posts 1 - 15 of 29
freemanjud
Boston, US
Posts: 205

In class on Thursday/Friday, we talked about Boston Latin’s history within Boston and the ongoing debate about exam schools and who gets to attend them.

We divided into breakout rooms and looked at three articles:


1. Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, “There’s Something wrong with the Exam School Tests--Not with Blac and Latinx Children,” Boston Globe, October 22, 2020

https://drive.google.com/file/d/17Ax9uiL371T1ngbGN...

or

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/10/22/opinion/tra...

2. Chester Finn, Jr., “A Progressive Assault on Selective High Schools,” Wall Street Journal, November 25, 2020.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BXGt7wlP1f4TEf...

3. Alvin Chang, “The Fraught Racial Politics of Entrance Exams for Elite High Schools,” Vox, June 14, 2018.

https://www.vox.com/2018/6/14/17458710/new-york-sh...


…which offered three perspectives on so-called “elite” selective high schools.


Here too is data that I shared with you in class on the current racial makeup of Boston Latin School, both for the 2020-2021 and the 2019-2020 school years. (Data is current as of 11 November 2020.)


Race

2020-2021 Number

2020-2021 Percentage

2019-2020 Number

2019-2020 Percentage

Black

192

7.74%

195

8.13%

White

1105

44.52%

1135

47.33%

Asian

732

29.49%

695

28.98%

Hispanic

333

13.42%

282

11.76%

Native Am.

2

0.08%

2

0.08%

Other

118

4.75%

89

3.71%

TOTAL

2482

100.0%

2398

100.0%

What we did not have a chance to do fully in class is to reconvene and link the history of race-related issues in Boston to the issue of who should attend exam schools and how those two issues are related or not.


So let’s hear your voices. Based on what you now know about the history of race-related issues in Boston, what do you think should happen at Boston Latin School? In terms of admissions? In terms of what we learn here? In terms of the future?


And as a PS: the Topol Fellows will be hosting an open forum on exam school admissions after school on Wednesday December 9, 2020 and you will receive extra credit for.
Earl Grey Tea
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

Focusing on Equity Instead

From what I’ve learned so far, the problems our school has faced in past attempts to make the admissions process more equitable is backlash from people who personalize the new approach and make it about themselves. In McLaughlin v Boston School Committee, it was a father who believed the new approach was unfair to his daughter, and a similar argument was presented in Wessmann v Gittens. Mr. McLaughlin, the attorney, said, “The fact that Blacks and Hispanics have a tougher time as a group is not something that can be put on the back of Sarah Wessmann.” By itself, it isn’t fair to suggest that Blacks and Hispanics were responsible for Sarah’s not getting into BLS, but it’s even worse that Mr. McLaughlin is suggesting the opposite is okay, that it is fine for Sarah’s difficulties getting into BLS to be placed on the backs of Blacks and Hispanics as a group.


As Kendi does, I also support the plan of eliminating the test and setting aside a number of seats from each zip code, allowing our exam schools to more closely reflect the racial and economic makeup of Boston. This will help the three main exam schools in Boston be more equitable. I do think, however, that this solution is only a start, because what is going to stop low-income neighborhoods from then becoming gentrified, with wealthier families looking to improve their chances of getting their child into a good school?


As for Chester Finn’s perspective, he proposes that we focus on developing talented students by building more “gifted and talented” programs in elementary and middle schools and by improving earlier education in general in low-income neighborhoods rather than getting rid of the tests and “randomizing admissions.” I think that these changes should come after we get rid of the tests because although they are the more valuable changes, as Mr. Finn argues, they also take a long time, whereas getting rid of the tests does not. If we want to see results quickly, we should abolish the tests and make the new approach involving zip codes more difficult to personalize, like Boston has already decided to do for the coming year. Then we should improve earlier education in low-income neighborhoods.


