If the administration is truly committed to admitting black and Latino students who deserve to be in specialized high schools, it must find the courage to disrupt the status quo and ask the harder questions. For example, why not ask how the schools could do a better job — not of expanding or improving the applicant pool, but of recognizing the talent we know exists among black and Latino students? What if the school district (still under significant mayoral control) and the State Legislature (which mandates a test-only policy for three of the schools) started from scratch to create an admissions process that rewards those who do well in middle school? What if school officials and the public actually believed there are many talented black and Latino students who can succeed in an elite setting? What if they were willing to create a process that recognized their merit?
These are the big questions. Asking these types of questions will help to shift the false, prevailing narrative that only a few black and Latino students are good enough for the city’s best high schools. It will help New Yorkers get to some real solutions and a fairer process — not only for those students, but for everyone.