Misinformation about New York schools spreads in Chinese on WeChat

Mia Shuang Li:

Across the US and even in mainland China, a news story is arresting the attention of a global Chinese-speaking readership: The New York City standardized high school entrance exam. It’s a wonky topic that improbably inflames Chinese American parents as well as Chinese ones reading from their living rooms in Beijing and Shanghai, because of the proliferation of misleading coverage on WeChat, the dominant Chinese-language messaging app, on which misinformation runs rampant.

As the number of black and Hispanic students in New York City’s eight specialized high schools drops to an all time low, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s effort to diversify the student body by overhauling the admissions process has sparked intense debate. Of particular concern is de Blasio’s proposed elimination of the standardized test announced in June, the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT), that serves as the schools’ only entrance exam. The plan, intended to increase ethnic diversity in high schools, faces strong opposition, especially from the Asian American community, who make up about 60 percent of the student bodies in these schools.