I think NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal shows that there are so many possible solutions to the problem and we shouldn’t keep sticking to one if it clearly doesn’t work. Taking two students from each middle school would mean that students would be competing against their neighbors rather than people from other neighborhoods. It’s especially important to consider that the current system there was built by white parents in the 1970s, pushing back on the admission of black and Puerto Rican students.


I think Boston Latin School should offer more classes relevant to these issues, giving us actual statistics we could use in the real world, as this class has, and focusing on teaching us what we may have been misinformed about. I also think we should talk about racism and other systems connected to it whenever it is relevant, instead of reserving these discussions for certain English and history classes. Again for the admissions, I think we should continue without the unfair test and in the meantime improve elementary and middle schools in low-income neighborhoods.


Murs1214
West Roxbury, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

It has been known that Boston has a racist past with things such as sports and school admissions. With the exam schools in the past, they only admitted white students as there were rarely any black and Latinos in the school let alone each class. Coming back to present day, the exam schools have admitted more black and Latinos, but the majority of the exam schools' population is mainly white still and coming in second is the Asian population.

Even though the population of the school remains with black and Latinos being minorities, we have many solutions to help improve this issue. In terms of admissions, the school should look to balance out the admissions race wise in order to balance out the exam schools racial populations. We could also create a course that focuses on black and Latino history in order to honor what happened in the black and Latino past and also have more assemblies to give more recognition to the black and latino past. Overall, there are many possibilities that the exam schools can seize and I hope to see later in the future a more balanced exam school racial demographic.

madagascar
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

No One Is Entitled To BLS

I think that our school has a really long and heavy history with race and racism which should never be forgotten. To move forward progressively, we need to acknowledge and remember the past.

I believe that standardized tests should not be used for the exam school admissions. Just like Dr. Kendi put it, standardized tests have become the most effective racist weapon ever devised…” There are multiple reasons that Black and brown students do worse on standardized tests, and it isn’t because they are not as smart as white and asian students. Many white and asian students get tutored and prepped for the ISEE or whatever other test is being used. They took advantage of their resources and their privilege, which any parent would do given the opportunity. However, so many of these parents and students often forget that it is not their right, they are not owed a spot at an exam school. Yes those students may be smart and work hard, but so are so many other students who don’t have those same resources. It’s not fair that only the well off smart students get to go to an exam school simply because of their up in life. This is why it is only fair to give disadvantaged students the up, because they already start lower, so this is just equaling the balance field. This is turning equality into equity.

Taking away the testing is only the beginning. Then comes the fact that no matter what type of entry there is to exam schools, there is always someone being affected badly or some way to cheat the system. For example, having the entry based off of grades, students at Holy Name mainly all get A’s and therefore almost all of them end up attending an exam school. By having the zip code portion, there are some students who live in zip codes with very high wealth, however their family personally does not.

I think that no admissions process will be 100% fair, however there are hundreds of suggestions to make it close to that. In my opinion, I believe that admission based on a mix of grades, MCAS (private school students would have to take them paid by the state), and teacher recommendations. All of those students which would be the “best of the best”, should be put in a lottery system and chosen at random. This is just one thought and of course it isn’t completely foolproof either.

Of course the solution for this year is just the first step. This is a larger and very complex discussion. It is honestly quite sad that it took a global pandemic for certain people to see the inequities in Boston, and there are still some who refuse to see it.

JGV
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 24

Expose and Address the Inequities

Boston Latin School hides it’s racially aggressive past through its established prestige. As one of the first public schools in the United States, the question of racial disparities and opportunities should not be one that comes into view at this point in the 21st century. It's frankly upsetting that Boston Latin School students are not represented in numbers that reflect the racial demographics of both Boston and BPS at large. In order for real change to occur in the exam schools admissions and BLS there needs to be a continuous effort to make the process more equitable to Black and Latinx students who make up the majority of BPS.


