The SHSAT also faces a legal challenge. The NAACP, the country’s biggest civil-rights legal defence fund, joined others in 2012 to file a suit demanding changes in admissions procedures. New York City’s public schools, the suit claims, are among the most racially segregated in the country.
Do they have a case? Asians make up more than 70% of pupils at Stuyvesant; blacks and Hispanics combined make up 3%, and falling. White pupils took 80% of places in 1970; now it is less than 25%.
But Asian-Americans are also a minority, says Tina Jiang, Harvey’s 16-year-old sister, who already goes to Stuyvesant. And many are also poor. Almost half of Stuyvesant’s pupils qualify for free lunches. The difference, according to Clara Hemphill, who runs a service that reviews public schools, is the “culture of test prep” among Asians: “Even families of modest means will put their kids through that.”