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Diversity and Divisiveness

June 11, 2018

Add to the rancor, confusion and misunderstanding about increasing the number of underrepresented blacks and Hispanics in the city’s elite high schools, the remark of schools chancellor Richard A. Carranza: “I just don’t buy into the narrative that any one ethnic group owns admissions to these schools.”

Click here to read what the police brass say about NYPD ConfidentialHe’s, of course, referring to Asian-New Yorkers, who comprise an estimated 62 per cent of those elite students, who are but 16 per cent of the public school population.

Like every immigrant group in this country — and especially non-white immigrant groups — Asian-Americans are high on the spectrum of having undergone suffering and discrimination, beginning with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 that barred the immigration of Chinese laborers, the country’s first law barring a specific nationality or ethnic group from entering the good old USA.

Chinese laborers worked the longest hours and lowest-paying jobs on the Union Pacific Railway and in the copper mines of Montana. Anti-miscegenation laws prohibited Chinese men from marrying white women. Sound familiar? Perhaps Carranza never heard the phrase the “Yellow Peril,” a term as odious as “nigger” or “spic” is considered today.

And, no, Asian-Americans don’t “own” admissions to the city’s elite high schools, Carranza’s borderline-racist remark notwithstanding. That the mayor has remained all but silent in the face of his comment recalls the three-decade old Korean boycott when David Dinkins, the city’s first black mayor, disregarded a court order, which allowed a black boycott against a Korean grocer for an unsubstantiated claim of discrimination to continue for eight months.

Click here to read the New York Times profile of Leonard LevittThis is not to say that a single test is the best or the only way to determine admission to the city’s elite high schools. But it may be the fairest in our burg, where every politician and city official will use his or her connections to get his kid into one of those schools. You want to go that route, make the process for each accepted student who didn’t pass the test totally transparent.

Moreover, there are plenty of ways to increase black and Hispanic enrollment without anyone’s owning anything. For starters, why not mandate that all middle school valedictorians and/or salutatorians be granted admission to the elite high schools? These are obviously bright and motivated students, who within the first few months will make up whatever academic “deficiencies” they may have in not passing the test.

Click here to read the Washington Post article on NYPD ConfidentialLet’s also acknowledge that using criteria other than a test for admissions to elite institutions is often a subtle way to discriminate. To cite one example, in “Greater Gotham,” his magisterial history of the city, the historian Mike Wallace describes how Columbia’s University’s President Nicholas Murray Butler offered in 1914 that “admissions requirements be expanded beyond exam results by adding interviews.” His reason: too many Jews.

Meanwhile, our so-called progressive mayor might remember that he is mayor of all New Yorkers.

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