2007-07-20 / Editorial/Opinion


Race Should Never Be A Consideration

Nikita Rau has become the cover girl for all that is wrong when race is considered in making a judgment on hiring, school placement, college entrance or anything else. You might remember that Rau, a sixth-grader of Indian subcontinent heritage was rejected from Mark Twain Intermediate School, a magnet school in Coney Island, because of a quota that labeled her a "minority" and then excluded her because the minority quota was already filled. In 1974, the federal court ruled that Mark Twain's population had to be set at 60 percent white and 40 percent "people of color." As the demographics of the Coney Island area shifted, however, the quotas often gave white applicants an unfair advantage. Representative Vito Fossilla has asked the seminal question: "What message are we sending our students when we tell them that they cannot attend the school of their choice because they are the wrong color or ethnicity?" The Department of Education says that there are only two race-sensitive programs in New York City such as the one at Twain, and they are working to change that. They are wrong, as usual, however. There are many programs where attendance is based on race. For example, the DOE provides a free course for students who want to attend the elite high schools such as Brooklyn Tech and Stuyvesant. The course teaches students how to take the test and provides practice in the specific test-taking skills necessary to get a high score on the high-stakes test. The course gives participants a leg up on acing the test. Asian and white students who want to take the free course, however, must come from homes where the family income is so low that students are eligible for free lunch. Black and Latino students face no such regulations. They can take the free course no matter how much their family earns. That is blatantly unfair. There should be no free courses that assist students in getting ahead where eligibility depends on ethnicity, nor should there be a system where the entrance criteria depend on race and ethnicity as a major factor.

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