In New York, Black and Latinx youth make up 70 percent of public school students, yet just 10 percent are admitted to the city’s eight specialized high schools, the New York Times reports. The shamefully low, and decreasing, number of students of color in these prestigious institutions has picked up criticism, including from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who called it an “injustice.”
Just 4 percent ― or 190 students ― of the 4,800 youth invited to attend New York’s eight specialized schools this year are Black. This number is down from 207 last year, following an annual trend of decline. In fact, at Stuyvesant High School, the city’s most selective school, the number of Black students offered admission has dropped for three consecutive years. In the fall, just seven of the 895 spots will go to a Black student, down from 10 last year and 13 the year before. According to the Times, Stuyvesant, which has four Nobel Prize laureates among its alumni, now has the lowest percentage of Black and Latinx students than any other New York school, though it must be noted that the school accepted 33 Latinx students this year, up from 27 in 2018.
“To only have 7 Black students accepted into Stuyvesant (a *public* high school) tells us that this is a system failure,” the congressional freshman, who represents parts of the Bronx and Queens, wrote in a tweet.
Eight of the elite specialized high schools use the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test as part of their admission process, a measure of success that has received increased disapproval. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has advocated for abolishing the test, which he has referred to as a “roadblock to justice.”
“Can anyone look the parent of a [Latinx] or black child in the eye and tell them their precious daughter or son has an equal chance to get into one of their city’s best high schools,” the Democratic mayor wrote in an op-ed for Chalkbeat in 2018. “You can’t write a single test that captures the full reality of a person.” However, the Times reported that any push to get rid of the test have stalled out.
For Ocasio-Cortez, the system has the potential of deepening inequality for years to come.
“Education inequity is a major factor in the racial wealth gap,” she said. “This is what injustice looks like.”
While the number of Black and Latinx students accepted in New York’s elite public schools dwindle — Latinx invitees dropped from 320 to 316 overall — among all eight schools, the acceptance rate for white students has increased.
According to the Pew Research Center, there are fewer and fewer Latino students are going to college. In fact, despite how rapidly the Latino community is growing in the U.S., a widening education gap lands us at half as likely to hold a college degree as non-Latino white adults according to The Education Trust.
New York City school districts have the largest Black and Latino enrollment rates in the country but offer the fewest programs for gifted and talented children.
Recent surveys show that 10 school districts with 88 percent to 96 percent black and Hispanic enrollment have either one or zero K-5 Gifted and Talented programs.
In a recent interview with Tai Abrams, a 2005 alumna of the Bronx HS of Science whose alumni list boasts eight Nobel and eight Pulitzer prize winners called the statistic “educational genocide.”
“It’s like killing off a group of people who are not getting the quality of education they deserve, and it’s a crime,” Abrams told the New York Post.
This is the kind of lack of educational nourishment that underlines the need for programs like affirmative actions.
People can whine and rant about it all they’d like but POC have a right to affirmative action. The latest arrest of Academy Award nominee Felicity Huffman and actress Lori Loughlin, best known for her role as Aunt Becky on “Full House” are proof of this fact.
In headline breaking news the two actresses were revealed to be part of a college cheating scam which gave their kids an unfair advantage that garnered them access to some of the country’s top universities, including Yale and Stanford. This is all despite the fact that the children of these two women, as well as those of over 30 other celebrities and CEOs, were already riding on an enormous wave of white privilege that gives so many white students a leg up in the college application process each year.
Never fear fellow Latinos and POC. While most of our parents might not currently be able to fork over a load of cash to pay and have someone else beef up our SAT exam scores, there are ways to beat the system. And that’s purely on smarts and know-how. Just how abuela would want you to do.
If you’ve already completed your college applications and you met all the deadlines, know that there are several things that you can do to improve your application post-submission. There are also cosas que puede hacer that are just for you because this is a time when you also need to practice some self-care and to remember that you are worthy.
1. Get back to taking care of yourself
Now that your applications are in and you’re not multi-tasking ad nauseam, you should take care of your mental health. Get back to sleeping seven to eight hours a night and cut back on junk food. Get back to making and eating actual meals when hungry rather than snacking on empty calories. Get back to your exercise routine, quit staying up too late, and research some mindful techniques to help you through the stressful waiting period.
2. Start researching scholarships
There are scholarships for everything and everyone. Scholarships for first-generation college students, Dreamers, musicians, people who wear glasses, and on, and on. This McDonald’s Scholarship is seeking to give money to Latino students. The due date is February 4! Looking for other kinds of scholarships? Check out this directory.
