De Blasio Is Trying to Reduce the Number of Asians In Elite NYC Schools

Bill de Blasio
Bill de Blasio / Getty Images
May 29, 2019

A new report highlights New York City mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Bill de Blasio's effort to reduce the number of Asians in the city's top schools.

De Blasio and Democrats in the state legislature are waging a "progressive war" on the city's best schools, which are "now dominated by Asian-American students from largely poor and working-class immigrant backgrounds," according to City-Journal.

Democratic state legislators are working to get rid of the law mandating a competitive exam as the only criterion for admission to the schools, while de Blasio is expanding a remedial-admissions program for disadvantaged students which is the one alternative to the test requirement. De Blasio and his schools chancellor Richard Carranza are "manipulating the admissions criteria so that many poor Asian kids no longer qualify."

De Blasio wants to phase out the test requirement over three years and replace it with "guaranteed admission for students in the top 5 percent to 7 percent of their eighth-grade classes (provided they were also in the top quarter of eighth-grade students citywide)." This group of students would be determined by "multiple measures of student achievement," instead of grades, and the measures would be determined by the chancellor. The chancellor would also have the exclusive right to determine "the weight of each such measure."

NYC's Independent Budget Office found that de Blasio's plan would increase black and Hispanic enrollment from 10 percent to 46 percent, while cutting Asian enrollment from 61 percent to 31 percent. 10 percent of the students at these schools would not meet basic math proficiency standards.

The remedial-admissions program, implemented in a nearly 50-year old law, permitted the top schools to "maintain a discovery program" for "disadvantaged students" who "score[d] below the cut-off" on the entrance exam. De Blasio and Carranza will expand the population of students in the Discovery program who are attending the schools from 4 percent to 20 percent next year. This will have the effect of raising "the cut-off scores for regular admission—due to the smaller number of slots available—and lower[ing] the threshold for Discovery admission, due to the larger number of slots."

De Blasio's new rules redefine "disadvantaged" to exclude poor children attending schools in middle- or working-class neighborhoods. An Economic Needs Index will gauge eligibility by community, instead of family, poverty.

"A student living in a homeless shelter in a prosperous area would thus not count as disadvantaged for the purposes of the Discovery program. This new criterion will exclude students from 18 of 23 Asian-majority middle schools," the report notes.

Published under: Bill de Blasio , Education