posts 1 - 15 of 32
freemanjud
Boston, US
Posts: 181

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.
lavagirl
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 6

The Problem is Bigger Than Just BLS

First of all, I have to admit that I hardly knew anything about the racism throughout BLS’s history. I believe that it is important to recognize that history and not try to pretend it doesn’t exist. Like the saying goes, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

I agree that there needs to be a change, but I don’t believe that it starts with Boston Latin School. There needs to be a whole reworking of the BPS system in general and that, in turn, will give everyone a better education, regardless of whether they go to BLS or not. To give an example of why I think this way, my elementary school hosted several sessions of test prep on Saturday mornings leading up to big standardized tests, and especially for the ISEE. Frankly, what I remember most was the mom that came in and cooked us fresh pancakes that were really amazing. The teachers came in to help. Not with the pancakes, with the learning, The ISEE test was talked about a lot. MCAS was extremely important. Throughout the whole year, my teachers would always tell us to remember certain things because they would be on the MCAS. A lot of kids from my elementary school ended up testing into the exam schools. But now that I think about it, it was the white kids. The kids who were POC stayed in that elementary school for seventh and eighth grades. At my elementary school, my class was split into two groups and although it was never specifically stated by any teacher, everyone knew that one group was the “smart group” and the other one was the “dumb group”. The smart group got into the AWS (Advanced Work Shop) and eventually, the exam schools. That being said, the kids in the AWS program were all the white kids in my grade whereas the kids in the normal track were all of the kids who were POC. And, I realize now that this separation started in kindergarten.

But getting into an exam school is not even half the battle. There is no getting around the fact that BLS is a tough school. If a student did not have a strong enough foundation, they’re not going to be able to keep up with the workload. That’s why I think that all schools, starting with kindergarten, need reform.

Schools that perform higher on standardized tests, get more funding from the state, which in my opinion is absolutely idiotic. I think that it should be the other way around. Schools that do better on standardized tests are obviously doing something right, so just let them be. But, the schools that are getting lower scores need funding to get the same resources that the higher-performing schools get so that they can also become high-performing. Basically, what this means is that people from lower-income areas are not getting the same level of education as people from higher-income areas, since their schools do not have the funding for things such as a decent staff and tutoring. So, if they get into BLS based on their zip code rather than their GPA, those kids are going to struggle since they did not have the strong educational foundation that their other peers do. On top of that, people in lower income areas are also more likely to be working jobs to help support their family, meaning that they will have less time to do homework.

dewdropdoll
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

A step in the right direction

Over the past few weeks, I have learned a lot about Boston’s history that I did not really know before. I understood that Boston was not as progressive or anti-racist as people like to think, but it was shocking to dive deep into its history and really see that Boston is not an exception to race-related issues. One particular video that is engraved in my mind now when I think about education and race in Boston is the video showing the massive protests and attacks against busing. Seeing the same neighborhoods I’ve seen many times before filled with people on the streets protesting against the desegregation of schools really put things into perspective for me. As we know with the issue of exam schools and the ISEE, clearly the issues of race in education still persists.


