posts 16 - 30 of 32
graphicmango
Posts: 24

Moving Toward Equity at a PWI?

“What do you think should happen at Boston Latin School?” While that’s a loaded question, I do believe there are many places that we can improve.


Starting with admissions, I believe that the new upcoming system is a small step in the right direction. As we discussed (far too briefly) in the Zoom chat section, entrance exams are not suited to selecting the smartest or most capable students but rather those who were given the most opportunity to prepare, an idea that Alvin Chang’s article “The Fraught Racial Politics of Entrance Exams for Elite High Schools” also notes. He writes that “…it [the entrance tests] measure[s] who has the resources to prep for this test. Schoolwork isn’t enough to prepare you”, an issue also discussed in our Zoom chat. I remember specifically someone commenting that the MCAS tests content that isn’t even taught.


I think a more holistic system should be created, perhaps taking into account factors such as applicants’ grades, course load relative to their school’s curriculum, and activities outside of the classroom. Overall, much more like the structure of college admissions, which is rather appropriate considering that other historically PWI (primarily white institutions) like Harvard College and the other Ivy League colleges are dropping standardized testing requirements altogether for the same reasons that our policies are changing. On the other hand, if the exam school admissions test is kept, there needs to be a way to level the playing field. This would entail creating an exam that isn’t (as) “studyable” and making sure that all BPS students are given the same opportunity to take it. As many people suggested, mandating that all 6th and 8th-grade BPS students take the exams in their schools at a set time (maybe during a normal school day) would ensure that there would be no transportation barriers or any chance that students wouldn’t be aware of the opportunity.


As for curriculum, it’s important to continue incorporating antiracist teachings into either liberal arts classes or periods like extended homeroom or W Block (or both!). I think it’s also worth having more sit-ins from affinity groups. BLS BLACK, MESA, ASIA, TAG, ASA, and PRIMA (and I’m sure there are so many more that I’ve missed) are all great clubs that are focused on creating a community for BIPOC students at BLS who could teach cultural awareness and workshop education on racism and xenophobia on their respective communities. I really enjoyed BLS TAG’s presentation series for National Hispanic Heritage Month and would love to see a similar vein of activities for all the other clubs I listed. Additionally, teaching the history of BLS and racism is paramount. Change starts at home and I think many BLS students, regardless of race or ethnicity, are not aware of BLS's anti-Black past. I know I had very little idea of anything prior to 2016's exposure of racism and the creation of the Black at BLS hashtag, up until class on Friday.


Finally, “the future” is very vague and I’m not entirely sure how to answer that question. I think that my thoughts on additions to the curriculum also encompass the future of BLS, but I don’t have any solid stance on what a post-exam “elite high school” admissions process should look like. I hope that regardless of how the system is reformed, it is fair, equitable, and holistic to all applicants, regardless of class, race, ethnicity, and (dis)ability.

graphicmango
Posts: 24

Reply to mellifluously

Originally posted by mellifluously on December 06, 2020 18:23

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.

I wanted to start off by saying that I love the title of your discussion post. Leveling the playing field, whatever that might entail, is the true way to ensure equity. No one group of people is inherently smarter than or superior to any other: this train of thought was created by eugenicists and racists and used to create racial divides. Thus the reason that the vast majority of students in "elite" high schools are White and Asian is because these two populations, for the most part, are more likely to have the time, money, and resources to provide their children with a good elementary school education, exam tutoring, and other educational supports. By ensuring that these three key factors are either unneeded (exam tutoring) or universally accessible (a good elementary school education and other educational supports), racial and ethnic diversity will come naturally to exam schools and racial quotas will be unnecessary. Racial quotas, however controversial, are a good way to start though. My greatest (and perhaps overly positive) hope is that the opportunities afforded to underprivileged BIPOC BPS students following this new system will help break generational cycles of poverty and increase the number of first-generation college students, creating something akin to a trickle-down for subsequent generations to succeed in this nation that is so stacked against them.

softballgirl18
Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 21

a step in the right direction

After hearing about everything that has happened in the history of BPS and BLS, and how people have worked to make the issues better, I think there are still some large issues at hand. I think that getting rid of the ISEE testing and making it more fair for everyone when it comes to applying to and attending exam schools is a fantastic idea and will make our school more diverse over the years, but I do not think that will not fix the issues at hand for a while considering it was only put into effect this upcoming testing season. It is going to take several years for BLS to become more diverse and equal, but we are definitely heading the right way.

