Numerus Clausus Redux?

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Higher education quotas—known as Numerus Clausus—date back to 19th century Russia, if not earlier. These quotas took a variety of forms and could be institutional or informal, state-wide or confined to particular areas. They were implemented across Eastern and Western Europe and the main purpose was restricting the influence of ethnic and religious Jews in the broader (Christian) society.

Some Americans are not aware that similar restrictions, while not officially legislated, existed in United States universities from the time of the Russian Revolution until the beginning of the Cold War (1917- early 1950s). This was particularly the case in Ivy League schools. American universities in western states have recently been investigated for following similar policies to restrict the number of Asian student admissions.

This week a story about an Indian girl denied access to an academically competitive NYC public school has received attention at a number of Desi blogs: 

[props to Turbanhead] 

All White Ain’t Right 

A Brooklyn mother and father got the shock of their lives when school officials informed them their brilliant 11-year-old girl denied admission to an elite public school – solely because she’s of Indian descent. 

“I feel bad because I would have gotten in if I was white,” Nikita Rau lamented over her failed bid to attend the Mark Twain School, IS 239, in Coney Island, a magnet school for gifted students.

It turns out Mark Twain – unlike all but one other city public school – admits students according to racial quotas established in 1974 by a federal judge who ordered the school’s desegregation.Under those quotas – which originally were intended to boost minority enrollment – 60 percent of Mark Twain’s student body is set aside for white students, while 40 percent is set aside for minorities.

“This country believes in racial equality, and we should not face this in America,” said Nikita’s dad, Dr. Anjan Rau, a Bay Ridge resident who emigrated from India in 1982.

“I think it’s morally wrong!

[continue reading]

I’m not trying to be alarmist. This is not a replay of the Numerus Clausus. But the end result is a child of Indian ancestry denied access to an academically rigorous public school because of her national origin.Write polite letters to Carol Moore, the principal of the school, and Chancellor Klein at the Department of Education and express your opinion:

Carol Moore, Principal
Mark Twain Intermediate School #239 for the Gifted & Talented
2401 Neptune Avenue — Brooklyn, NY 11224
Ph. 718-266-0814 — Fax. 718-266-0814
Email: cmoore@schools.nyc.gov

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