The admissions process should reflect the common-core standards of the state that every student must learn in the sixth grade for those applying to seventh grade and eighth grade for those applying to the ninth grade. The isee test that was recently removed, is a highlight to the inequitable problem because unless you had a tutor, study materials or a targeted lesson, the material was not taught at large. Students in BPS were not given the proper resources and thus are underrepresented, a test should not be a barrier for low income and public school students. As @madagascar said, MCAS scores should be used in addition to gpa because they are on par with the BPS curriculum and state common-core standards and thus would be fair to bps students. The recent proposal for the 2021-2022 school year is a massive step to properly represent the racial and economic diversity of our city because it does not prioritize the economically advantaged who would have previously afforded test prep. The priority should be benefiting the students attending BPS, because for many students this is their sole opportunity for a better education. Mayor DeBlasio’s proposal in NY is a similar step forward to change because it aims to equally represent the students in the new york city public school system.


Dr.Kendi rightfully points out the viewpoint that,” the elephant in the room that the people claiming the standardized test is fair do not want to discuss. [The].. claim white and Asian kids on average score higher on tests because they are smarter or work harder. Meaning Black and Latinx kids are not as smart or not as hard-working". Many parents protested the reform because they thought it was unfair to their children whom they felt were entitled to a placement, while minority students were not. Considering the racially aggressive past of both BLS and Boston it is essential that we address the inequities instead of brushing over racist rhetoric that some races are smarter than others.


In the future there must be changes to the unequal representation in exam schools because minority students are not only underrepresented in their schools, but in the curriculum as well. History classes for the most part tell a white washed or brushed-over history of the United States. Students should not have to wait until their junior or senior year to take electives like Facing or African American Studies. There should be a consistent effort in every history class to address Black history, Latinx History and the unfiltered history of Native Americans. English classes should strive for more diverse literary selections so that students can relate to characters of their same background. There honestly needs to be a complete overhaul and structural change to our education system if we want an equitable future for young people.

yelloworchids
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

There Needs To Be Change

BLS has had a very long and racist history regarding yearly admissions and the student body’s racial makeup.The discovery of BLS’ 1690 headmaster owning slaves in addition to the numerous court cases that have come about as a result of an admissions exam introduced in 1963, should be more than enough reasons to make changes in our system.


There are clear racial disparities when comparing the population of BLS to the total population of BPS students. Black and Latinx students are often left disregarded and found in the lower percentages of BLS’ racial makeup. As Kendi mentions, we know a community is creating equitable policies when it is closing racial and economic inequity. Even after years of racist incidents and admission scandals, BLS is still lacking in terms of properly reflecting Boston’s students. Some parents might argue that the majority of students that get in—that is, the Asian and white students—are simply “smarter”, but fail to realize that their children may have received more advantages than their black and Latinx counterparts. It’s no secret that students that come from financially stable families are able to afford out of school tutoring as well as any other programs that increase their chances of acceptance. Disadvantaged students however, may not receive adequate access to proper resources that increase their chances.


In terms of admissions, I believe eliminating the use of a standardized test to determine admissions into exam schools would be a step in the right direction. In my personal experience, my middle school had two AWC (Advanced Work Class) classes and three regular ed classes within the same grade. After the results for the ISEE had been released, almost all of the AWC students had been admitted into BLS, and barely any were admitted from the regular ed classes—which were composed of mostly black, Latinx, and Asian students. The AWC students were the only ones offered the opportunity to participate in BLS’ free ISEE prep program, and the regular ed students were forced to find other means tutoring—if they could afford it. Not only were many students unaware of the existence of the ISEE in regular ed, the topics seen on the test were topics that were not properly covered by BPS’ curriculum. Which is interesting, considering the fact that BLS is a Boston public school, yet the contents of the test does not cater to what is taught in BPS. Therefore I believe the ISEE is not an adequate assessment of what students know. I think it would be more fair if admission was focused on GPAs, MCAS scores, and where students lived.


