The obsession with engineering diversity in education in this country will weaken whatever standards still remain. The best example is the controversy over who is admitted to New York City’s eight elite high schools (“New York’s Best Schools Need to Do Better,” The New York Times, Mar. 31).
A state law, the Hecht-Calandra Act, requires that New York City’s three largest schools use a single exam, the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test, to determine who is admitted. But because 51.1 percent of offers went to Asian students and 28.5 percent went to white students, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza want to eliminate the test and instead grant admission to the top 7 percent of students at each middle school.
De Blasio and Carranza maintain that the test is unfair. But it has worked for Asian students from impoverished families. Why can’t it also work for black and Hispanic students? Critics of the test say that these students need greater test preparation. But the city has already spent $6 million this year doing precisely that. What more can it do?
Admitting students of any race who lack the wherewithal to handle rigorous work will only set them up for failure. When they find they are over their head, they will drop out. Elite high schools were never intended to be for all students. Those who can’t pass the test would be far better served at other high schools. There’s no shame in that.
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