I believe that the new admissions process being based on GPA and zip code is a step in the right direction, but it is far from perfect. By basing it off on mostly grades, there is indeed an increased chance of black, Latinx, and those from lower-income families to get into one of the exam schools, but there is still a disproportionate amount of white and Asian American students who are the top students in the school compared to black or Latinx students. It also does not acknowledge or fix the real issue that occurs within the school system as a whole. Like @lavagirl says, the issue is not just with Boston Latin School or exam schools in general, the issue starts with BPS and how they promote certain groups of people over others. In my old school, there was also an AWC (Advanced Work Class) class where the students who got the best grades in 3rd grade got put into this class where the curriculum is harder and more “advanced”, while students who did not do so well got put into the “regular” class. This separation of classes began in 4th grade and continued on until 6th grade, and there was a clear divide between the two classes. Those in the AWC class were considered hard-working students who were able to challenge themselves, while those in the regular class were considered stupid and didn’t care about school. Those who were in the regular class consisted entirely of Latinx and black students, and none of them took the ISEE because they did not know that it existed nor had the knowledge to even do well on the test because their curriculum did not encompass the materials covered on the test. Meanwhile, the majority of the students in the AWC class who did get into one of the exam schools were white or Asian American, with only 3 of the 10 black or Latinx students in the class making it in. This is probably because the white and Asian American students were able to afford or had the knowledge of outside tutoring programs designed to prep for the ISEE. I feel like the real issue here is the fact that in order to get into the exam schools, you needed to have knowledge of concepts that were not even taught in the curriculums at school. If having a test is a necessary way of testing the abilities of students, then changing the test to fit the curriculum that students were actually taught in school would be a good way to change things to be more equitable, or even changing the curriculum itself so that all students are learning the same thing regardless of where they stand.


In terms of Boston Latin School itself, I feel like this year has been a good first step in making our school a more inclusive and equitable place with the homeroom discussions about race, but obviously not enough. The curriculum here itself focuses on eurocentric views with little to no coverage on other groups of people, which is why I think Facing is such an important class. I feel like if there could be more classes like Facing or if the stuff that is taught can shift to include other perspectives, especially from people of color, students will be able to have a broader understanding of race and therefore have less bias. I hope that in the future, we will continue to take steps that will enable us to change for the better and provide a good education for everyone and not just certain groups of people. As well as to include the voices of those who are usually left unheard.

Junior
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 8

Why Do People Believe That BIPOC Are Inferior?

Most people don't, is the answer. But they believe a number of things that effectually equate to that belief.

Consider conclusion A, B and C. Conclusion A is that students at exam schools deserve to be at those schools. Conclusion B is that students who go to exam schools are more likely to be successful. Conclusion C is that according to trends that show that black and latinx are less likely to go to exam schools, and so therefore are less likely to be deserving of success. Conclusion C is definitely wrong, but is a logical progression of conclusion A and B. But if conclusion C is wrong, then there must be a skip in logic that is occurring. Between A and B, the most divorced from evidence is conclusion A, there is no data suggesting that students at exam schools deserve to be at those schools. There is no way of measuring that, there is no way of knowing empirically that someone deserves something.

So why is the system built around the idea that the exam is an empirical truth? If the exam is right and the system is right, that means that black and latinx people are inferior intellectually. This is markedly untrue, and anyone who would argue that has a warped sense of reality, logic, ethics and humanity.

Why does it matter what someone truly believes though? Because it seems to be that Conclusion C and Conclusion A have the same effect, one is just a lot more palatable.

Heyo8
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 12

It's a Band-Aid on a Gunshot Wound

I will admit I had a faint idea of racism at Boston Latin School and in its history. I am now fully aware of it and I think everyone else should be. We should know the history of our school and consciously make steps to become better. This issue with the admissions process and what they’re deciding to do has the right idea and the right intentions but definitely is far from fulfilling hope for a fair school admissions process.

I personally will be frank and admit that I am extremely biased because I worked so hard to prepare for the ISEE, worked hard in school, and took every advantage I got. I am constantly reminded even today, that I must work hard in everything I do because nothing will ever be given to me so I competed with others and worked hard, if not harder than others with my parents’ insistence. I did take paid tutoring classes, but not strictly ISEE prep. Now you can say that not everyone gets the extra schooling, and yes, that is most definitely true, but in the end, I shouldn’t be penalized for it by being refused admission because I wasn’t good enough in my academic category compared to my zip code but in another I would’ve been more than enough. There are more factors that go into this such as redlining and racial wealth inequality, but the bottom line is that is not fair to the child who will face this issue. The issue does not lie in the testing to get into this prestigious high school. What angers me the most is the assumption by many,on social media, who did not get into this school, assuming that all the people who opposed this decision to go based on GPA and Zip Code, didn't want more Black and Hispanic students in Boston Latin School. I cannot speak for everyone but personally that is not the reason I oppose the idea. I oppose it because I worked my tail off, many nights up late studying, being pushed by my parents, to get into this school. I earned my way in with good grades and a decent test score. It isn’t fair to someone who does the same thing, if not more, and is good enough, but fails solely because of where they live. In my opinion that is beyond unfair.