In the future I believe there should be more courses focused on the history of black and Latinx people in America. If there was a way to incorporate relevant information into the curriculum that deals with racial disparities seen in our city and nation, I believe that would be a great step in making progress towards a fulfilling curriculum. I hope to see a more diverse student body at BLS in the near future as things are made more equitable.

sizzles
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 17

It's funny how the system works.

Originally posted by madagascar on December 05, 2020 19:32

I think that our school has a really long and heavy history with race and racism which should never be forgotten. To move forward progressively, we need to acknowledge and remember the past.

I believe that standardized tests should not be used for the exam school admissions. Just like Dr. Kendi put it, standardized tests have become the most effective racist weapon ever devised…” There are multiple reasons that Black and brown students do worse on standardized tests, and it isn’t because they are not as smart as white and asian students. Many white and asian students get tutored and prepped for the ISEE or whatever other test is being used. They took advantage of their resources and their privilege, which any parent would do given the opportunity. However, so many of these parents and students often forget that it is not their right, they are not owed a spot at an exam school. Yes those students may be smart and work hard, but so are so many other students who don’t have those same resources. It’s not fair that only the well off smart students get to go to an exam school simply because of their up in life. This is why it is only fair to give disadvantaged students the up, because they already start lower, so this is just equaling the balance field. This is turning equality into equity.

Taking away the testing is only the beginning. Then comes the fact that no matter what type of entry there is to exam schools, there is always someone being affected badly or some way to cheat the system. For example, having the entry based off of grades, students at Holy Name mainly all get A’s and therefore almost all of them end up attending an exam school. By having the zip code portion, there are some students who live in zip codes with very high wealth, however their family personally does not.

I think that no admissions process will be 100% fair, however there are hundreds of suggestions to make it close to that. In my opinion, I believe that admission based on a mix of grades, MCAS (private school students would have to take them paid by the state), and teacher recommendations. All of those students which would be the “best of the best”, should be put in a lottery system and chosen at random. This is just one thought and of course it isn’t completely foolproof either.

Of course the solution for this year is just the first step. This is a larger and very complex discussion. It is honestly quite sad that it took a global pandemic for certain people to see the inequities in Boston, and there are still some who refuse to see it.

Every single decade, the same bloody questions come up. How do we make our city more environmentally sustainable? How do we encourage our residents to lead healthier lives? How do we improve race relations? Every minute that we spend slowly wrangling with these questions, someone's life is negatively impacted. I am sick and tired of talking about this. Keep twiddling your thumbs while your neighbors are being robbed of opportunities right before your eyes. The problem is you don't see them as neighbors; you see them as 'others'.

First of all, I do not appreciate that whenever this topic comes up, the other high-achieving high schools of Boston are not named. There are a number of great, non-exam school high schools in Boston including New Mission, Boston Arts Academy, and Boston Community Leadership Academy. However, since their students are mostly Black and Latino, their success goes unrecognized [at the same level]. I shouldn't be surprised. Usually Black and Brown people are only given props when they live/work/study in White and Asian-dominated spaces, not when they're excelling in Afro-centric institutions. I continue.

I love @madagascar's title--''No one is entitled to BLS''. I could copy and paste any elite institution into that last space. Stereotypes about Black and Brown students are used to justify their dismissal. ''They're rowdy, they don't work hard, they just won't catch up, they're dumb'', are always implied whenever opponents of equity start running their mouths. It's amazing how these same individuals never bring up the redlining of cities (which still affects Black and Latinos because when they move into White and Asian neighborhoods, the property values go down), the Eurocentricism of American education, the intentional segregation of resources, and the flat-out doubt planting of racist teachers into the heads of students of color. They don't care.

In order to combat the glaring inequities of this country (and of our city), the admissions officers should use the zip code plan that is about to be implemented. If they keep any test, they should reserve all free test prep initiatives for low-income BPS students ONLY.

greenbeans
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

Let's Talk About It.

Kendi asserts, “We’re not supposed to be talking about the fact that all Boston children do not have equal access to high-quality test preparation — and it’s impossible to create equal access. We’re not supposed to talk about all this legal cheating.” But let’s talk about it anyway.


