They're public schools, but not everyone can get in.
Increasingly, fewer and fewer African-American and Hispanic students are being admitted to New York City's best public schools.
Only 4 percent of students accepted to the city's seven specialized high schools were African American and only 6 percent were Hispanic. 35 percent of accepted students identified as Asian and 30 percent were white.
At the Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Technical High School and Stuyvesant High School, often touted as the best of the public schools, the percentage of African-American and Hispanic students attending has been declining since the mid-1990s.
From City Room:
Admission to the specialized schools is based on a single test, the Specialized High School Admissions Test, administered to eighth graders in the fall. Advocates for increased diversity at the schools have argued that other factors, like portfolios of student work, interviews or geographic distribution across the city's districts, should factor into admissions.
At Stuyvesant, the most selective of the specialized schools, only 12 African-American students were admitted to the freshman class of 2011. That's actually an increase from last year, when just 7 African-American students attended. Both numbers represent roughly 1 percent of the student body.
In an effort to address the decreasing numbers of minority admissions, the city has sponsored test preparation programs in low-income areas and increased outreach efforts in poor neighborhoods. But the city has rebuffed calls to change the admissions process, arguing that the test is fair.
Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld, a public schools spokesman, acknowledged that outreach and test prep were not sufficient to reverse the downward trend. The percentage of black and Hispanic students who took the test has risen since 2009. This time around, about 45 percent of the students who took the test were African-American or Hispanic.
"We have worked to improve outreach to communities and schools where participation has historically been low, including hosting parent workshops about the specialized high school admissions process," Zarin-Rosenfeld said. "But outreach alone is not the answer -- we also must ensure students taking the exam are receiving a high-quality education in elementary and middle school, so more of them can access our specialized high schools."
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