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As Predicted, Boston “Zip Code Quota Plan” For Elite Public Schools Reduced Asian and White Admissions, Raised Black and Latino

As Predicted, Boston “Zip Code Quota Plan” For Elite Public Schools Reduced Asian and White Admissions, Raised Black and Latino

Lawsuit by parents lost in district court, now on appeal. Attorney: “The goal of the Zip Code Quota Plan was to reduce the opportunity for Asian and White students to attend the Exam Schools, by limiting competition for 80 percent of the seats…. The Boston School Committee achieved — indeed, surpassed — its goal. We continue to believe that such racial gerrymandering violates the constitutional right to equal protection.”

In late February 2021, we covered a lawsuit filed by a group of Boston, Massachusetts, parents objecting to changes to admissions criteria for an elite public school, Boston Parents Sue Alleging Discrimination Against Asians and Whites In Change of Prestigious Public School Admissions:

Boston Parent Coalition for Academic Excellence (BPCAE) has sued over changes in how students are admitted to a small number of prestigious public schools.

Previously, admission was based on test scores, but Boston, claiming the results were racially unequal, decided to factor in zip codes as to admission. The result would be to exclude many asian-american and white students who otherwise would have gained admission. The parents group alleges the use of zip codes was a subterfuge for illegal use of race and ethnicity.

The Complaint asserted that zip codes were being used as a proxy for race and ethnicity. Here is the Introduction:

“Distinctions between citizens solely because of their ancestry are by their very nature odious to a free people, and therefore are contrary to our traditions and hence constitutionally suspect.” Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, 570 U.S. 297, 309 (2013) (citations and quotations omitted). In contravention of this fundamental principle of American values – and constitutional law – the Defendants have imposed upon the school children of Boston a racial and ethnic classification system for entry into its most prestigious public schools: the Boston Latin School, the Boston Latin Academy, and the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science, known collectively as the Boston Exam Schools.

Defendants achieved this by subordinating the longstanding merit-based citywide competition to a newly-created, and wholly-irrational quota system based on zip codes, which have never been a unit of educational qualification, and which are being purposefully used here as a proxy for race and ethnicity (the “Zip Code Quota Plan”). By depriving some school children of educational opportunity based on their race or ethnicity, Defendants do great harm, not only to the children they seek to exclude but also to the Boston Exam Schools, which they would use as the instruments of their discrimination, to the City of Boston, and to this country’s cherished principle of equal protection.

It is to vindicate these important interests – and to safeguard the educational opportunities that Defendants would impair – that the Boston Parents bring their Complaint before this Court.

The Complaint alleges discriminatory intent and result:

25. The Defendants’ purpose in recommending, adopting and implementing the Zip Code Quota Plan is to disfavor certain racial and ethnic groups (Asian and White applicants) while favoring others (Latino and African-American applicants).

26. The effect of the Zip Code Quota Plan is likewise to disfavor certain racial and ethnic groups (Asian and White applicants) while favoring others (Latino and African-American applicants).

* * *

33. The purpose and effect of the Zip Code Quota Plan are to use zip codes as precisely such a proxy for race and ethnicity, so as to artificially favor Latino and African-American students to the detriment of Asian and White students. This violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In mid-April, federal court Judge William Young (you may recall him from the Shoebomber case), ruled in favor of the school district, denying injunctive relief and dismissing the case. You can read the full decision here:

Boston Parents v. Boston City Schools – Order Dismissing Case – April 15, 2021

The court ruled — in what is called non-binding dicta because it was not dispositive of the case — that “equity” of result would have been stricken.

Without question, some statements [of school board officials] raise cause for concern. The statement within the Equity Planning Tool, for example, about a hard pivot away from equality and towards equity simply has no support in the Equal Protection jurisprudence of the Supreme Court. See, e.g., Feeney, 442 U.S. at 273 (“[T]he Fourteenth Amendment guarantees equal laws, not equal results.”). Had this Plan unconstitutionally substituted equality of result for equality of opportunity along racial lines, this Court would not hesitate to strike it down.

But that is not what happened here.

That’s important to keep in mind given how pervasive “equity” (equality of result) is throughout Critical Race Training and it’s various offshoots, such as “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”

A key finding, however, was that zip codes in this plan were not a proxy for race or ethnicity, and hence did not subject the plan to “strict scrutiny” review, only “rational basis” review.

