Accuracy in Media

Jason Riley, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute For Policy Research and Wall Street Journal columnist, pointed out the problem with the Washington Post’s coverage of the merit-based admission system currently in place in New York City public schools. Admission into the city’s most prestigious schools is based on a single, color-blind exam that is given uniformly across schools.

“The Washington Post’s education writer likened the low black acceptance rates at New York’s top schools to the recently exposed college bribery scandal, calling it ‘an admissions scandal of a different sort,” Riley wrote. “Apparently, when black students demonstrate academic excellence, it’s celebrated. When Asian students do so, it’s scandalous.”

Riley called out the characterization of the high proportion of Asian-American students as a “scandal.” Riley reported about how Asian students comprise only 16.1 percent of the city’s public school system but received a majority of the admissions, 51.1 percent. And white students, who are 15 percent of public-school students, and blacks, who are 26 percent, were offered 28.5 percent and 4 percent of the seats, respectively.

“The notion that these schools aren’t diverse enough tells you something about the politicization of terms like ‘diversity,” Riley wrote. “Asians not only enrich these schools racially and ethnically but also bring economic diversity. The Manhattan Institute’s Kay Hymowitz has reported in City Journal that a disproportionate number of Asians admitted to these schools come from a low-income neighborhood in Brooklyn where Chinese immigrant parents “have crammed themselves into dorm-like quarters, working brutally long hours waiting tables, washing dishes, and cleaning hotel rooms.”

The Asian student outcomes we see year after year aren’t the result of luck or “privilege.” They stem from hard work and a culture that prioritizes learning. Research shows that Asian kids read more books, watch less television, and study longer. In poorer families, money goes toward test-prep instead of $200 sneakers. The results are obvious at elite schools nationwide, where even low-income Asian students have outperformed middle- and upper-income students from other groups. “For Chinese immigrants,” Ms. Hymowitz writes, “education for the next generation is close to a religion. It opens the path to a good life.”

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