The root of the problem isn’t in Boston Latin School. It is in the funding many communities get. Schools with struggling students should get more funding. We must help those communities. Get more funding for programs to help them. Shift funding. We have to level the playing field, not by taking more opportunities from others but creating more for ones who don’t have any. We also cannot just throw these kids into a rigorous school like Boston Latin School and expect the problem to be fixed. If the education is as disproportionate as they claim then we cannot just take the top performers from the schools in those communities and just throw them into Boston Latin School’s curriculum and expect results and problems to be solved. It won’t work. They won’t be prepared if their school was worse than others. We must think about the bigger picture. It's not Boston Latin School, its Boston as a whole.

Looking deeper into this, we see that racism has dug itself into the roots of the Boston community. We have so much to fix. We must help communities in need. We cannot say that a group of people aren’t working hard enough until we can judge fairly. We must level the playing field. Help those schools in those communities. It's a larger problem than admissions, it's a problem with Boston’s education system as a whole. The admissions process into these three exam schools just reflects it.

berry
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 11

Still so much more that needs to be done

Friday’s class was really eye-opening for me because I barely knew anything about BLS’s history with race. I always knew Boston had a racist past from just hearing people talk about it. I got to know more about it through doing a project on educational segregation in Boston. Researching and learning about what POC had to go through to just get a better education is really heartbreaking. It’s really ironic that Boston seems progressive now, but racism is still common today.

Boston Latin School should continue going into the direction it is now with the new admissions policy. I would like to see how much the race percentages change at BLS from 2020-2021 to 2021-2020. But like what @lavagirl and @dewdropdoll are saying, this issue stems from BPS’s problems as a whole. Although what BLS is doing is a step in the right direction, we should be improving all of Boston Public Schools, not just Boston Latin. Testing in general will always be unfair because those who can afford expensive test prep and a tutor will obviously do better than those who can’t. I find testing useless because, as some mentioned in class on friday, schools don’t teach what is actually on the test. So kids who don’t have any tutoring or test prep haven’t even learned the topics on the test. It’s just not fair. I like how it’s called in the “There’s something wrong with the exam school tests -- not with Black and Latinx children” by Ibram X. Kendi, “legal cheating”. The article also mentions how most test prep companies are in White and Asian neighborhoods… We desperately need to have equal opportunities for everyone or problems like these will never change.

Funding is also another big issue, schools that are already well funded and aren’t struggling get way more funding than schools that are. Why should a high-performance school get more funding than a low-performance school. Enough funding already went into these top schools, we should focus on the schools in which kids are struggling, partially due to the lack of funding. There’s so much that needs to be done in order to improve the education system in not just Boston, but everywhere. A good way to have started was getting rid of the exam school test and focus just on GPA and zip codes. However, there are still problems with BPS in terms of funding, school curriculums, and more. I hope that BLS changing the admissions policy will be a catalyst for this type of change in BPS.

UnrecognizableUsername
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

Is there a perfect system?