Apparently well counseled, the School Committee considered diversity and developed its Plan within the permissible framework of the Supreme Court precedent. Despite its goal of greater “racial, socioeconomic and geographic diversity [better to reflect the diversity of] all students (K-12),” the Plan principally anchors itself to geographic diversity by equally apportioning seats to the City’s zip codes according to the criterion of the zip code’s percentage of the City’s school-age children. See supra Section II.D. The Plan similarly anchors itself to socioeconomic diversity by ordering the zip codes within each round by their median family income. See supra Section II.D. The Plan is devoid, however, of any anchor to race. See supra Section II.D…

The School Committee’s goal of a more racially representative student body, although more often discussed and analyzed, did not commandeer the Plan, and it in factnecessarily took a back seat to the Plan’s other goals, which the Plan more aptly achieved. Consequently, any effect on the racial diversity of the Exam Schools is merely derivative of the Plan’s effect on geographic and socioeconomic diversity — not the reverse.

This Court finds and rules that the Plan is race-neutral, and that neither the factors used nor the goal of greater diversity qualify as a racial classification.

That finding, of course, lacked a certain reality. As Judge Young noted, the school board was “well counseled” — i.e., the lawyers told them which magic wording needed to be used to survive a court challenge.

We know Judge Young’s findings lacked a reality check because the results of the plan were just released, and the use of zip codes had the intended racial and ethnic impact on admissions. The Boston Globe reports, Changes in admission rules for Boston exam schools boosted diversity of accepted students:

A temporary change in the admissions criteria for Boston’s exam schools increased the diversity of the accepted applicants, particularly boosting the percentages of Black, Latino, and low-income students, according to data released Friday.

The data analysis confirms earlier projections that temporarily suspending the admissions exam and instead using grades and ZIP codes would lead to a more diverse selection of applicants and lower the portion of white and Asian students receiving admission offers….

The portion of admission offers going to white applicants decreased to 26 percent this year from 33 percent last year. For Asian applicants, acceptances dropped to 16 percent this year from 21 percent last year, according to data released by the school department.

By contrast, the portion of acceptances sent to Black applicants rose to 24 percent this year from 18 percent last year, and those going to Latino applicants increased to 28 percent this year from 24 percent last year.

The data do not include a racial breakdown of acceptances at each institution: Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy, and the O’Bryant School of Math and Science….

William Hurd, an attorney for the parents group, suggested in a statement that the school department analysis reinforces his clients’ concerns.

“The goal of the Zip Code Quota Plan was to reduce the opportunity for Asian and White students to attend the Exam Schools, by limiting competition for 80 percent of the seats,” he said. ”The Boston School Committee achieved — indeed, surpassed — its goal. We continue to believe that such racial gerrymandering violates the constitutional right to equal protection.”

The parents have appealed, but were denied an emergency injunction pending appeal:

Boston Parents v. Boston City Schools – 1st Circuit – Order Denying Emergency Injunction – April 28, 2021

The plan challenged in court was only temporary, for this incoming applicant class. Boston is in the process of deciding whether to make it permanent.

Eliminating or minimizing standardized tests is anti-Asian discrimination, both in intent and result. Anyone who lives in the real world knows that.


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It’s perfectly acceptable (has no effect) if every racial group has the same average IQ, which is the only belief that’s acceptable even in the courts.

    Ben Kent in reply to rhhardin. | May 10, 2021 at 8:59 pm

    Do a google search on average IQ by country. The results are interesting. Look at east Asian countries vs Sub-Saharan Africa. Facts are not racist.

    Of course, it’s also important to know that every person is different and every race has high performers and low performers. And IQ is just one factor in a person’s ability to contribute to society and lead a productive and fulfilling life.

    broomhandle in reply to rhhardin. | May 11, 2021 at 10:01 am

    Don’t underestimate the value of hard work. A hard worker can sometimes outperform a lazy smart person in school. But I get your point.

They want to do the same in NY. They already did it in Boston and Virginia.

NY State Senate Bill S3087 — proposal to eliminate the entrance exam for specialized High Schools (the test is called the Specialized High School Aptitude Test (SHSAT). It’s an objective test of each applicants ability to succeed in a high performance academic environment.


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The new policy “Raised Black and Latino Admissions”

= lowering all merit-based achievement scores across the board.