Chameleon23
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 21

Boston Latin School and Race

The discussions we had in class about the history of racism in Boston, and in Boston's education system were shocking, and eye opening. With the state of the country that we live in, it is hard to ignore the prevalence of racism and discrimination in our society, but its easy to distance ourselves from it. While there have been changes, and efforts to reduce the impacts of racism, it is still a major issue, especially in the educational system. Boston Latin School is a part of the problem because of the disproportionate racial makeup of its student body. This issue is in part caused by the admissions process for getting into exam schools such as Boston Latin, but it is largely caused by the discrepancy in the quality of education, and preparation for admissions tests amongst elementary schools. Students who attend elementary schools with less funding, or that offer less support, are less likely to build a solid foundation to continue on with their education. They are also significantly less likely to do well on admissions tests because they are not as prepared. Kids from wealthier families can afford things such as tutors, which can give them a direct advantage over those who cannot access such services. In order to combat this issue, there needs to be major changes to the admissions process for schools such as Boston Latin. However, there is no clear solution. Basing the admissions process solely on gpa is unfair because many people do not have access to the same quality of education as others. On the other hand, if admissions are based on neighborhoods, with a certain number of seats being allocated to each area, there inevitably will be those who protest it. Those people will most likely be parents of privileged children who believe that since their child got a better grade in a school that gave them a better change, their child has more of a right to go to a high quality school. However, part of the issue is that many people like this hold positions of power or influence, or are extremely vocal, when it comes to making decisions about the future of the education system.

In terms of what should be learned in Boston Latin School, there are also changes that need to be made. It is important that everyone understand the history of this school. Many people live in denial of the racial tensions that exist in Boston, and how it connects to the past of the city. By educating students on the severity of the issue, it will inspire more people to advocate for change, and change is what we need in order to make a more equal and supportive environment for education.

blueslothbear
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 21

A One Time Solution

In regards to admission, I think that BLS should keep this new format of admitting sixies. The ISEE is a racist test. The creators of it said that. Continuing to use it to judge entry into our school is racist. I don't think it is a hot take when I say that racism is bad, and should be stopped. Therefore, we should stop using the ISEE. This new format is better, I think. First of all, it is based on last year's grades, so the applicants could not have possibly forseen those grades as the ones being used for entry, and the schools that tend to artificially inflate their grades (yes, some schools do that) are less likely to inflate the grades that were not used for admittance. This alone helps tilt the playing field back to balanced. The other good part about this new mode is how it picks students. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a lottery. It is rather a pool of qualified applicants assigned in reverse order based on the average income of their zip codes. It basically picks students in reverse order based on their economic privalege to get them into BLS.


In terms of curriculum, I think BLS should require both Facing History and Afro as a part of the curriculum, just because they are such important classes to take. There should also an emphasis on non-Eurasian history too, simply because we should not just focus on 2/5 of the world. Also, we should stop putting so much emphasis on A.P. Classes. They tend to be less accessable for poorer people, because poorer schools are unable to offer them.

In terms of the future, I do not think that we should use this process again. It worked once as a suprise, but it is too easy to be gamed. We need to find a better way to test students. There supposedly is a new test coming that is better than the current one, but it still could be cheated. My suggestion is using the new test and still implementing the admission based on zip code, just to make it more fair.


P.S. Attached is my superstar of that long night of watching them discuss the new system: Timer Cat!



cabbage
Boston , MA, US
Posts: 18

There needs to be given more attention to education in lower income communities

I went to a heavily hispanic populated middle school so when eighth grade strolled around and it was time to talk about high school most of the kids just assumed they would go to the high school continuation of our middle school. They did not know that there were other high schools that offered a different experience. Four kids in my grade ended up going to exam schools, but I remember finding out about exam schools through my friends, not the school. Nowhere in my neighborhood was there any mention of exam schools. There isn’t enough awareness given to lower income neighborhoods about bigger opportunities.


After years of being around people who looked like me, it was a surprise to only see white people at BLS. I hadn’t even thought about the demographic being different. It quickly made me feel alone, however it made making friendships with people who were like me better.


I definitely think there should be changes at BLS regarding how kids are let in because like everyone else mentioned not everyone can afford a tutor or a good quality school. This brings a wider issue into question that BPL as a whole should be giving schools in low income neighborhoods the same amount of resources and qualified teachers as other schools.

yeahhokay
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

So much work needs to be done

Learning about the racism that is deep rooted in our ISEE exams and enrollment was something I wasn’t too educated or informed about until this class. That the exam school tests aren’t necessarily fair and equal at all but based on the access of resources that you have around you. As well as this isn’t a new issue that has started recently but it has been the beginning of time of BLS.


