Black and Latino students only had a 10.6% acceptance rate for the specialized high schools. The question is why so low? According to Susan Edelman's article, education experts cited three reasons.
- The reduction and elimination of gifted and talented programs in minority neighborhoods.
- The influx of East Asian immigrants who emphasized education.
- The introduction of test preparation courses.
In the eighties, student advocates pressured the Board of Education to eliminate academic tracking and the result was that potentially high achieving students in poor minority schools no longer were given advanced academic courses since schools needed to pass as many students as possible and dumbed down the curriculum in both elementary and middle schools to achieve that passing rate. This resulted in that poor, academically proficient Black and Latino students were at a disadvantage when it came to competing with manly middle class White and Asian schools.
Add to the disadvantage that poor Black and Latino students had due to the elimination of academic tracking, was the overall poor academic performance of their schools, when compared to the middle class Asian and White schools in the better neighborhood where more academic challenging coursework were offered. Then there was the test preparation courses that were offered and costs a thousand dollars or more that was not affordable to poor families.
While Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza want to integrate the specialized schools, using the Texas model. (top ten students of each middle school are automatically accepted), not all middle schools are the same. Adding more Black and Latino students will result in less Asian and White students who are academically superior to those accepted and that's not fair either.
My solution would be to bring back academic tracking by having all elementary and middle schools to have gifted and talented and special programs that have academically challenging coursework that will increase Black and Latino acceptance rates in the specialized schools.