Every year, New York City middle-schoolers subject themselves to a grueling academic ritual that could make or break their educational futures, or so they're told. The 2.5-hour multiple-choice Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) serves as the sole gateway to a suite of elite public schools -- particularly Bronx Science, Stuyvesant and Brooklyn Technical. The kids who make the cut tend to be disproportionately Asian and white; Latino and black students are vastly underrepresented.
Civil rights groups are now waging a legal challenge  accusing New York City's education authorities of tying the elite tier of schools to an arbitrary test that effectively perpetuates inequality. The complaint was filed by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College  on behalf of a coalition of civil rights and community groups.