I was enrolled in a BPS my entire life and when I took the exam I can say very little or almost none of the things I was being tested on was knowledge and information that I learned in school. I had an advantage as my parents made me see an outside tutor and 5th and the beginning of 6th grade in order for me to do well on the test. Although there is nothing wrong with getting tutoring in preparation it is not fair to the children whose parents don’t have the same opportunity to put their kids into tutoring to do well on the exam or have access to the things that I did.


As much as the entire BPS system should be rewired where every school gives the same opportunity and the same level of education, it is unrealistic for this to happen entirely just based on how big the district is and the amount of funding. We need to change the test and the BPS curriculum entirely in order to make sure that every child gets an equal chance to get into an exam school. The diversity is not anywhere close to where it should be at all. I think that the admissions process this year is something that needed to be done for a long time and it has the right idea and I hope that this fully works considering the corona virus situation.


I personally do not think we should abolish a test completely for the administration. I think that everything that is presented on the test is only material that would be taught in a BPS curriculum as the exam schools are Boston Public Schools as it only makes sense and that free extra help is provided to any child in need at any public school. As well as that every student takes the test in school which is what they were planning. This will not solve the diversity issues that are at BLS but I think it could have improvements. A lot would still need to take place and work to be done to make sure that it is fully equal and genuinely fair.


Overall depending on how things are going to be this year I think it will change the whole way of administration into the exam schools. And should be a step in a better direction and improvement.

Fireheart
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15

Change At Last

I think that all students should learn about the history of their school. It's not something that I ever really thought about, but I now realize that it's something that has affected what my school is today. I'm not really surprised by the racial makeup of Boston Latin School. Anybody who walks the halls of this school can see the disparity. The data also doesn't hide much. The problem, however, lies in admissions policies and decisions, as Ibram Kendi argues in his article “There’s Something wrong with the Exam School Tests--Not with Black and Latinx Children.” Not all students have the same access to test prep or even tutors to take the ISEE.


I agree with @dewdropdoll because the only reason why I even knew BLS existed was because of this comment my older cousin made in passing once. I'd never even heard of exam schools before and I'd only been living in Boston for about 6 months by then. I also had a teacher at the end of 7th grade who really advocated for me and who recognized that I was a hardworking, high-achieving student so he was able to get me an ISEE test prep book for the summer. To be honest I probably only did a page’s worth of practice problems, but I know it's a lot more than a lot of other students get.


I think that, if we do happen to keep the ISEE as it is, we could make some changes so that students can have more opportunities to be prepared. For example, each exam school can have a group of students who would serve as tutors to students preparing to take the exam. The tutoring could also serve as volunteer hours to entice student involvement. A couple of students would be stationed somewhere near there home– a community center or public library– and for a couple hours on certain days of the week, they could help students get into the school that they go to. The best thing here is that students would be getting advice from other students who went through the same process and who succeeded. It also helps to create a more connected community and student body.


This is just one example of a change that could be made and even though it’s not fool-proof, it’s at least something. There is so much that can be done. I learned some dark things about Boston’s history this past week. Although it was really shocking and disappointing, I think that there are many people who want to move away from that, and make this city what we want it to be. It’s nice to see that we are finally having these conversations because they are necessary for our development and progression as a people.

UnKnown
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 20

Change in the Education System

Over the past few weeks, I’ve learned a lot about the racism in this city and the racism in our education system that I barely knew about. Although I do believe we are going in the right direction and we are starting to solve the issue, there is still much more to do. In terms of admissions I believe the education system needs to focus on providing proper education to disadvantaged students so that they may have an equal or better chance to advantaged students. Many of the disadvantaged students do not have access to tutoring, test-prep courses, or a good education which is why they routinely get lower scores. We need to give them the resources to build a good foundation so that they can build off of that. Although removing the test might be a good idea, I think many would oppose it and probably wouldn’t happen. But I definitely think there needs to be some major changes to the test. In terms of what we learn here, I think it's a good idea to teach everyone the history of the school. We need to make sure everyone knows about this issue so that we don’t repeat it again.

