WASHINGTON (CIRCA) — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., publicly admonished New York City's prestigious Stuyvesant High School on Tuesday for only accepting seven black students to its upcoming freshman class of 895 students.
The controversy surrounds the recent publication of admissions numbers to New York City's specialist schools, widely considered the best in the city's public school system. Ocasio-Cortez, who represents portions of New York's Bronx and Queens boroughs, criticized Stuyvesant High School's low admission of black students in a tweet.
"68 percent of all NYC public students are Black or Latino," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. "To only have 7 Black students accepted into Stuyvesant (a *public* high school) tells us that this is a system failure. Education inequity is a major factor in the racial wealth gap. This is what injustice looks like."
Stuyvesant has the highest cut off score of all the specialist schools. Its admission of seven black students is the second-lowest of the city's eight institutions. Staten Island Technical High School admitted only one black student for the upcoming class.
The eight schools, spread throughout the city, are often viewed as a pathway for low-income students to gain entrance to elite colleges and move on to prosperous careers. To gain admission, students are required to sit for an entrance exam that tests their math and English skills. Some students prepare for the exam years in advance, according to The New York Times.
68% of all NYC public school students are Black or Latino.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 19, 2019
To only have 7 Black students accepted into Stuyvesant (a *public* high school) tells us that this is a system failure.
Education inequity is a major factor in the racial wealth gap. This is what injustice looks like. https://t.co/89NKvXk4vg
Admission rates to the schools have been a point of contention in New York for years. Asian students tend to make up the largest segment of admissions each year, according to New York City Department of Education data, while Hispanic and black student segments tend to be significantly lower.
"These numbers are even more proof that dramatic reform is necessary to open the doors of opportunity at specialized schools," New York City Major Bill DeBlasio told the The New York Times.
DeBlasio has suggested replacing the entrance exam with a system that takes the highest-performing students from each of the city's middle schools, though that proposal is reportedly dead. Critics say it would disproportionately impact Asian students, if implemented.
"A desegregation plan can only be effective if the problem is viewed as a whole, and one that is not formulated to the total exclusion of Asian-Americans," New York state Senator John Liu told the Times.
Other initiatives at diversification, such as the expansion of free test preparation for minority students and offering the entrance test during the school day, have failed to make a major impact on the admissions numbers.
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