A regular discussion in NYC is that representation at the top three Specialized High School Admissions Test based public high schools (which are some of the best in the city), is completely disproportionate to what the public school population looks like. Asian and White kids make up most of the students at the three best schools, whereas black and latino kids? They top out at like %10 of students and are for the most part kids like Dante De Blasio (the mayor's son).
So, people are constantly saying: get rid of the test, equalize, etc. So they studied removing the test and moving to a holistic approach...and that'd pretty much most help the sorta privileged white kids who have the luxury of becoming well rounded and who have the adults in their lives who can make it happen.
So how about just taking the top %X for each public school? Here's where education inequality rears its ugly head. Like not only are these schools difficult, but the non-honors/AP track is their only attempt at remedial anything. And you really wanna be on the honors/AP track 'cause that's where most of the best teachers are, but I vaguely remember the income inequality skyrocketing in the AP classes. Like way more upper middle class white people, fewer of the poorer Asian kids...this may have changed over the years though.
So the best kids from terrible schools? They probably won't be able to hack it 'cause they were never given the tools to hack it. Both This American Life (Three Miles) and Planet Money (Community) just ran stories on flailing college kids, and 'tis much the same story on the high school level. Except, 'tis even more insidious 'cause 'tis an open secret that these high schools will encourage kids to drop out (hopefully to a local school) rather than mess up their Amazing statistics.
In her article on the specialized high school's race problem for Brooklyn Magazine, Kristin Iversen makes the excellent point that this is really the wrong fight. That politicians love it when Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Tech (the top three of the get in via test schools) are used as straw men 'cause it distracts the conversation from the abysmal education underprivileged kids are getting, the sorta education that makes these school's so out of reach.