Culture matters.

healthguyfsu | May 10, 2021 at 9:38 pm

This happens in India too with the caste system reparations nonsense. A friend of mine that I met in my postdoc missed going to Pharmacy school in India because another person in his district (who was actually related to him) belonged to a “lower” caste and was able to go in, write his name down, leave, and get the seat. My friend had no chance to make it in no matter what he scored.

    Aarradin in reply to healthguyfsu. | May 10, 2021 at 11:41 pm

    My department is currently trying to fill an open position: a black woman retired.

    Any applicant that is not a black woman is being discriminated against – they have zero chance of being hired.

    We have a federal affirmative action quota to meet.

    Qualifications for the job are meaningless.

The elite schools will cease to exist
You actually need elite students for that

Not zip codes

It will be interesting to watch the mismatch that results from accepting students who are less able to keep up with the work. The teachers may have to water down the courses to the lowest common denominator, namely the ability of the minority kids to keep up. I wouldn’t be surprised if they slip in race-based handicap points to achieve “equity” among the different groups.

    Aarradin in reply to OldProf2. | May 10, 2021 at 11:45 pm

    I was at Rennselaer Polytech, starting the year after the hockey team won NCAA championship – saw the exact same thing for the hockey players.

    Prior, you had to be an engineering or science major there. And the easiest mathematics course offered was calculus. After, there was a “Business Management” major, and what we all referred to as “puck math”.

    They had their own courses and their own major, for the entire four years that they were there, and a got a worthless degree out of it.

      The Friendly Grizzly in reply to Aarradin. | May 11, 2021 at 8:37 am

      Priorities! Yay team!

      SeiteiSouther in reply to Aarradin. | May 11, 2021 at 10:27 am

      We had something similar for DRCM majors, affectionately termed “Mathematical Road to Nowhere.”

      tbonesays in reply to Aarradin. | May 11, 2021 at 5:45 pm

      I’d take that bet. What year are you talking about and what happened to all the student athletes with their “worthless” degrees from RPI?

      vinnymeyer in reply to Aarradin. | May 11, 2021 at 9:23 pm

      When were you there? I remember one of the hockey team was majoring in “humanities” – that’s what it said in the campus directory. As far as I know RPI had no other students with that major that year.

        tbonesays in reply to vinnymeyer. | May 12, 2021 at 1:06 am

        One can major in literature at MIT. I suspect they still can get a job.

          henrybowman in reply to tbonesays. | May 12, 2021 at 6:53 am

          Except at MIT, your major barely comes into play during your first two years, during which you have to conquer their “General Institute Requirements” — “basic” courses in Calculus, Differential Equations, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology — to get any Bachelor of Science degree. And MIT doesn’t offer a Bachelor of Arts.

      Swamp Survivor in reply to Aarradin. | May 13, 2021 at 6:42 pm

      Let’s not get down on college hockey players.

      Wasn’t that RPI championship in the early ’60s? After coaching that team to its NCAA championship, the coach, Ned Harkness, moved to Cornell Univ. because it was 90 miles closer to Canada, from which he recruited all the Cornell players. (Well, one went to high school at Deerfield Academy, a excellent prep school, but he was a Canadian.) In ’67 Harkness repeated his success — NCAA champs in ’67 and ’70, I think.

      Many of the Cornell players took appropriate courses in the College of Agriculture, because they would be returning to their family farms. Others took appropriate majors for their chosen career paths. I will use as an example someone you may have heard about, Ken Dryden was a very good history major. At the time, Cornell’s History Dept. was still “world class.” Dryden went back to Canada, specifically, McGill Law School for his law degree — I’m not an expert but McGill Law, I always heard, was also “world class.”

      Of course, taking tests, even math tests, and writing papers is no indication of I.Q. Last I heard, Dryden was a socialist in Canada’s parliament.

The emergency-injunction appeal ruled that although the district court admitted evidence that a working group in the Boston Schools crafted the admissions process to achieve equity, by ranking admissions in reverse income order thus favoring Latinos and Blacks, they found that this action, which clearly discriminates by race, doesn’t necessarily automatically require strict scrutiny. In other words, this jurist will overlook the discrimination and equity goals of the working group, because it would fail the strict scrutiny challenge towards “equity.”

