The New York Daily News editorial board recently lauded Stanley Manne, a 1952 graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, for donating $18 million to his internationally-renowned alma mater.
This extraordinarily generous gift is the second largest to an American public high school, after Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman’s $25 million donation in 2018, to his suburban Philadelphia alma mater, Abington High School.
Manne’s endowment is for the construction of a 10,000-square-foot building with state-of-the art research laboratories, which will, according to an alumni association e-mail, “cement the school’s place as a nationwide center of student scientific research.”
Since the prestigious Westinghouse Science Talent Search began in 1942, Bronx Science has led the nation in cultivating semifinalists, with at least 1,300 of 24,000, or a spectacular 5%.
Annually, 300 semifinalists are chosen, and America has nearly 27,000 public and private high schools.
Among the prominent graduates of Bronx Science who participated in this venerable contest are Leon Cooper (’47), the Nobel Physics laureate in 1972; Sheldon Glashow (’50), Nobel Physics laureate in 1979; and George Yancopoulos, M.D./Ph.D. (’76), the president and chief scientific officer of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.
(During three years at Bronx Science in the 1960s, I wasn’t a participant.)
In 2016, Regeneron succeeded Intel as only the third corporate sponsor of the Science Talent Search.
Last year, the Westchester-based biotechnology company developed the monoclonal antibody cocktail — REGEN-COV — that has successfully treated former President Donald Trump, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson, and many other people, in America and around the world, who were infected with the deadly COVID-19 virus.
Dr. Yancopoulos’ co-founder, Leonard Schleifer, M.D./ Ph.D., also participated in the Westinghouse Contest, while a senior at Forest Hills High School in Queens (’70), and they have pledged $10 million annually for a decade, double Intel’s contribution.
At the July 21 groundbreaking ceremony for the “Manne Science Institute at Bronx Science,” Mayor Bill de Blasio asked the successful businessman and philanthropist, who has a degree in chemical engineering from Columbia and an MBA from the University of Chicago: “Why do you care so much about Bronx Science? Why have you done this?
Manne succinctly replied: “Because this place gave me everything.”
The Daily News editorial on July 28 justifiably criticized Mayor de Blasio, who has been “in office since 2014, [but] took until last week to visit the Bronx High School of Science (he doesn’t like the entrance exam).”
Indeed, the mayor did not celebrate even once, during the last eight Intel or Regeneron contests, as Bronx Science cultivated 84 semifinalists, more than those from any other American high school.
Other top incubators of semifinalists since 2014 are: Montgomery Blair (Silver Spring, Maryland) and Bergen County Academies (Hackensack, New Jersey), 67 each; North Carolina School of Science and Math (Durham), 60; and The Harker School (San Jose, California), 57.
But the Daily News’ criticism — “he doesn’t like the entrance exam” — is only half the story, as it ignores Mayor de Blasio’s unsuccessful sneak attack in 2018, to bum-rush through the state legislature, a bill abolishing the Calandra-Hecht Act.
This 1971 law mandates the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT), as the only gateway into Bronx Science, Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech and five other top academic public high schools.
Nevertheless, De Blasio’s remarks, at last month’s groundbreaking at Bronx Science, are a startling about-face, as he extolled the school’s greatness – past, present and future:
“Stanley said, and I agree with him, build up Bronx Science and you build up the city, right? If Bronx Science is thriving and producing the extraordinary talent, then all of New York City is benefitting, all this country is benefitting, and now a lot more people are going to be great, a lot more kids are going to meet their full potential because of you, Stanley.”
Eric Adams, the retired NYPD captain, is the Democratic mayoral candidate in November’s election, and he also supported the abolition of the SHSAT three years ago.
But the current Brooklyn borough president quickly changed his mind, after major blowback from Chinese-American supporters.
Asian New Yorkers are the largest racial or ethnic group at the eight SHSAT schools, and this year they received 54% of the 4,262 offers to one of the exam schools.
Interestingly, 388 of successful candidates, or 9%, did not identify themselves as Native American, Asian, White, Black or Latino, but as Multiracial or Unknown.
During the last two years, Ronald Lauder, the businessman and philanthropist, has spearheaded a campaign that raised $2 million for a tutoring program, to increase the number of black or Hispanic 8th graders who succeed on the SHSAT.
Currently, these two groups also represent only 9% of successful test-takers. Whites are 28%.
Ronald (’61) and brother Leonard (’50) own the Estee Lauder Companies, and both are Bronx Science alumni. Ronald, a prominent Republican, proclaimed in 2020: “Graduating from the Bronx High School of Science was one of the greatest days of my life, and I want to give every student in our city the chance to experience the power of a world-class education.”
Finally, the “Manne Science Institute at Bronx Science” will be open to students and teachers at several neighboring high schools.
Mark Schulte is a retired New York City schoolteacher and mathematician who has written extensively about science and the history of science. Read Mark Schulte's Reports — More Her
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.