Before I start off my reply, I’d just like to say I’m going to try to remain neutral and understanding of both sides in a respectful way. Being a black male in a very racist city and being admitted to Boston Latin is a blessing. Many would kill to have their kids admitted to such a prestigious school. Granted at the time I was admitted I didn’t know how much problems regarding race had on the school. We all know BLS isn’t the most anti-racist school, with situations regarding racism coming left and right, it’s no suprise there is a huge demographic problem at BLS. The reason I believe BLS’ demographics are dominant against black/latinax students is because most of black/latinax students in Boston come from low income families that do not have the capital ability to get their children extra test prep, or tutoring. I can’t sit here and say it’s illegal to get your kid test prep or tutoring but those that do have to accept the fact that their child has a higher chance of acceptance not because their kid is smarter than another, but because you had the ability to give your child a “running start” because you have the capital to do so, when another family might not. At the same time though, I feel like those who have demonstrated hard work, and excellent grades do have the right to be at the top of the list to be admitted, but again which of these students received extra help? There is no denying that the white/asian population dominates the black/latinax population at BLS, and the answer to this is simple. Most of the black/latinax population are from low income families who do not have the ability to get them extra help unlike most of the White/Asian population at BLS. In terms of admissions, I feel like no matter how you do it, someone will lose. Take the situation in New York, where a lottery is proposed for admissions, but Asian Americans believe that they are being discriminated against. Take the situation in our own city, Boston, very racist city, with a very racist mindset. Impose a set percent of how many students per race can be at a certain school, there is going to be a protest against it. Continue the current system and black/latinax will feel discriminated against. It’s a really hard situation, and sometimes I wish that race wasn’t even a thing, you get into an exam school because you showed effort through grades and work ethic. In terms of admissions I don’t see a “perfect” system that will have everyone happy, someone/some group will lose. In terms of the future, I think the coming school year will be a good representation for Boston Public Schools. No exam tests will eliminate the advantage those of high income families have (test prep/tutoring), and have a fair playing field for all communities/races in Boston.
fignewton11
Boston, MA
Posts: 13

An Anti-Racist Present Cannot Exist Without Acknowledging A Racist Past

I think granted the circumstances of COVID, the exam schools made the right decision to get rid of the test this year. With a pandemic that has disparately impacted communities of color and a switch to virtual learning that left many BPS students struggling to receive an adequate education, I do not think administering the test this year could have been equitable. However, with the removal of the test this year, many are wondering if we will ever see an exam school test again. Many, including the proposal committee, have proposed an admissions system based on students’ GPAs. In Chester Finn’s article, “A Progressive Assault on Selective High Schools,” he asks “Are all children who make good grades eager, motivated learners ready to make the most of what these high-powered schools have to offer?” In asking this, I don’t understand how he does not also ask “are all children who do well on standardized tests eager learners?” Wealthy parents can afford to place their child in tutoring for these exams, but this does not make these students eager learners at all. In fact, I think there are many students at BLS who are products of this exact scenario. I think the solution the board came up with this year is a short-term solution to a larger problem the Boston Public Schools have. This year’s solution takes a step in the right direction to make BLS a more diverse community with equal opportunities given to Black and brown students. This, however, does not change the fact that only so many students can be admitted to these schools. Black and brown students (and presumably more white students than previously) will still be denied admission to these schools. While wealthy, white students can afford to go to private preparatory schools, low-income students will still be sent to Boston’s other public high schools: West Roxbury High, Brighton High, Charlestown High, etc. It is irrefutable that these schools do not offer the same educational opportunities that the exam schools do, or in Ibram X Kendi’s words, “opportunity schools.” While Boston Latin School is taking a step in the right direction to make admission more equitable, I think Boston Public Schools needs to improve the education of all the other public schools. The solution created this year for COVID is imperfect, but I think its central ideas should be carried forward even after COVID’s end. The exam school’s solution, however, does not solve the inadequacies in the Boston Public School system that will likely still disproportionately affect low-income and BIPOC students.

When BLS’s “racist past” is referred to, or even its racist present, I often think of the BlackatBLS movement and its aftermath. As our school community strives to become antiracist, I question why certain aspects of Boston Latin School’s racist past don’t seem to be addressed. I think a large portion of the school community, particularly students, is unaware of BLS ever having an affiliation with slavery. I think if Boston Latin School wants to become an antiracist community, this is not a part of our history that we can ignore. We cannot plaster the names of famous white graduates atop our auditorium and shove this part of our history under the rug. This sort of information should not be kept a secret, unintentionally or not, from the school community. I think in some way, the administration should address this at some point, or at least make information available if students so choose to pursue it.