The rest of the decision rationalizes this leftist “jurist” judge’s partisans views. Why did this judge even bother with the findings of facts, rulings of law, and order of judgement when he had no intention at the start to resolve any dispute over facts and laws.

That’s what happens when you load a court with partisan hacks who went into the case with the notion to support this new leftist fetish over “equity” that

We no longer live in the United States of America

If you want to end racism, then stop discriminating by race.

It really is that simple.

Literally everything the Left stands for is just the opposite.

Systemic diversity (e.g. racism). Treating symptoms for-profit is a forward-looking policy, a rich source of green secular lucre, and is, unfortunately, a sustainable, progressive condition. One step forward, two steps backward. Some, Select Lives Matter is a Pro-Choice religious doctrine.

Diversity [dogma], inequity, and exclusion. This progress could have been mitigated and resolved in one generation.

That said, diversity of individuals, minority of one. Baby Lives Matter.

How’s this for a prediction:

America, will be at one of its lowest points in the coming days, if not the worse point in America’s history. And just when it looks like things can go no lower, Biden will drop dead and Kamala Harris will become president.

henrybowman | May 11, 2021 at 1:03 am


The Complaint asserted that zip codes were being used as a proxy for race and ethnicity.

“Damn. They caught on. We’ll have to find a new way to covertly discriminate against white people and Asians.”

“I know! Let’s tell them everybody has to be chosen by a Hogwarts Sorting Hat! We can hide a colorimeter inside it, and ask Dominion for an algorithm to get exactly the racial mixture we want!”

    MajorWood in reply to henrybowman. | May 11, 2021 at 1:23 pm

    Seriously, it would take all of 15 seconds to demonstrate that races are represented unequally in the zip codes, therefore discrimination.

    On a plus note, those at the elite schools who choose medicine as a future career will do better because they will have experience at treating knife and gunshot wounds well before their 3rd year in med school..

Everything that progressives touch turns to sh*t. The stupidity of voters and the venality of officials enabled this.

If the goal is to have an equal distribution of a minority — how does that math work out for a group that represents less than 20% of the population?

Are they to create people to fill in the gaps to 50%?

If these are public schools — aren’t they locked into serving the local population — or the zip code they are located in? Are they grabbing kids across town?

The Dumbing Down of the Education System to cater to race ,,, job well done Boston School Board !!!

    JusticeDelivered in reply to tcurran. | May 11, 2021 at 12:51 pm

    I is not just Boston, the whole education system has been domned down for many decades, it is just becoming worse.

As if middle class people needed more reasons to bail out of the cities.

Formerly known as Skeptic | May 11, 2021 at 11:57 am

If this stands, I predict an unexpected consequence of White and Asian families moving into the targeted zip codes, aka gentrification, which will promptly be denounced.

I have no idea how the Boston, MA, judge explained his logic, but here is how Richmond, Virginia, views the situation.

In Richmond, in the case of PUBLIC schools, this IS actually an equity issue regarding FINANCE. Taxpayers from each surrounding county fund a very limited number of student slots for students to attend a regional gifted school. The school system of each county picks its methods to fill those slots. A common method is that each county high school gets to send an equal number of students to the regional gifted school and that number may be a low number (3-4 students per grade level per school). In my experience, the practical reality in Richmond is that many of the very few slots are filled by school system administrators’ and employees’ and favorites’ kids because their parents’ literally control the admissions process. That’s the REAL secret and scandal (and potentially the reason for downplaying and eliminating the various IQ test scores.).

But, the official explanation is that the taxpayers who fund the many PUBLIC schools from different counties that feed students into the one regional gifted school expect to have an equal number of student slots (i.e., opportunity) per school/community to attend the regional gifted school. Otherwise, why would these local taxpayers keep sending their tax monies out of their counties to another county/city to pay for a regional school that their kids have no meaningful chance to attend? Put simply, this is a funding issue.

Note: I would be willing to bet that most, if not all, of the Asian and white parents complaining about the PUBLIC gifted school admissions process in NOVA could afford to send their kids to high caliber private schools, but these parents want other taxpayers (whose kids have traditionally had demonstrably less chance to be admitted) to fund their kids’ private school type of education. Worse yet is that it appears that some wealthy and connected foreign citizen families may move to NOVA from other countries with the intent to attend the NOVA gifted school which is sincerely annoying to long time tax paying residents whose kids have had little practical chance to attend the NOVA gifted school….