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.