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

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

We divided into breakout rooms and looked at three articles:

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


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

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

…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.)


2020-2021 Number

2020-2021 Percentage

2019-2020 Number

2019-2020 Percentage





















Native Am.















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.
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 28

BLS and the Ugly Truth We Aren't Supposed to Know About

I believe there are a lot of things that need to happen to BLS and BPS as a whole. We need to stop acting like the system isn’t flawed in so many ways. It favors people in terms of race and class, which should never be factors in a child’s education.

Boston Latin especially needs to recognize how our school is overwhelmingly white and it doesn’t reflect how Boston Public Schools really are. BLS was 47.33% white last school year and BPS was 14% white last school year; people have to see the problem in that. It is honestly racist to say that there is no problem with the admissions process. In the article by Ibram X. Kendi in the Boston Globe says this, “This is the elephant in the room that the people claiming the standardized test is fair do not want to discuss. They will claim white and Asian kids on average score higher on tests because they are smarter or work harder. Meaning Black and Latinx kids are not as smart or not as hard-working. Meaning white and Asian kids are superior. And all these racist ideas from people claiming they are not racist.” He worded it perfectly, people who are saying these things don’t understand the problems with this system because they aren’t affected by it. We need to start looking at aspects of life in other people’s shoes and maybe then our school system can change.

Class is a large factor going into the test and admissions to exam schools, especially BLS. Growing up in West Roxbury, all that was talked about was the ISEE and test prep. Our parents paid a lot of money for us to get into a school that you probably wouldn’t have gotten into without the tutoring (I’m speaking for myself because I definitely wouldn’t have gotten into BLS if I didn’t do extensive test prep). For people that are like me we need to check our privilege. Many children's parents didn’t have the means to pay for test prep and that shouldn’t bar their child from a good education. Again in Ibram X. Kendi’s article says, “I won’t tell you that across the United States test prep companies and consultants are concentrated in white and Asian neighborhoods. Because we’re not supposed to talk about all this. We’re not supposed to be talking about the fact that all Boston children do not have equal access to high-quality test preparation — and it’s impossible to create equal access. We’re not supposed to talk about all this legal cheating.” I believe the test and the admissions process are in favor of higher income households. But the conversation doesn’t stop with that, we also need to talk about the education in BPS elementary and high schools. What about the kids that don’t have the means to get tutoring and don’t get into the exam schools and can’t pay for private schools. BPS non-exam schools need to start getting the attention they desperately need. For some kids, it’s all or nothing, and it shouldn’t be like that. Kids should be able to get a good education if they didn’t get into the exam schools. So I think we need to pay attention to those schools a lot more than we do now.

At BLS we need to start taking accountability for what has happened at this school and it’s racist past. I believe the whole school should get the presentation we just did in class today because maybe then kids will see how the admissions and test are very flawed. Some of the things I didn’t even know happened were in that presentation and honestly I was a little embarrassed for not knowing the racist past of BLS so that’s why I think everyone needs to learn about it. I remember in 2016 when everything happened at BLS. So many people were mad at those girls for standing up for themselves and exposing the true racism that was going at BLS. That was 4 years ago, 4 YEARS AGO, that is not at all a long time ago. We have definitely tried to make strides and we have done well but definitely not enough. I think we need to severely alter the admissions process and we are going in the right direction with getting rid of the test but that’s not even close to the end of it.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

Is BLS Really A Public School?

After doing the extensive research about the racist history of Boston, it is no surprise that there is carry over to the school system. But, what is surprising is that I wasn’t aware of the extent before today. By implementing changes within the Boston Public School System, the city itself will be impacted positively.

To start, I want to acknowledge the opportunities that were taken from many students of color due to the flaws of a “supposed” equitable school system. Saying this reminds me of the privilege I have to attend Boston Latin School. But also in saying this, my pride for this school is lessened. It concerns and saddens me that stil,l not everybody has an equal chance at opportunity.