There is no denying the racial disparities within BLS. The numbers are all laid out. But the school is not entirely to blame; BLS is simply a facet. After reading all 3 articles, there is still no clear-cut answer. If we keep the system we have now, Blacks and Latinos will continue to fall behind. If we follow De Blasio’s changes, Asians will suffer. However, Chester Finn makes an interesting point that we are so hyper-focused on these exam schools, which harbor such a small percentage of districts’ overall enrollments, that we fail to revive schools that are supposed to create good foundations for these children in the first place: “Mr. de Blasio and colleagues overlook the educational tragedies that the city’s schools routinely inflict on so many of the girls and boys they claim to be looking after.” This statement made me realize that the battle we are choosing to fight is definitely not as big as the one we should be dealing with. Because these exam schools can only accommodate so many students, we should be focusing on strengthening the elementary/middle schools as much as possible (through starting “gifted and talented programs in many more elementary/middle schools”) BEFORE dealing with exam schools. In doing so, a broader scope of children will receive a better foundation for future endeavors—even if they may not be attending an elite exam school. Kendi said it best: “The children who have the least in their homes often have the least in their schools.”


But I am not saying that we should ignore the racial inequalities at BLS. In fact, I am glad that we are pursuing a more-equitable route for underrepresented communities. @madagasdar’s admissions proposal was laid out very well. I agree that we should base our admissions on GPA, MCAS/PARCC exams, and teacher recommendations. But I also think we should do interviews, as schools have a better sense of who they are adding into their community. I think the most important components would definitely be the test scores, as those are more standardized than GPAs (grading is different in every school). Using these exams as our main focus is extremely important, as the material on it is within the common core curriculum. This is just an extra perk, but in using the MCAS/PARCC, students would be more incentivized to take these standardized exams seriously, thus giving schools better performance data. Contrastingly, the ISEE has some challenging material that some students had to have met with a tutor to receive. This test is not a measure of BPS’s teaching capabilities, but rather, the private tutoring industry’s. It was designed for inequitable entry—highly favoring white and Asian students.


In terms of the material taught at BLS, I am glad that we have courses like Facing History and African American studies. However, I wish the content of these classes weren’t so niche to only the students readily eager to learn about them. There is no doubt that BLS does a good job including material that is deemed uncomfortable, taboo, or controversial within its teachings, but it’s the way we disseminate it that matters. I agree that we should educate ourselves more about the disparities and cultures of all minority groups. But not just by creating posters or infographics. We need more meaningful representation of minority authors. Composers. Athletes. But not in the forced way that BLS is currently making us do it (awkward breakout convos in homeroom, required readings, etc.). Although useful and informative, it is so forced upon the student body that it can be a chore to participate. To support more minority authors, BLS genuinely needs to start by implementing more POC into its curriculum for ALL classes and subjects—not just Facing or African American Studies. From the books we read, the scientists we study, the essays we review, the composers we play, the songs we sing, the successful alumni we display on our walls…. They all would make learning about different minority groups so much more natural. This is not a lesson that can be taught entirely through informational readings and statistical videos. We have to submerge ourselves in order to fully understand and appreciate it. In doing so, I believe the process of discussing and digesting the racial disparities within BLS and other exam school admissions would be a lot easier. So let’s talk about it.


20469154661
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 19

What Is Considered "Fair"?

The flawed admission process to gain entry to exam schools cannot be solved simply by abolishing the exams or even by reserving a certain number of spots for students from each zip code. The issue with pulling a select percentage from each zip code, is that not every student within the zip code has a similar situation or resources. The problem with relying on middle school GPA is that not every school has the same standards. That is why the exam is important, every student is tested on the same material and graded on the same scale. If there was a more individualized process, in which the work ethic and intelligence of a student could be assessed, I think that would be a more accurate representation of their capabilities and potential. I think that exams should still be part of the admission process, but I also think that they should not be so heavily relied on. Interviews, essays, teacher recommendations, and grades should also be considered in the process.