The Imposter
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15

Bigger than BLS

BLS as it stands offers the most AP courses out of any public high school in Boston, yet we've only recently established classes like African American Studies. In terms of what we learn here, it's important to diversify our curriculum as possible, while providing many perspectives of history as possible for our students. Aside from minor course changes, I don't think there's much we can do in terms of learning since we'd run into the same issue as extended homerooms. The inequity in the admissions process stems from a lot more than solely just Boston exam school admissions. It has much more to do with the history of Boston's schools as well as how the resources to Boston schools are allocated throughout BPS. The narrative that the exam schools--particularly BLS-- are the end-all-be-all for Boston schools is a plague that has swept across many households in Boston, and this is because other schools in our city simply can't even come close to competing. What needs to be done is better investments to education in our low income communities to at least level the playing field in regards to exam school admissions, but then we must also invest into our elementary schools--the foundation of students' intellect. BLS should do its best in educating its students on how these admissions are prejudiced and provide some ways that students can help. However, the problem is much bigger than BLS, it's a BPS wide issue that has persisted for years. The most BLS can do as the top exam school is shine a light on this problem and spearhead the efforts to try and work towards some sort of reform.

TroutCowboy
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

It's a start

The root cause of disproportionate levels of Black and Latino admission is income inequality. Kids in lower-income neighborhoods attend schools with less funding and therefore less resources, along with not being able to pay for tutoring to test competitively with the kids who are able to. The way BLS is addressing it currently is a step in the right direction when it comes to proper race/income representation in the school, but it ultimately seems like a band-aid solution to the much larger problem, that being the fact that kids who go to public schools, especially those in low-income neighborhoods, get far worse learning experiences, largely in part due to the fact that their schools are underfunded and the teachers underpaid. Schools are unable to hire quality staff and supply kids with the necessary resources to prepare them for not only the ISEE, but high school in general. I believe the key problem that needs to be addressed is the educational gap between kids that go to public schools as opposed to charter/private schools. While this kind of a gap will always remain simply due to the nature of private schools, I believe that closing this gap through increased funding and more attention towards the public school system will greatly benefit not only hopeful BLS entrants, but BPS students as a whole. When students from low-income neighborhoods, especially students of color, aren't as well-prepared for the ISEE, it's a sign that their education hasn't prepared them well enough for high school as a whole. Weighting entrants by neighborhood income is a good start in artificially correcting student acceptance rates to give more and better opportunities to kids from low-income neighborhoods, but it doesn't change the fact they they, along with many others, have still received a sub-par K-6 education, along with the fact that those who do not get in will likely still receive a poor education througho high school.

sleepypanda
Posts: 19

Issues with education system

I had some idea about the racism issue at BLS, but wasn’t too knowledgeable about it. I think the current plans with the new emissions process is a good first step, but it will not solve the issue at hand. The issue goes beyond BLS, but rather the whole school system.

Before getting into BLS, there is the issue of how students are prepped for the ISEE. Some students were part of the prep classes at BLS, some choose to attend ISEE prep classes, others either did both or neither. So of course, those who attended had some prep have an advantage over other students who didn’t, especially since the exam tests topics you don’t really learn in school. The issue goes beyond whether you went to prep classes or not, but rather your foundations.

I remember the summer before we started kindergarten, one of my friends and I were being forced to memorize our multiplication tables by our parents. At the time, I thought that was what all the kids were doing. The same way I thought I was dumb and was crying because I couldn't figure out how to add fractions with different denominators in third grade. You can imagine my surprise later on in 5th grade when we were going over what I had been told to learn over years prior, and some kids were having such a hard time. To be honest, it is only this year, that I really thought about how odd my education was compared to other students while tutoring 3rd/4th graders. In my elementary school, I was invited to join an afterschool course for the “advanced students” where we were going beyond the curriculum (e.g. learning exponents, etc. ), which I was a part of during 3rd/4th grade. In 4th grade, all our classes were split between the fast-paced classes, normal classes, and slower classes. I was in the fast-paced class, and I remember we finished the required curriculum earlier, so we moved on to learning topics beyond the curriculum. Within one school, the students are getting different educations. That was a predominately white school, and since I mostly interacted with students that were also in these advanced classes with me, I didn’t think much about it.

For 5th grade, I transferred from a public school to a charter school. I found myself being taught everything I already knew for the most part, yet these were new topics for everyone else. The school was mostly LatinX or Hispanic, and I found most of the students didn’t even know about the ISEE or any of the exam schools- granted some didn’t live in Boston. Three of us took the test (me, a white student, and a hispanic student), with each getting into one of the exam schools. On the other hand, out of the students from my elementary school, almost all of the students that were in my class got into the exam schools. Some choose to forgo BLS for BLA due to the racism issue back in 2016, while others choose to forgo exam schools for private schools.

