An Endangered Species? The NYC Dept. of Education’s SHSAT: Perspectives from the Asian American Community

On Sunday, March 30, at the Flushing Library, members of the Asian American and Specialized High Schools community, including education activists, SHS alum, parents, and students, met to address the NAACP complaint leveled against the single test criteria for admission to the NYC high-performing Specialized High Schools, backed by AALDEF (Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund).

With the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test as the only criteria for admission, the racial composition of the SHS consists of a high percentage of Asian Americans (72% at Stuyvesant) disproportionately low number of Latino and especially African American students (less than 1% black students at Stuyvesant), a major issue of concern in NYC. Panelists and community members shared opinions, arguments for and against opening the criteria for admission, and personal experiences as parents and students in the testing system. 

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Panelists included: Roksana Mun (Youth Organizer, DRUM), Mitch Wu (Program Manager, Coalition for Asian American Children & Families), Larry Cary (President, Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation*), Stanley Ng (BTHS Alumnus & Lower Manhattan Representative for Citywide Council on High School), Catherine Zhou (Stuyvesant Alum & Education Activist), Michael F. Han (SHS Parent), Kathy Wang (SHS Student), Shikha Rawat (SHS Student & Youth Leader from DRUM). The moderator was Nelson Ma, lifelong New Yorker, AABANY member and Education Law Specialist. 

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Roksana Mun (left) and Mitch Wu (center left) represented views that support opening the criteria for admission to include top students and across different New York neighborhoods. They also discussed issues of standing in solidarity with other communities of color, Asian American issues of identity and the “model minority” myth, and the problematic nature of many expensive test prep academies, which many working class and immigrant families will work long hours at hard jobs to pay for. Larry Cary (center right) and Stanley Ng (right) represented views that support the SHSAT as the most non-political and least easily biased admission for acceptance and offered alternative explanations for the discrepancy. Larry Cary and Stanley Ng contextualized the larger disparities within the New York City public school system and presented case studies of schools that opened admission criteria and yet still failed to promote diversity.

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Above: Catherine Zhou shares concerns about recent cheating scandals and the test culture created out of the high-pressure single test system.

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Above: Stanley Ng presents information about the neighborhoods feeding into the Specialized High Schools. He pointed out that the willingness of Asian American students to travel a long commute for their education, as well as a lack of seats for public high schools in Queens if similar numbers of Asian American Queens residents do not feed into the SHS system.

We can all agree that every NYC student deserves the best education possible. A special thank you goes out to Chris Kwok, Labor and Employment Law Committee Co-Chair, and Nelson Mar for organizing and moderating an event revolving around an important issue that affects the Asian American community!

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Co-sponsored by the Coalition for Asian American Children & Families (CACF) and the Asian American Bar Association (AABANY)

*Appearing in his personal capacity, and not representing the views of the Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation

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After a full day of CLE sessions and other programs, attendees at the NAPABA Northeast Regional/AABANY Fall Conference enjoyed a cocktail reception, sponsored by Day Pitney. Attendees from AABANY and the northeast affiliates, including from Canada, met, mingled, connected and re-connected over drinks and hors d’oeuvres. 

At the reception, the AABANY Law Review, which was launched at the 2011 Fall Conference, presented its first Scholarly Paper Prize to Greg Robinson (Professor of History at l’Université du Québec à Montréal)  for his article, In Defense of Birthright Citizenship: The JACL, the NAACP, and Regan v. King. Prof. Robinson accepted the award and offered brief remarks about his published work, to be released in the upcoming issue of the AABANY Law Review.

Also during the reception, Key Sponsor Hudson Court Reporting and Video and Elite Sponsor Baker Tilly held drawings for prizes. Congratulations to the raffle winners, and thanks to Hudson and Baker Tilly for being such strong supporters of AABANY!

Following the reception, several committees hosted dinners: The Real Estate/Solo Small Firm Committees hosted their dinner at S Dynasty, sponsored by Bank of America. The Litigation/Young Lawyers Committees had a wonderful Italian dinner at Aperitivo. The Bankruptcy/Corporate Law Committees had their dinner at Banc Café, thanks to sponsors UBS and Donlin Recano. Thomson Reuters sponsored the Intellectual Property Committee dinner at Fusia.

Right after the committee dinners, energetic attendees convened at Rare View Rooftop for the afterparty. The attendees enjoyed drinks and each other’s company while admiring panoramic views of the New York City skyline, at least until the rain came down. Not to be deterred by the downpour, guests took the party downstairs to Rare Bar & Grill on the ground floor to continue their post-conference celebration.

We hope everyone who came to the 2013 NAPABA Northeast Regional/AABANY Fall Conference had an enjoyable and productive time. We hope to see you at the 2013 NAPABA Annual Convention in Kansas City in November!

AABANY Law Review Announces Winners of the Scholarly Paper Prize and Student Note Competition

The AABANY Law Review is pleased to announce the winners of its inaugural Scholarly Paper Prize and Student Note Competition:
 

  • Greg Robinson (Professor of History at l’Université du Québec à Montréal) for his article, In Defense of Birthright Citizenship: The JACL, the NAACP, and Regan v. King. The Article tells the story of Regan v. King, in which West Coast nativists brought suit in federal court to disenfranchise American citizens of Japanese origin. The case reaffirmed the birthright citizenship of all Americans (first recognized by the Supreme Court in its 1898 decision Wong Kim Ark) and represents a pioneering instanceof multiracial coalition-building as the NAACP allied itself with the Japanese American Citizens League to fight for their constitutional rights. 
  • Daniel Bowman (Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law) for his note, Justifying Disparate Impact: Why a Discriminatory Effect Standard is Essential to the Fair Housing Act. Daniel’s note examines the historical development of the disparate impact standard under Title VII and the Fair Housing Act, and considers the upcoming Supreme Court case of Mount Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, Inc., which will address the question of whether disparate impact claims are cognizable under the Fair Housing Act. 

In addition to a cash prize, both authors’ pieces will appear in the AABANY Law Review’s winter issue, and Prof. Robinson will be speaking about his paper at the NAPABA Northeast Regional/AABANY Fall Conference. Congratulations to both, and thanks to everyone who submitted! For more information about the AABANY Law Review, please visit http://www.aabanylawreview.org/ or contact lawreview@aabany.org