Both The Bronx High School of Science and Stuyvesant High School are specialized Gold Medal New York City High Schools often ranked in the top 10 high schools in the Country. Bronx Science is world renowned for having 132 finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search, the largest number of any high school. Seven graduates have won Nobel Prizes — more than any other secondary education institution in the world, and six have won Pulitzer Prizes. Admission to each is by competitive examination only, of which Stuyvesant has the highest cutoff score at the current time.
According to the Department of Education, both Science and Stuyvesant accepts students solely based on their performance on the SHSAT, although community activist group ACORN has argued that the exam may be biased against African and Hispanic Americans. A number of students take preparatory courses offered by private companies such as Princeton Review and Kaplan, in order to perform better on the SHSAT, often leaving those unable to afford such classes—often ethnic minorities—at a disadvantage.
To bridge this gap and boost minority admissions, the Board of Education started the Math Science Institute in 1998, a free program to prepare students for the admissions test. Students attend preparatory classes through the program, now known as the Specialized High School Institute, at several schools around the city from the summer after 6th grade until the 8th grade exam. Yet with these free programs, the Black and Hispanic enrollment continues to decline.
Each year there are only about 700 applicants admitted to these schools out of approximately 26,000 students taking the entrance examination. At Bronx Science, the student body is diverse, comprising almost every ethnic group in New York City. In 2008, 59.92% of the school was of Asian descent.
When I applied, there was no such thing as Princeton Review and absolutely no advantages for disabled students. In other words, you better find a way to compete whether you are blind, deaf, have ADD, or came to this country late in life speaking a different language. Most importantly, when I went on my tour of the school, I was amazed at how many first generation asian students were admitted. They clearly did not receive the so-called advantages of the other students as they picked up the language late and managed to soar ahead despite their shortcomings and lack of free extra help. Those spots at Science and Stuyvesant High School should not be denied to students who earn the grade to attend regardless of their situation. It is unfair to hold overachievers back in order to give less deserving people an unearned advantage.