3. Double-check letters of recommendation
Most colleges are using online tools to collect your application and recommendation letters, and most colleges will not turn you away for a late letter. Go to all sites and confirm that all your letters of recommendation have been turned in. Contact any teachers who haven’t turn in letters by sending a cheerful e-mail letting them know that their letter is not showing in the portal, say something like, “Dear Ms. Lopez, I went to the UC Davis portal and did not see your letter of recommendation. Please let me know if there’s something else you need from me.”
4. Check your FAFSA
If you haven’t filled out the FASFA, you need to do it now. If you have filled it out be sure to make sure all information is filled out correctly to minimize annoying delays. You CAN fill out the FAFSA and provide tax information even if your parents are undocumented. Simply enter 000-00-0000 for their Social Security number. Do no enter their TIN or tax identification numbers that they use to file their taxes!
5. Do more research on each college you hope to attend
In order to make the best decision when you start getting those acceptances that we know you’ll get, you should start researching each college, and the program in the college you intend to major. You should also research student body demographics. It might be very difficult to go to a school that has very few Latinx students.
6. Research your intended major
It’s important to have some kind of idea how much you’ll be able to make with a four-year degree if you plan to go to graduate school, and how much that might cost, and weigh that information with how much money, if any, you’re willing to borrow.
7. Be realistic about what you can afford
Sure there’s financial aid and scholarships, but student aid doesn’t always cover all costs. Do you really want to go into debt? We now know that loan companies have been targeting people of color and veterans, hyping the promise of education and taking advantage of people who have very little money to spare.
8. Have a real discussion with your parents about how much they can pay
I had a student who got into more than one four-year colleges straight out of high school. She was all set to study medicine when her parents told her that they couldn’t afford the tuition. Before she applied and got in, they hadn’t quite understood how expensive college would be, even with the aid that she got. She was, needless to say, devastated and she didn’t quite know what to do.
9. If you’re concerned about funding, consider community college for the first two years.
That student that I was telling you about, well, she wound up staying with her parents and going to the local community college from which she’s about to graduate and transfer to a UC. As a result, she saved thousands and thousands of dollars doing her general education and preparing for her major at a two-year. While I’m on the subject of community college, you should know that students who go to community college have better persistent rates and get better grades than students who go straight to a four-year. Most California community colleges have Puente programs which provide extra support for Latinx students.
10. Don’t sabotage everything because you’re afraid
You’ve heard of those students who dropped out of high school during the last month or two of senior year or the student who didn’t turn in that last assignment and didn’t graduate? Human nature is a funny thing, and sometimes we’re afraid of success. Gente, we’re about to take over this place, echale ganas!
11. Spend some time reflecting on whether you’re sure you’re ready to leave home.
Many students drop out of school during the first year because they weren’t ready to leave home in the first place. It’s a lot to expect for every single young person in America to be ready to move to a new city and go to college on their own at just eighteen. As a nation, we need to get better at realizing that. Some students feel they have failed when this happened, but there are many different paths to getting an education. If you decide to stay home and attend a community college, remember that authors, Oscar Hijuelos, and Amy Tan went to community college, and so did musician Alice Bag, that one director of Star Wars, George Lucas, and Tom Hanks.
12. Keep in mind that you might not be ready today, but that you may well be in three months.
As you reflect on your readiness to move out of your house and into a dorm, remember that young people grow and change very fast. Maybe you feel mostly ready but your feeling reticent too. Keep in mind that feeling a bit afraid doesn’t mean you aren’t ready now, and how you feel today might change a lot in few months.
13. Try not to be mean to your parents
If you’re pretty sure that you’ll be going off to a four-year away from home, you’re at that age and maturity level where your parents are making you crazy. Being impatient with them or mean won’t make you feel better. Take it from me (mi híjo is on his way to college tambíen), your parents are probably profoundly sad that you’ll be leaving home. Spend some time trying to understand how they feel and compórtate bíen.
14. Start donating things you’ve outgrown
When you do move out of your parents house and into a dorm, you can’t take everything with you. Do your parents a favor and start getting rid of things piled up in your room and closet that you’ve outgrown or don’t need. Pass down things to your hermanx that they could use and donate the rest.
