the students who attend and those schools will no longer be elite. Indeed, I would not have felt any pride in getting into Science if de Blasio’s policies were in effect when it came time to apply and test for high schools.

    If there really are systemic problems that prevent the desired racial makeup of NYC’s specialized schools, then intervention should start a lot earlier than middle school. But I get the feeling that the end goal here is to eliminate specialized high schools in NYC altogether.

  22. Nils anders says

    I believe the author is correct in saying this will destroy these schools. I went to the top public school for 7th and 8th grade in a major east coast city in the late 1980’s. The school had been “integrated.” This was before the city had many asians so it was mostly split between white Jews and blacks. (I am neither Jewish nor black.) The principal and many of the administrators were black. The school was an absolute zoo, with a majority of the black kids wildly out of control and/or completely unable to keep up academically. I left the public school system after two years. I didn’t keep up with many people although many of the Jewish kids appear to have done well. Unfortunately, many of the black kids did not turn out so well.

    I personally believe many lower income students would benefit from a very strict, structured educational program. A precedent is the parochial catholic school system. Prior to the school discussed above, I attended such a school. While it may not have prepared kids for the upper reaches of academic achievement, it was very successful in turning students of probably low to modest intellectual ability into productive members of society. Most interesting to me is that this happened across the various races, including black and Hispanic students.

  23. James says

    I was confused about the part where the mayor, an elected official, had control over a school district. Doesn’t seem like the best of ideas. Seems like policy would change every time a new Mayor gets elected.

  24. SKim says


    Just because you tutored test prep, doesn’t mean you know anything about Asian parents.

    Just because you have met socially awkward Asians, doesn’t mean that Asian have bad personalities.

    And for all the imperfections of the current Test, what do you say about this:

    2017 8th Grade Citywide Math Common Core Proficiency Exams, 4/4 Scorers
    Asian 53%
    Black 6%
    Hispanic 17%
    White 24%

    2016 SHSAT accepted into SHS
    Asian 54%
    Black 6%
    Hispanic 6%
    White 27%
    Other 8%

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