Similarly to Chester Finn Jr., I think that it would be beneficial to increase efforts to provide disadvantaged students with resources. This would take the form of “gifted and talented programs in many more elementary and middle schools”. Of course, these programs would not completely create a level playing field, but they are a step in the right direction.


I also think that there probably will not be enough support to abolish exams for exam schools long term, change exam schools into lottery schools, or get rid of exam schools completely. There will most likely be push back from White and Asian parents claiming that the process is unfair and that they are being discriminated against. This has already happened. In Fairfax County an Asian-American father testified that the plan to abolish the exam was “government-sponsored discrimination against Asians.”

Similar events occurred regarding the admission process into Boston exam schools when altercations were made or attempted.


It is very disappointing to see that people still do not recognise the inequality and flaws in the process. It is even worse to see that some think that the racial makeup of an area not being reflected in the racial makeup of “elite” selective high schools is because Latinos, Blacks, Native Americans, and others do not have the same work ethic or are not as intelligent. In addition to altering the admissions process, I also think it is very important to educate people on the situation to prevent or lessen the severity of similar events in the future.

penguinsintherain
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 17

Addressing the Past, Present, and Future of BLS and Race

BLS has a long history of racism and although we have recently begun to work through change, we still have a lot of work to do.


We have to start with changes to the admissions test into BLS, which automatically puts Black, Latinx, and low income students at a disadvantage and has for years. Small changes such as the Exam School Initiative have barely changed the situation overtime, meaning that the entire test needs to be removed, despite the major push back from parents. However, the majority of the pushback comes from white and Asian parents who have been at an advantage for so long by having the resources to prepare for the test.


I agree with Kendi, that there is something very wrong with the admissions process and I believe that eliminating the test and setting aside seats from certain zip codes is a good start to having a more equitable admissions process. Neighborhoods such as West Roxbury which tends to be white and wealthy admit far more students than neighborhoods with more low income neighborhoods and test prep is more available in wealthier neighborhoods. By setting aside a certain number per zip code students from low income neighborhoods or neighborhoods with more residents of color would have access to admissions. The main issue that I see with this is the GPA portion, as many schools inflate grades, but that is a hard issue to solve as it is on a school by school basis. While I’m sure that there will be many more loopholes, it is the best step forward in ensuring the same opportunities for every student and making sure that we stop giving the edge to families that already have the advantage when it comes to testing.


At BLS I agree with @greenbeans that we need to implement a more inclusive curriculum so that we can learn from the perspectives of more people of color. It isn’t enough to have a few forced discussions that seem almost optional in homeroom. We need to work on having tough conversations about race and privilege within our school and addressing the racism within our school that we often tend to avoid. A good way to start would be to first acknowledge our past and present, and then learn how to respectfully engage in discussions that will lead towards progress.

Lobster9
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14

BLS admissions

Based on what we have learned about Boston's history with race related issues I think that some sort of substantial change needs to happen at Boston Latin. We learned about how throughout the school's history there have been race related issues, and I think that is a problem that deserves to be addressed. In school we learn so much about racism and how to be actively anti- racist but it means nothing if as a school as a whole we still hold racist practices. Admissions into BLS is a highly contested issue. Being from west roxbury I hear a lot of my neighbors talking about how it will hurt their kids because now they see the new system as a more difficult way for their kids to get into an exam school. This was extremely telling when you compared their reactions to those of people from other neighborhoods around boston. Neighborhoods that have lower access to educational opportunities have reacted in a totally different way. They see the change in admissions as an opportunity for their kids to get a better education. Looking at the racial makeup of our school and comparing it to the racial makeup of our city shows extreme disproportionalities. BLS is supposed to be a place for children in the city of Boston to receive top quality education. The way BLS is now is not a representation of equal opportunity across the city. BLS highlights the racial, economic, and educational divides across the city. In terms of what we learn at BLS I think that it is almost hypocritical to teach your students to fight racism and stand up to systematic problems in our lives if the school we are learning at is an example of unequal opportunities for all. In the future I hope BLS and the city are able to coordinate a way for students in all neighborhoods of Boston to be able to demonstrate their academic ability through some sort of standardized testing and then for the administration to take into consideration both academically and geographically how well a new candidate for our school could fit. We need to find a way to increase diversity while also maintaining academic standards.
anonymouse
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