Another issue to mention is funding. There is too much of a gap between the funding schools get. In the public school system, funding is done through test results, so better results = more funding. This creates a cycle where schools with more funding can better support students, meaning better scores, which creates a big divide in the quality of the schools. And this issue hurts schools with bigger populations of students of color. In the end, all these factors end up affect who gets into the exam schools.

To be honest, my mom is not very happy about getting rid of the ISEE. She is worried that the value of the school would drop- if it is no longer just the “top students” getting in. She had dropped thousands of dollars on prep classes and study materials for both my brother and I, and we had studied our butts off for the test, as many others did. And just tossing students that aren’t prepared for BLS in is also a bit cruel to the students. BLS is a bit notorious for its rigorous curriculum, and those kids we want to support by accepting them into a better-funded and well-resourced school may be crushed by the curriculum, especially for those who haven't been prepared.

Mnemosyne
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

This got longer than I thought it would...

First off, I would like to say that I am very glad that the ISEE test requirement was dropped, especially with COVID-19 completely wrecking every student’s life in some shape or form. I also really hope that the test requirement is not reinstated after COVID. The ISEE was explicitly designed for independent schools in mind, not for public schools like BLS. As such, it covered material that most BPS students had not learned before. I remember transferring into a BPS K-8 school in seventh grade and being completely bored out of my mind, because I had practically learned everything in the curriculum already. It was not that my classmates were stupid—just one conversation with any of them showed that they were fully-bilingual, hard-working, intellectually-curious individuals who, to be honest, were probably smarter than me. It was simply that they had never encountered the material before.

It was equally telling that the only two students from my grade who ended up at BLS were me—the only Asian in the school who did not have autism or was not in second grade—and a white classmate. There was no test prep of any sort at the school, and many of my classmates either did not know about the exam schools, or even believed that they would not get in. I was lucky in that I—or rather, my family—had the means to study for the test on my own. Simply printing the book from online (to be fair, not my wisest decision) probably cost dozens of dollars in ink at least, considering that I am still using pages of that book for scratch paper this year.

To be frank, non-exam BPS schools are failing. They cover far less material and have far less resources than private or even charter/parochial schools. Practically every single one of my textbooks from seventh grade was falling apart when I got it, and their logs show at least twenty years of use. Compare that to private schools, where each student receives brand-new textbooks that they got to keep.

And I have not even talked about the grades yet. In seventh grade, there were constant malfunctions with SIS, where I would often receive C’s when I should have gotten A’s. Though I was shocked at my poor grades, I did not know that they were wrong and was not even going to ask my teacher about it until my parents told me to. Considering that this happened quite a few times with me, I would assume that many of my classmates had had the same thing happen to them, and I fear that some of them might have just accepted them, not knowing that their GPA should be, in reality, much, much higher. Meanwhile, in eighth grade, I attended a private school where there were no such problems. In addition, it was, well, very, very hard to fail a class in that school. Or even get a B for that matter. For this reason, basing admission on GPA is still a rather poor method, as grade inflation is a real thing and happens very often at private schools.

I wholeheartedly agree with Ibram X. Kendi’s statement 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. And as @lavagirl says:

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.

I know that there have been a few attempts to give lower-performing schools more of a chance, the foremost one in my mind being the Boston Turnaround Schools, with the school I attended in seventh grade being a prime example of one. These schools, which were designated Level 4 because of their terrible test scores, received a lot of funding and incorporated a plan that was designed to give students more learning time and academic support. And for a few years, it did work to an extent: test scores increased. But then the money started drying up, and by the time I transferred in, it was becoming a joke at my school that it was turning around in the other direction.

(And honestly, this initiative had several gaping holes in it. First of all, test scores are a terrible way to measure student performance. Second of all, one of the key tenets of the plan was “180 hours of added time in the classroom without compensation.” What in the world? Who thought that it was a good idea to force under-paid, overworked teachers to put more time into the classroom, with no overtime pay whatsoever?)