Boston Latin School is taking steps towards an antiracist future with the new exam school policies. I think this conversation needs to continue and our school must focus on representing the city’s racial makeup proportionately. However, I do not think an antiracist future can exist without acknowledging the entire of our school’s racist past, no matter how long ago it was.

gibby
Posts: 14

BLS and its history with inequality

After Friday's presentation, I think many of realized the extent to which BLS struggles with issues with racism and inequality. This is no new problem; these problems have existed for as long as BLS has been around. BLS is not at all representative of BPS as a school system, and as many of us now know, the process by which kids get into BLS makes it so that many minorities and people of color are at a disadvantage. The ISEE, the previous that was taken to get into BLS, required tutoring, which meant that unless 1) you could afford tutoring or 2) there was access to free tutoring, you most likely would not do well on the test.

These problems being recognized, I think we can all agree that the exam school admissions process needs reform. But in what form should this be? I think that there should be some sort of assessment, maybe contrary to popular belief, but I think that the exam should only include material that is taught directly in the BPS curriculum. The students should not be tested on anything outside what they have learned in school, so that the test measures only academic ability and not a student's access to tutoring. A student's grades should also factor into account. To be completely honest, I don't know if this would be enough to combat the inequality that has been happening for centuries at BLS. There may need to be further measures.

In terms of BLS itself, I think that our community and curriculum could definitely improve. I've found the history programs at BLS to be generally Eurocentric and have a deterministic view of history that is not at all inclusive. We can start here. Although many of the history class are taught based on an AP curriculum, it is still ultimately up to the teachers how they teach the class, and changing the history curriculum to be more accurate is a good start.

In terms of the future, BLS needs to change. There is no other way to put it. This will not be an overnight process; many of things that need to be changed at BLS are so deep-rooted that they will take time to change. As long as we take continuous steps to combat the racism and inequality that has been built into BLS and the exam school system for so long, we will begin to improve.

SwedishFish
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 17

High-Quality Opportunity

I vividly remember when I was accepted into Boston Latin School it was the year that the issues of racism at Boston Latin School was gaining media attention. My 6th grade math teacher congratulated me but said, “Be careful with everything going on there”. This frightened me. I was unsure if Boston Latin School was the right place for me, especially if they systematically didn’t like me because I was a person of color. I have learned through my experiences at BLS that my teacher was right. And these issues go beyond the school itself, rather the system has failed so many black and hispanic students from the beginning. The standardized testing systems have limited the amount black and hispanic students admitted into BLS drastically. As stated in the article There’s something wrong with the exam school tests — not with Black and Latinx Children by Ibram X Kendi, “I won’t tell you that across the United States test prep companies and consultants are concentrated in white and Asian neighborhoods” shows how disadvantaged black and Latinx students are in terms of testing prep. The author also states that, “The children who have the least in their homes often have the least in their schools — an ongoing crime that you have the power to begin to change” meaning that those who grow up in “lower” class areas are less likely to have the opportunity to be admitted into BLS. This relates to redlining and other racially restrictive methods of residency across Boston that we learned about earlier this week. Which goes to show that this is also a systemic problem. I think that after the hearing in October of 2020, with the proposal to have admissions categorized by zip code and gpa is a step in the right direction. I think that this will prioritize those children who grew up in areas that have “the least in their homes”. In terms of what we learn here, I think that Ian made a great point in class on Friday. They mentioned how teaching traditional Latin curriculums implements elitism and classism throughout the entire foundation of our school. You hear “Sumus Primi” and see it on the top of our water bottles for incoming sixies. The phrase, as much as administration would like to make it more “welcoming” is entirely elitist. I think that the Latin curriculum can still be taught but not as enforced. I also think that there should be more classes like Facing History that are available to students who are not Juniors and Seniors, as in only 3 months of taking this course I have learned so much about racism and other important issues that we must change within our school. The future of BLS seems to be headed in a more “high-quality opportunity based school rather than a high- quality school” which is a step in the right direction. We must continue to be aware of these issues, it doesn’t stop here.
plaidplatypus
Boston, Ma, US
Posts: 11