This issue is being brought to light because of the test but, the test would not be an issue if the curriculum of the Boston Public Elementary Schools was aligned with the test.The fact that the ISEE is inequitable is supported by the statistics of race in the Boston Public Schools vs. Boston Latin School. The Boston Public School system is made up of 42.5% Hispanic students vs. 13.42% at BLS. The district is 33% Black students while only 7.74% of students are Black at BLS. White students make up only 14% of BPS, but account for almost 45% of students at BLS. Lastly, Asian students make up 9% of the student population of Boston Public Schools but almost 30% of students at BLS.

As we can see from this data the Boston Public School district is diverse. And having gone through the public school system, I can say as a white female I was of the minority from Pre-School until 6th grade. There is no lack of colored students in the school system, so why is there a lack of colored students in a high school that is built for them and their school district? The disconnect has to be the test that is administered.

Many white and asian students, including myself, used test prep as an advantage on the test. And I can say that without this test prep I would not have known the content of the test. Then many of the students who do not have the access to test prep, primarily black and brown students, then have to rely on their elementary public school education. And the numbers above prove that this education is not adequate. So the Boston Public School district has 2 options: change the test to match the content that is taught in schools, Or change what is being taught in the school system to more accurately reflect the content on the test. To paraphrase what Ibrahim X Kendi said, to continue to allow these percentages to exist, is to continually, and perpetually glorify the idea that white and asian students are smarter or more hard-working.

While we struggle with instances of racism frequently in our school community, I think that the lesson that was taught today needs to be shared in an assembly. This will open the eyes of so many that Boston Latin School has been a leading example of systemic racism from the beginning of its establishment. How can we pride oursleves on being the oldest public school in the country, when our demographics do not reflect a public school in Boston?

The students are what make BLS Boston Latin School. The things we do in our time here, and what we do after we leave here all contribute to the reputation of BLS. I want to contribute to giving BLS a name of an equitable, enriching exam school. While I believe BLS school has provided me with immense opportunity, I want nothing more than opportunity for those who have been denied.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 19

Race and Class at BLS

I believe that the Boston Public School system desperately needs to change in several ways. The extent of the racial imbalance in our school is shocking when comparing it to the demographics of BPS as a whole. Yet I spent over three years at this school before it was ever formally discussed in a classroom, first talking about it in regards to the 10th grade economic inequality project, and now in Facing History. Similarly I knew about the events in 2016 prior to coming to BLS, yet I had never talked about it at BLS until this year. In a similar manner to the racist history of Boston, the racism in our school feels like it has been swept under the rug. I agree with razzledazzle8 that the whole school should receive the presentation we had in class today. It is so important for every student to recognize the flaws in this system, learn about the racist history of our school and help to make a change for future students.

We need to recognize that before the test was removed, it was necessary to do well on the ISEE in order to attend an exam school, yet the information on the test was not taught in most BPS classrooms. Many people including myself took test prep classes or got private tutors in order to do well on the ISEE, something that Ibram X. Kendi refers to as “legal cheating.” This was an option that not everyone had. These classes are often expensive, which means economically disadvantaged students weren’t given an equal opportunity to succeed. It is crazy that this system had gone on so long without being adapted.

Another issue with the test was that since it was not given in schools, many students didn't know when or where to take it, and often missed the registration date. While the admissions process clearly needs revision and I think removing the ISEE is a step in the right direction, BPS as a whole also has a lot of work to do.

Many elementary schools are underfunded and don’t prepare kids for the exam schools. Yet even if we could improve elementary school education, there are only three exam schools. What about the other children? As Chester E. Finn Jr. mentions, there should be “more such schools for bright children from every background to get a top-notch education.” While it is hard to say how we can fix the admissions process and BPS as a whole, we must start by recognizing these issues as a school and advocating for change in the system.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

The Racist History of BLS, and moving forwards.

In class, when we went over BLS’s history, it was not surprising to me that early headmasters owned slaves, or that there were race boxes on the attendance form. While it shocked me in the moment, I quickly realized this is not out of character for the type of school I attend. I was more surprised that I was just learning these things now, when they should be something talked about and used in discussions to further understand the history of our school and how we should work on correcting these things in the future.

