I was so wrong.
The year that I graduated was the high water mark for Black and Latino student enrollment at Stuyvesant. Since then it's been a downward spiral.
In a March 2012 Huffington Post Blog Stuyvesant alumni Richard Buery writes:
Stuyvesant is one of New York City's prestigious specialized high schools; admission to the school of 3,295 students is based entirely on a standardized test. Those 40 black students (1.2 percent of the student body, compared to 32 percent of students system wide) represent a significant decline: according to the article, Stuyvesant was 12 percent black (303 of the school's 2,536 students) in 1975. By 1980, there were 212 black students; in 1990, 147; in 2000, 109; and in 2005, 66. Latino students make up 2.4 percent of the student body, and 40.3 of the school system.
Something has to be fundamentally wrong for this level of decline to occur. This is a systemic problem that has not been addressed. To be blunt about it this is not a problem, it's a crisis.
When I was in junior high school New York City had three specialized high schools. There are now eight whose admission is based entirely on the results of an entrance exam that does not consider race or ethnicity. The top score on the exam is 800. In recent years, the cutoff for Stuyvesant has been around 560.
There was an article written for the New York Times in February 2012 where the writer states:
The school’s parent coordinator, Harvey Blumm, said that when he visited middle schools whose enrollments were overwhelmingly black and Latino, it was not uncommon to find students who had never heard about the specialized high school exam; or to meet students who had signed up for the exam, but had never thought of taking a practice test or prep course — something common among white and Asian students; or to have guidance counselors tell him that Stuyvesant “isn’t for our kids.”
For the record I'm not opposed to standardized testing but when something isn't working common sense compels us to take a fresh look. There is more to this issue than the ability to pass an exam.
The upcoming school year does not look any more promising. Gotham Schools reports:
The sharpest declines came at the city’s most selective schools. Out of 963 students accepted to ultra-elite Stuyvesant High School, just nine are black and 24 are Hispanic. Last year, the school accepted 51 black and Hispanic students. At Brooklyn Technical High School, the largest of the specialized schools, the number of black and Hispanic students accepted fell by 22 percent.
We cannot rely on anyone to get this done, it's up to us.