BPS needs wide-sweeping reform. I am not just talking about giving students more test prep, but actual changes in its curriculum so that it actually becomes competitive instead of barely hitting state requirements. And for BLS in particular, I agree with @blueslothbear in that it needs a curriculum change. Currently, history classes focus way too much on European history, with history of other culture being relegated to one or two chapters. I think that Facing History is a wonderful attempt to address this problem, but there needs to be more than just one class. As for STEM, well, I think it is telling that my AP Calculus BC class is mostly white and Asian. There definitely needs to be more attempts at leveling the playing field, even within BLS.

TraderJoe's
Posts: 21

Continue this admissions process

At Boston Latin School itself, I don't think that extended homerooms and assemblies are the way to go, but I recognize and commend the efforts of the administration. Rather, changes in curriculum would be more impactful. For example, in my APUSH class we use two textbooks. The first is your standard American history from the colonizers' perspective, and the second is from Howard Zinn, who examines the maltreatment of minorities as well as their accomplishments in America. We use both to analyze history from these differing perspective and moreover understand the stories from key voices in history that would usually not be published in textbooks. Having ethnic studies is important as well, but as Ian mentioned in class the other day, the people that would need to take these ethnic studies class, are the people opting not to when they need it the most.

As many others have stated before me, the new admissions process is a great step in the right direction. Best stated from Ibrim Kendi's article, "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." It is only fair that a number of seats are set aside for students in each zip code based on gpa, rather than using the ISEE, ESPECIALLY when the ISEE is not covered within the BPS curriculum, and one would need to have tutoring to perform well on the test. The argument to keep the ISEE test for admission to the exam schools is that losing the ISEE would indicate the exam schools losing its prestige and it'd be much easier for students to come. What would really happen is that exam schools would be open to more students of color and those who come from low income families. To claim that Boston Latin School is would lost its prestige due to the presence of more black and brown students, comes from simply racist ideologies and people need to recognize that. This admissions process should continue for the coming years, and reserve seats from different neighborhoods for students to attend this school. That would compensate for how the majority of the students that currently attend come from areas with high income such as West Roxbury. We must recognize however that this is only the beginning and that there's still so much work to be done, for example, not all low income families can afford school supplies or the expensive calculators needed for math classes.

For a school to be anti racist, we must amplify the voices of our students of color and make them feel heard. I'm proposing that we have sessions once a term where students of color share their experiences regarding race to achieve an environment where students can relate to or better their understanding on racism. Think of like Moth Day, but for specifically addressing race. I fear that these sessions would go the same extended homeroom, but Moth Day goes well usually and a great number of people show up, so I'm on the fence. This would open a barrier between students of color and white students and help to come to level of understanding on both sides.

TraderJoe's
Posts: 21

Originally posted by TroutCowboy on December 07, 2020 04:41

The root cause of disproportionate levels of Black and Latino admission is income inequality. Kids in lower-income neighborhoods attend schools with less funding and therefore less resources, along with not being able to pay for tutoring to test competitively with the kids who are able to. The way BLS is addressing it currently is a step in the right direction when it comes to proper race/income representation in the school, but it ultimately seems like a band-aid solution to the much larger problem, that being the fact that kids who go to public schools, especially those in low-income neighborhoods, get far worse learning experiences, largely in part due to the fact that their schools are underfunded and the teachers underpaid. Schools are unable to hire quality staff and supply kids with the necessary resources to prepare them for not only the ISEE, but high school in general. I believe the key problem that needs to be addressed is the educational gap between kids that go to public schools as opposed to charter/private schools. While this kind of a gap will always remain simply due to the nature of private schools, I believe that closing this gap through increased funding and more attention towards the public school system will greatly benefit not only hopeful BLS entrants, but BPS students as a whole. When students from low-income neighborhoods, especially students of color, aren't as well-prepared for the ISEE, it's a sign that their education hasn't prepared them well enough for high school as a whole. Weighting entrants by neighborhood income is a good start in artificially correcting student acceptance rates to give more and better opportunities to kids from low-income neighborhoods, but it doesn't change the fact they they, along with many others, have still received a sub-par K-6 education, along with the fact that those who do not get in will likely still receive a poor education througho high school.

I completely agree, I think we must address the underfunding of schools in the BPS district and how blatantly obvious it is that resources are not allocated evenly throughout the district. The exam school admissions process, for my school, in a way begins in 3rd grade where students take some standardized test to determine who belongs in Advanced Work Classes and who belongs in regular classes. These AWC classes meant that you would most likely end up at one of the exam schools because they prepared you more for the exam, but if you were in regular classes, chances are very slim. What happens to those students in the regular classes? Why should this test in 3rd grade determine the next high school you'll go to?

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