What really resonated with me was that BLS was not always an exam school, but it was only after protests of desegregation happened that they decided to require a test for admission. While I am not saying that BLS decided to have a test to keep the school segregated, the events are correlated. The test itself may not have been racist, but the effects of it were. Class and neighborhood played a huge role in ability to study/prepare for the test, and only those who could afford private tutoring were given the best shot. The contents of the test were not taught in schools, making it extremely inaccessible, and I think that BPS was aware of this. BLS is elitist, and prides itself on it.

While this is not to say that there weren't Black or Latinx students that could not afford this private tutoring, but that with Boston’s history of redlining and income inequality, the inaccessibility to preparation to this test disproportionately affected people of color. As Ibram X. Kendi discusses how people use the environment to explain lower test scores from black and hispanic students he states, “Their supposedly broken cultures, homes, schools, and families have made them intellectually inferior. Standardized tests have become the most effective racist weapon ever devised to objectively degrade Black and brown minds and legally exclude their bodies.” A question that comes to mind is, why do BLA and the O'Bryant differ so much in racial percentages than BLS? The same test is taken to get into all of them, so what has skewed the demographics so differently over the 3 schools?

I think that the first steps to making a change in our school is education. It is so often we are given white-washed history textbooks, and taught by teachers who find race too difficult to talk about. The fact that I was only just made aware of Boston’s extremely racist history shows this. I also agree with 239bid0073, when they said “the lesson that was taught today needs to be shared in an assembly. This will open the eyes of so many that Boston Latin School has been a leading example of systemic racism from the beginning of its establishment. How can we pride ourselves on being the oldest public school in the country, when our demographics do not reflect a public school in Boston?” This information needs to be exposed if we plan on moving forward as a community. The worst part is that there is ongoing racism within the school, as #BlackatBLS was only 4 years ago, and there are still many racist incidents being reported.

I think that the test being taken away was a great first step, and I am excited to see how the new admissions process plays out. I feel very lucky to be able to live through this historical moment. However, why can't this education just be a baseline for BPS? I understand it's not as simple as that, but what if we just made BLS an open entrance school, with no grade requirement? We are stripping so many students of the education and opportunities they deserve. If we implemented a BLS-like curriculum into every BPS school, and redirected funding, we could create a school system that gives students equal opportunity, not just luck of getting into an elite school. I hope we not only continue to have discussions on race at BLS, but of BLS’s own involvement in racism, and the steps we are taking to address and change that. The fact that even I (who came to the school in 2016) have had teachers who have said the n-word or been racially insensitive is chilling. We need reform in the textbooks we read and the curriculums we are taught. I think it will take a while to fully reform BLS, deeply rooted racism cannot be solved with a few quick fixes. However, these are good first steps, and I praise Ms. Skerritt for the work she has done to better BLS and make it more inclusive, so that it actually reflects the demographics of the city we live in.

Posts: 18

BLS Needs to Prioritize Becoming Antiracist

I am ashamed to realize that I only knew a fraction of Boston’s racist history before this class. Some people might think that it should be one’s own responsibility to learn about such harsh realities, but I think BLS has an obligation to revisit its less-esteemed past through its curriculum and be ready to take any criticism from it. It is disappointing to know that I studied ancient Mesopotamian history and the random types of Roman columns in seventh grade before I learned the most basic history of Boston, something that I am only learning in depth in my second to last year here, and not even in a mandatory class. I would suggest that the BLS curriculum be revised to include an in-depth unit into the history of BLS and Boston as a whole in the seventh grade Humanities class. I believe that is something very easy to do and would greatly benefit the students, demonstrating to them that BLS cares and is trying to do right by teaching its history and supporting change, instead of leaving students frustrated and disappointed in the school, feeling like it was hiding and lying. I think it’s so important for a student to be aware of where they are spending half their day, and by not teaching BLS’ racist past, the school is solidifying students’ false pride to belong to a “perfect” school and encouraging them to be blind to systems that need change.