Privilege in the Admissions System

I think a change is definitely required to make the exam schools better represent the population of school children in Boston. Last year for my income inequality project I focused on the exam schools and ended up coming up with something pretty similar to the admissions process for this year, although I thought it should be based around public schools not zip codes, but zip codes still give more opportunity than the old system.

As I see it one of the biggest sources of inequality, which is often left out of the conversation, is how advantaged kids who go to private schools are while applying for BLS. The ISEE stands for independent schools entrance exam, and was made for admissions to private schools rather than for public schools admissions. Before BLS I went to a private school and in the end of 5th grade and beginning of 6th grade the whole curriculum was centered around making sure we knew everything we needed to know for the ISSE. Almost all the kids at my school who lived in Boston got into BLS and went to private schools, taking away seats at BLS from kids who actually would have used them. For most of the kids who go to private schools in Boston, applying to BLS just requires checking a box since they already take the ISEE, and a lot of them have no intention of going to BLS unless all the private schools they want to go to don’t accept them. They take seats away from lower income students, who could benefit greatly from the opportunity.

As BLS is a public school, which is supposed to offer opportunities for the students of Boston, most of whom are public school students. In the past, the admissions process has been based on a test which covers material a majority of public schools don’t teach, and as a result students who go to public schools are less likely to get into the most elite public schools in the city. Instead of the system we currently have, I think the admissions system should give an advantage to public school students. Personally I think the best admissions policy would be to reserve spots at exam schools for the to x% of students at each of Boston's public schools, which would in turn create greater diversity and give more lower income students a chance to go to BLS.

As for the curriculum at BLS I think that we should focus more on the history of race at BLS and the city of Boston as a whole. The discussions on race in homeroom this year are a step in the right direction, but for it to be impactful we need to continue with it after Covid and bring some of the discussion into the classroom.

SleezMoth
boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 12

Amendments

Boston Latin school is at its core a school of the classics, and therefore at its core a conservative school. Exam schools in Boston are disproportionally geared towards letting white children from rich neighborhoods in, an issue that has persisted since BLS let other groups besides white men in a couple decades ago. The issue now is testing. Richer families are able to acquire tutoring for their kid that is taking the exam putting them at a much higher chance of getting into the school.

A solution to this issue is to require that tutoring services be cheaper or even free and funded by the state as an organization separate to schools. This solution would even the playing field and allow students to get relatively equal preparation towards testing, and may even help them later in school as well. This solution incorporating the tutoring system as a separate educational institution, aside form the school system, and not have funding based on neighborhoods or what the schools the students go to teach would assist with the issue of quality of education in elementary school. Though more gradual the hope would also be this new tutoring institution would raise the quality of education of lower funded schools in the district because the tutors would be helping each student from different schools on the same level based on their grade, requiring the teacher to have taught them the subject.

On the issue of what we learn in BLS i believe that facing history should be similar to humanities in that it is a requirement early on at BLS, and then becomes an elective for your junior or senior year that would go more in depth on the issues at hand. I believe that this would have a positive outcome very quickly because the kids would learn from a younger age, where their minds are more open to change, about many truths in the world. I find that me and my friends were unintentionally but intensely ignorant to what had happened in the world we lived in. Additionally to the improved education at a younger age, if students decide to take Facing History and Ourselves as an elective junior and senior year they would go even further in depth than we in our class can go now.

mellifluously
Allston, MA, US
Posts: 18

Nobody's stupid. Just level the playing field.