15. Help your hermanx be successful in school
Now that you have what it takes to be successful in school and apply for four-year colleges, help your sibs. Encourage them to stay focused, to manage their time wisely. Talk to them about the importance of learning and having a strong GPA. Give them study tips, tutor them in subjects they may need improvement.
16. Write thank you notes
Studies show that practicing gratitude is good for you. It’s also good for the teachers, mentors, family members, and friends who have helped you through the college application process. Take some time writing anyone who helped a genuine, heartfelt thank you note.
17. If you work, save money.
This one seems obvious, but it might be one of the hardest things to do, BUT if you’re not supporting yourself or anyone else like your parents probably are, you need to start saving money. Set aside a little money each month that you can take with you to college. You’ll need it! Here are some apps that could help you get started.
I’ve noticed that one skill that students struggle with in my college English classes is reading — reading material that is at a college level and so much of it. You will be assigned an astounding amount of reading in college. The best way to prepare for that is to keep reading — read anything and look up any words you don’t know that seem important to understanding. Looking up words will increase your vocabulary, and I’ve taught many students frustrated by their vocabulary.
19. Plan your summer
If you have to work all summer, you should plan your summer carefully. Be sure to plan a trip or two with friends, especially those who are also going off to college or those you won’t see when you’re away. Plan out time you’ll spend with your familia. You’ll feel better leaving for school, if you spent quality time with everyone before hand.
20. Try not to stress out
Stressing out won’t help you. Try not to check your e-mail for acceptance info too obsessively. Go on a walk in the fresh air, cuddle your favorite pet, tell your mamá, or favorite tía, what’s on your mind, and remember that getting accepted, or not, to the college of your choice does not determine your self-worth.
Those of you who have been following Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s career closely know that the “Green New Deal” has been a cornerstone of her platform since taking office in January. The “Green New Deal” is, according to the Sierra Club, a piece of legislation that aims to “mobilize vast public resources to help [the US] transition from an economy built on exploitation and fossil fuels to one driven by dignified work and clean energy.” On Tuesday, the Senate voted against passing the legislation by a margin of 0-57–an outcome that was largely expected.
What was unexpected, however, was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s reaction to a fellow House member who dismissed the trailblazing bill as one that would only benefit “rich liberals.”
“If you are a rich liberal from maybe New York or California [the Green New Deal] sounds great,” Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin (R) stated. “Because you can afford to retrofit your home or build a new home that has a zero emissions, that is energy efficient, affordable and safe.”
Needless to say, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez did not view the goal of reducing carbon emissions as a liberal fantasy in the same way Rep. Duffy did.
When it was her turn to speak at the committee hearing, Ocasio-Cortez didn’t mince words in her rebuttal.
“When we talk about the concern for the environment as an elitist concern, one year ago I was waitressing in a taco shop in downtown Manhattan,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “This is not an elitist issue. This is a quality of life issue. You want to tell people that their concern and their desire for clean air and clean water is elitist? Tell that to the kids in the South Bronx which are suffering from the highest rates of childhood asthma in the country. Tell that to the families in Flint…Call them elitist…People are dying!”
After the journalist and liberal media personality Brian Tyler Cohen Tweeted out the video to his 43,000 followers, the video quickly went viral–garnering more than 8 million views and 64,000 retweets in less than 24 hours.
Latinas, as usual, took to Twitter to support Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez…
The reaction on Twitter proves that combating climate change is not an issue that only effects elite liberals.
In fact, many Latinas view climate change as one of the most pressing issues in politics today.
@AOC Thank you for being a voice of reason. Your words come from the heart of many Americans who believe in helping our fellow man; who believe that clean water and air for ALL is top of the list of Congressional concerns. We MUST save the planet.— Janet (@SurruscoJanet) March 27, 2019
According to environmental scientists, the clock is ticking when it comes to both reducing and preventing humanity’s negative environmental impact.
Many Latinas experience first hand that negative consequences of the climate change crisis.
We, the people of communities like the Bronx where @AOC represents and the 7th where @AyannaPressley represents and the 5th Suffolk, where I represent are the original EJ warriors. We have been poisoned 4 generations w/ bad air, water & land. It’s not elitist, its righteous.— Rep. Liz Miranda (@lizforma) March 27, 2019
In fact, the affects of climate change disproportionately impact low-income Americans who are often displaced due to the destruction of unusual environmental occurrences.
Of course, there were those Latinas who were just ecstatic that they finally felt truly represented by a Representative.