New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has a plan to increase black and Hispanic enrollment at the city’s eight specialized, or elite, public schools. And a new report by the publicly-funded Independent Budget Office confirms what skeptics of the plan have known since de Blasio announced his scheme last summer: It baldly discriminates against Asian Americans.
De Blasio wants to do away with the admissions test that is the single determining factor in admitting students to these schools and instead force them to accept the top 7 percent of students from all the city’s middle schools. “Offers to the city’s black students would soar to 19 percent compared to the 4 percent who enrolled that year, the study found,” the New York Post reports. “Hispanic admission offers would also jump, from 6 to 27 percent.”
That sounds good, but here’s the problem: “Asians would get 31 percent of offers under the proposal—compared to the 61 percent who enrolled as freshmen for the 2017-2018 school year.” In other words, once the criterion for acceptance is no longer a single test that objectively measures ability, Asian-American admissions would drop by about half. And the half that wouldn’t get in would be replaced partly by kids who would have scored lower than them on the test.
Here’s the really nasty part. Admissions of white students to the elite schools would barely change, going from 24 to 20 percent. This means that only one racial group is paying the price for de Blasio’s “diversity” plan.
The proposed admissions changes are part of a larger trend of discriminating against Asian Americans in various schools and universities. I wrote at length about this in an article in COMMENTARY’s January issue. The two focal points of the phenomena are New York’s elite schools and Harvard University, and, in both cases, the issue has gone to court.
A federal judge in Boston is expected to rule by this summer on whether or not Harvard has been discriminating against Asian-Americans. And Asian-American parents and civil-rights organizations filed suit in Manhattan in December to get a preliminary injunction against part of de Blasio’s admissions overhaul that’s already slated to go into effect this spring. Specifically, that’s about the Department of Education’s plan to “expand” a program called Discovery, which offers elite placements to disadvantaged kids who just miss the test-score cutoff. As I explain in my article, the program tools aren’t being expanded so much as it’s being reallocated—from helping many disadvantaged Asian-American students to helping disadvantaged students of other minorities.
Lawyers for the mayor have filed papers in which they claim the Department of Education “did not act for the purpose of hindering any racial group.” That won’t be so easy to prove. In my article, I cite a good deal of data showing that these diversity schemes and other plans to engineer the ethnic make-up of classrooms have long been used explicitly to discriminate against unwanted minorities. Such plans were used foremost to reduce the number of Jewish students in the Ivy League in the 1920s and ’30s. Now, nearly a hundred years later, they’re targeting Asian Americans. Justice awaits.