Richard Buery on The Huffington Post: The Case of the Disappearing Black and Latino Student

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Race and the Achievement Gap at Smith College and Stuyvesant High School

"The American dream demands that where a child ends up in life should not be determined by where he started. Race, class and zip code should not determine destiny. "

Over the past several days, I have spent too much time on Facebook and Twitter discussing two widely posted articles. In the first, a blog entry titled "Alum Tells Smith College to Quit Admitting Poors," Jezebel posted a letter from Anne Spurzem '84, president of the Smith College Westchester alumni club, bemoaning the current makeup of Smith's campus. Her letter complains:

"The people who are attending Smith these days are A) lesbians or B) international students who get financial aid or C) low-income women of color who are the first generation in their family to go to college and will go to any school that gives them enough money..."

And concludes:

"I can tell you that the days of white, wealthy, upper-class students from prep schools in cashmere coats and pearls who marry Amherst men are over. This is unfortunate because it is this demographic that puts their name on buildings, donates great art and subsidizes scholarships."


Then, Fernanda Santos published a compelling story in the New York Times describing the travails of Rudi-Ann Miller, one of 40 black students at my alma matter, Stuyvesant High School. 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. A follow up article by Ms. Santos shows a small overall uptick in black and Latino admissions at the eight NYC high schools that use the test for admissions, but the overall trend remains disturbing.

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