Since I started as a sixie the year #BlackAtBLS blew up, I remember somewhat well what occurred and the background behind the events. Of course, I did not know everything (i.e. the students, the teachers that were involved, etc.). I do remember the day when Dr. Mooney Teta and Mr. Flynn resigned from BLS administrative positions. We all saw it coming (not so much from Mr. Flynn), especially due to how the media was casting a shadow of inaction by Dr. Mooney Teta (i.e. depicting her as someone who would sit in her offic, on her high chair, idling away as the school’s racial climate worsened). Sadly enough, though, racist ideals still continue to this day, such as when our section had to deal with anti-Semetic comments in a Padlet, or the Zoom-bombing of Brice Kapel’s concert during BLS’ International Week. I am not saying that BLS students are inherently racist. However, most people do maintain racist ideals and decide to make it present in our environment, not only impacting the people they are attacking, but everyone else in the school.


Now, based on this history, we need to ask: will increasing the diversity decrease the racism? Probably not, as many types of racism (including internalized) exist, but that is a different debate for another time. But let us look at the idea of diversity. How does that come about? Through various criteria set by the school district, the infamous Boston Public Schools. Their implementation of the ISEE and using a GPA as well as quotas have ultimately determined how many students of various races should attend the school. Additionally, they even have Mr. Lane doing attendance while keeping in mind the races and ethnicities of those who attend and do not attend school. While a new bit of information for me, it is not shocking.


However, let me go back. Upon reading the three articles provided based on how the admissions process should (or should not) change for exam schools, such as our own, I ultimately agree the most with Dr. Finn’s article. Unless we begin change earlier, nothing will change that much.


Think about it this way: we abolish the exam. Students are admitted to these exam schools based on grades and location alone. Various things will occur. First, most of these grades, as Dr. Finn mentioned, could easily be inflated because of teachers wanting certain students to attend these schools. Yes, we want to increase diversity, but if they do not get the appropriate education that they need to support them in these schools, then they will not survive. Most BLS teachers are not as compassionate and do not slow down for anyone. If these less affluent families of color could not afford tutoring for the exam, how will they afford tutoring for more difficult courses? I doubt that BLS will lighten their course/workload.


If school districts give people who do not have the opportunities that privileged, caucasian people have, such as access to preschool or elementary school with teachers that care about their education and them learning the necessary things to succeed in places such as BLS, then they will be more prepared. However, not only with that, more tutoring opportunities should be given to further improve people’s chances. By that, we can better level the playing field. And by that, we can increase the diversity with people who ARE indeed prepared for these kinds of schools. These people—people of color with less resources—are not stupid, as most people like to call them. They have less privilege and access to the things that make people “smart.” Give them the resources, and they will be as smart as those that had the resources to begin with. Again, level the playing field.


So that I do not drone on with more and more information and writing, let me discuss the last two questions:


Courses? If we purely ignore STEM courses and focus on humanities alone, we can easily make them more diverse. BLS is already going a step in the right direction with their African American Studies course. However, it needs to be expanded more. One year cannot teach everything. And we cannot focus only on one race. Other races, although they have not suffered at that same level throughout history, still deserve some form of recognition. Asian American Studies would be a good course to add, for example. We need these courses because if you were to look at Alan Brinkley’s The Unfinished Nation, the APUSH/US2 textbook, it tends to focus on a more Eurocentric view, focusing more on caucasian culture and how they dealt with hardships and how they did everything. It still mentions how slaves were present in the US, or how Asian Americans built most of the railroads we have today, but it is not enough. Courses such as those that I have mentioned would help ameliorate that lack of knowledge presented in such US history based courses or textbooks.


Finally, if we look at the future, based on what I have mentioned: it will take a while for BLS and other exam schools to become more diverse based on the aforementioned ideologies. Nonetheless, that change will be felt eventually, and BLS and other exam schools can become more diverse.

therapeuticsoup
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 8

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks?