Changes in BLS

Boston has a long history of racial discrimination and disparities, especially in terms of its school system. Throughout Boston Latin School’s history, it has been predominantly white and does not reflect the racial makeup of Boston and of Boston Public Schools. Although the exam schools were not always exam schools, they have become known by their admission process which includes an entrance exam.


I agree with Kendi that standardized tests are not the best way to test the intelligence of kids and that many people “legally cheat” on them. Although there is a curriculum in BPS schools, students from different schools have different resources and learn different materials based on textbooks and what each teacher decides to teach. Standardized tests are only generalized materials on different subjects, but do not reflect what the students have learned and understood.


In my opinion, I feel like admission to BLS should have different elements. One component of the admission should be looking at a student’s improvement over their overall GPA, which I believe should have a minor role. Each school should have their own test to reflect the materials the students learned in that school rather than having a standardized test for all students. There should also be a section for recommendations and an interview process for students, which helps schools understand who the students are. This does not guarantee that this method would be the best admission process to provide equal opportunity for everyone, but this would give everyone a fair chance.


The BLS curriculum should be more based on educating students on current issues and their origins. I believe that a classical education is important to the school, but there should be more courses outside of the classical curriculum for students to pick from. In terms of required classes, there should be at least one that addresses the history of our school and looks at current issues in Boston or the U.S. as a whole.


Although I am not sure of what is going to happen in the future for BLS, I believe that BLS will better represent the racial makeup of BPS. With every previous effort to have BLS be more equitable having been opposed by groups of people, it would take a long time for everyone to find and agree on an equitable admission process for BLS and other exam schools.

Wardo
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 16

Community of We?

From what I’ve learned about Boston, through the bussing integration, desegregation and diving into Boston sports, Boston is an extremely racist city and has had a really racist past. Learning about the parents who went to the extent to bring BLS to court, probably understanding that they’re ruining opportunities for other students of color reinforces this. And the parent that said the burdens of the colored community reinforce this as well. The exam school system has been a broken system that has favored white students who come from higher funded schools. And over time through attempts and attempts to change the system to support students of color, there has been constant backlash. Even in present day, it’s difficult to truly understand something when you're hearing about it from articles or from a lecture, but we see parents actively participating in attempts to reintroduce the ISEE though we all fully understand that this will be nearly impossible in the middle of a pandemic. So as we live through it day to day we see Boston’s racism and bigotry continue to blossom and spread free.

So what can BLS do in terms of admissions. That’s extremely difficult to say, you can’t reasonably cut out charter or private school students without an expecting an accompanying lawsuit from an unhappy parent, as we’ve seen in the past, however I feel as though BLS is taking a good first step with their introduction of this plan with the absence of the ISEE. However I also feel as though BLS has to take more domestic steps as well. Not everyone at BLS takes Facing History, nor does everyone have to come to terms with the racism and prejudice in many Boston institutions. So how can BLS help everyone understand and recognize these things, because there are many people, in the BLS community, who feel that the replacement of the ISEE will not only ruin the prestige of BLS, but also the demographic! So how can BLS educate these people on the history of Boston and of BLS? A more practical idea would be to insert a class that teaches about these things, but questions arise like where would you put it and who would teach it, but I feel like questions like these are good, because they get our community thinking and show that our community cares. So one thing moving forward into that future that BLS needs to do is educate each and every one of our students on the history of what it means to be a BLS student, and how many people are deprived of this opportunity as soon as they are born into a certain zip code.

mdooley2
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

Race Past and Present In the history and Acceptance of Students in BLS

After looking at the history of Boston Latin School, the school that is supposed to be one of the most prestigious in the country and is often looked up to by many, one’s expectations for greatness are lowered. To find out that one of the schools very own headmasters owned slaves and a number of the spaces for new students had to be set aside for minorities only because they didn’t have enough to meet the cities desegregation quota is infuriating. Granted this was ages ago, but when we look closer into the school now, we see that not much has changed.

