Elite Public High Schools in New York City Drawing Few Minorities

Black and Hispanic student enrollment remains low despite increased outreach and admissions test preparation.


The New York City Department of Education must be doing some introspection after a recent analysis by the New York Times highlighted the racial imbalance that persists at the city's elite public high schools. According to the newspaper, black and Hispanic students remain underrepresented at the city's best high schools, including Stuyvesant High School and the Bronx High School of Science, two schools that U.S. News recognized as gold medal schools last year. (U.S. News will publish new high school rankings in December.)

The lack of racial diversity continues to be a problem for these schools, despite their efforts in recent years to increase the enrollment of underrepresented minority students. New York City public schools serve 1.1 million students; about 40 percent are Hispanic, 32 percent are black, 14 percent are Asian, and 14 percent are white. Yet, the Times reports, Asian students make up more than two thirds of Stuyvesant High School's 3,247 student body, up from 48 percent in 1999. At the Bronx High School of Science, there are 2,809 students, but only 4 percent or 114 are black.

It is not clear what more education officials plan to do to address the enrollment disparities. In recent years, they have tried to do more outreach and expanded a program that helps students prepare for the test that determines admission to the top high schools. While students who attend the test-prep program are more likely to pass the test, the participation and performance of black and Hispanic students remain low.

"I'm not ever happy when I see a low percentage of those students participating in schools that are high rigor," the city's deputy mayor told the Times. "It's important for the halls of Stuyvesant, the halls of the Bronx High School of Science, to be reflective of the city itself."

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