Right off the bat, I think it’s so important to mention how 85 % percent of all BPS is POC while only less than 35 % of BLS is POC. Throughout BPS, it’s about 14 % white, and BLS in 2020/2021 accepted 44 % white. Personally, as a white person, I had many advantages when applying to BLS. I had a tutor specifically for the ISEE, and I remember my family had connected with people who had either taken the ISEE or could help me get in. I worked very very hard to get into BLS, I had many late nights, worked every day for hours, and put my full effort into getting a spot. My parents put lots of pressure on me, as well as my teachers, which I’m very thankful for. But a part of me truly believes that if I hadn’t been surrounded by such a supportive community and had the opportunity to have a tutor, I wouldn’t be at BLS right now, in this class. It’s a sad fact that so many kids have the potential to get into any of the exam schools but don’t have the right resources because of where they live and the connections they have, which all mainly have to do with race. As I mentioned in the beginning, POCs statistically have less of an advantage of getting into BLS due to systematic racism. This includes redlining, income, employment, and home owning.

First off, all schools in BPS should provide students with details about the ISEE and applying for exam schools. Many kids don’t end out applying because they never end out learning what the ISEE is. Secondly, free tutoring should be offered at schools with little funding for families who may not be able to afford it because of income or employment. As for BLS, more awareness on these topics should be raised. If I hadn’t taken this class, I probably would have gone throughout my life at BLS thinking the system was fine. More eyes need to be opened to the corruption of BPS. I don’t want to blame the whole problem on BLS, but the curriculum at BLS is very Eurocentric based. It’s a classics school, and so learning about issues like these isn’t required. It definitely should be. Changing the BLS curriculum will definitely be difficult because of its older way of teaching, but I think that with time change will come, for the better.

slothman
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 12

It's a marathon, not a sprint

The presentation that was given during Facing History came as a surprise to me, as I was not aware of several of the statistics and facts brought up. I never knew about the racism that took place in the history of BLS, and though it is not as vulgar and disturbing then as it is now, we are still a long way away. I think it is wrong that I didn't know about the prior racism that took place in BLS, and I think that is something that the majority of the BLS people should know, as it is important history.

As it what should happen to BLS and what it should do, I think the issue is not just in the school itself and its community, but also in the Boston Public Schools system itself. For example, there are several problems with the school entrance exam, the ISEE. In my prior school, which was a wealthy private school in the Back Bay, several resources were given to us. We had a private teacher during all of 6th grade who helped us study for the ISEE, and out of about 20 6th graders that year, about 17 of us were in this class. All of the kids were either white or asian, there were no POC in our grade, and about 2 in the school of 200 kids. With all of those benefits given to us, we all did pretty successfully when it came to the test thanks to our aid throughout the year. I was lucky to be put into this situation, and I know large amounts of kids didn't have this same opportunity. As other people wrote in this section, most kids who got help were white, and POC didn't bother with the help or couldn't afford it, or if they did end up taking the exam, they would do poorly on account of the lack of preparation. This inevitably leads to the large amount of white and asian students enrolled into BLS and lack of POC.

Even if one gets into BLS, that's half the battle, you still have to endure the 6 years of work and stress along the way, BLS isn't easy, it was made not to be. I do agree that more POC should be admitted to BLS, but only if they deserve the place. You can't ignore the fact that BLS is still an exam school, you need a certain amount of intellect to attend the school. Some may be upset at that statement, but the fact is, if you don't have that level of intellect, you will have a miserable time at this school, and will most likely end up leaving. I like the rigorous curriculum BLS gives because of the advantages it will give you for your future, and I think it should continue to do so, even though arguments can be made of things in this school that can be "toned down"

With the changing world, I believe BLS will change to adapt to that, but will primarily stick to the old methods of education. They will do this because that is one of the staples of this school. In regards to the entrance exam, it should become much more accesible for everyone in lower schools, everyone should have the same oppurtunity, regardless of if they will do good or bad on it. Lastly, all BPS elemetary schools should have the same benefits and money given to them, regardless of the location and demographic of the people of the school.

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