In this past school year (2019-2020), only 8.13% of the students at BLS are black and 11.76% Hispanic whereas the Boston Public School system as a whole is made up of 33% black students and 47.5% Hispanic. For Boston Latin School to say that its made a break from its racist past, their student makeup needs to be closer to that of the Boston Public Schools system as a whole. These statistics show a clear problem with the diversity at BLS and are a root of the more recent racist accounts at the school. Many point fingers at the exam school entrance test as the reasoning for BLS’s lack of equality and inclusion of all races. The argument is that since the exam is harder than the basic curriculum and often requires test prep that students of lower income families can not afford, there is an obvious inequality of inclusion. I agree that the way in which students are accepted into BLS as well as the other exam schools plays favorites towards those that go to better elementary schools and have access to extra help on the exam, and this need to be changed.

I recognize that as a student of BLS myself and one that had the privilege of going to an advanced work class at a good elementary school with access to extra help on the exam, I have bias in this situation. As previously stated, I am aware that our school has a problem that cannot be ignored and I think that the exam is partly to blame, but I also think more attention needs to be given to the elementary schools that the majority of the students are unable to pass the exam. I think that the change in how we accept students is necessary and well overdue, but I don’t think that completely solves the problem. Students that didn’t have the privilege of going to schools that prepared them for an exam school often feel ill-prepared and just because they get in doesn’t mean they are now on the same playing field; these students deserve prep for the school itself.

Beyond the favoritism and racism in the acceptance process itself, there are still issues with our history that I think need to be addressed. It is great that people have started talking about racism in the acceptance process publically, but I have a feeling thta if I didn’t take Facing History, I would never be aware of the racism in my school’s past which I think should be drawn more attention towards.

greenflowers58
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 16

Is it possible to have a completely equitable admissions process?

Based on what I know about the race related issues in Boston and at BLS specifically, such as the busing between schools and its backlash, racism in sports, redlining, and the overwhelming majority of students at BLS being white; it is obvious that there needs to be change in the way things are done in order to make it so that everyone has an equitable opportunity to get in and succeed at the exam schools. Obviously it is a sensitive issue because no matter what Boston decides to do, it will receive backlash from someone but the same goes for if nothing is done.

For one thing, I think that standardized tests definitely shouldn’t be used. As Kendi says in his article, black and latinx students perform disproportionately poorer on the test for a number of reasons and I think it just shows how inequitable a standardized test is because it isn’t all about hard work, and it is unjust that kids who have access to good test prep and tutoring somehow “deserve” a place at BLS more than kids without that. I find part of the issue to be that the test goes way beyond the school curriculum, therefore testing one's ability to get a tutor and study for that specific test and I think that's another reason why the standardized test shouldn’t be used.

Personally I think that a good solution would be the system where the students compete against their own classmates, where the best students from every school (based on grades, teacher recommendations, MCAS) would get a spot and this would avoid the issue of say 20 kids from a predominantly white school and 2 from a predominantly black school getting in. Though this does bring up its own issues about students at private elementary/middle schools, if there are too many schools to take into consideration or not enough kids at one school, etc. But I think that this solution brings a good idea to the table.

I think classes like this one where we get to learn about the history of race related issues in Boston and how we still see its effects today are very important to help people understand the issue with the ISEE and exam schools. Curriculums that teach us more about Black, Latinx, etc. history are really important and I think they should be taught more commonly, not just being an elective.

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