Ibram X. Kendi’s statement called out BPS by saying “We have a culture of lies to substantiate the exalted and the advantaged in this country. We do not want to tell the truth to provide equal opportunity for the denigrated and disadvantaged in this country.” Even before, but especially after learning about the racial make-up and the outcry against the racially hostile incidents at BLS, I wholeheartedly agree with Kendi’s statement. In 2016, when the video came out about the many racially hostile incidents, there was backlash and Ms. Mooney Teta stepped down, but how much solid change came from that? We learned today in class that Joe Bagley’s archeology excavation and cowrie shell find was in the same year. As Ms. Freeman commented, the fact that this wasn’t big news just solidifies my view that BPS and BLS are still hiding from any truth of their racist past, and haven’t considered acknowledgement as a key role in becoming “an antiracist” , as Kendi terms it.

In regards to admission practices, my viewpoint is largely similar to Ibram X. Kendi’s. He explained how his family is not directly hurt by the exam system, and mine isn’t either. I was lucky enough to have gone to a good private school before BLS and my family could afford to spend some time and money on test prep books. That is a privilege I think a lot of us haven’t recognized until now, but if I lived in a neighborhood where hardly anyone got into an exam school and my family couldn’t afford any time or money into test prep, I doubt I even would have applied, let alone get in. And that’s how this exam system discourages and disadvantages minority students. So I agree with taking out the exam, and as to the zipcode-GPA combination acceptance, I think this is a good plan stepping towards a school that gives equal opportunity to all races. It will be interesting to see the racial make-up of this incoming class, and I am looking forward to seeing all of them succeed, regardless of their background, because, as Kendi said, “There’s something wrong with the test and the admissions policies. And to say there’s something wrong with Black and Latinx children is to espouse racist ideas.”

People are upset because their kids or siblings will have a smaller chance to get “as good an education as BLS,” and that is also part of the problem. As @239bid0073 mentioned, the BPS overall racial make-up is vastly different from BLS’, and I agree that it is hard to even call ourselves a real public school. I wonder how the funding differs in BLS than other schools. I would hope that in the future there is more effort put into other BPS schools to make them as attractive as BLS.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 27

Fixing the Admissions Process...To a Certain Extent

Though I was aware that the racial makeup of BLS did not reflect that of the city, and that significantly fewer white students were enrolled in BPS than BLS, seeing all the data so starkly laid out in class today helped me realize the gravity of the situation. It is because of this clear problem that I know something has to be done about our admissions system. However, I am not sure if I fully support the plan proposed by the Exam School Working Group.

After reading “The Fraught Racial Politics of Entrance Exams for Elite High Schools” by Alvin Chang, I better understand what the working group is proposing. Chang describes how a system in New York similar to the one adopted for next year in Boston would make it so that students in poorer, segregated areas need only compete against their neighbors rather than those in rich areas with access to more resources than they. Each middle school would have a certain number of spots guaranteed, so instead of a majority coming from one school, an equal amount would be coming from all over the city. I do agree with this part of the plan. I think that it levels the playing field for students of all backgrounds and gives students a more equal shot in admissions by making sure students are only competing against those who have received the same education and most likely have access to the same resources. Like @butterfly123 says, a lot of the content on the ISEE isn’t taught in schools, so by eliminating this test of one’s outside knowledge, they are creating an opportunity for students to be admitted solely on their academic performance on what they have been taught.

Chang also mentions in his article that many alumni of these elite schools are concerned that not taking a test would lower the quality of the students that attend the school. I confess, I felt this same worry when I first heard the proposal. Elementary schools’ grading systems are subjective, and an A in one school might be significantly harder to achieve than in another. However, Chang also cites studies that show this new admissions system would not have a substantial detrimental effect on the quality of the school, so that aspect of the argument is no longer valid.

The one part of the plan I do disagree with is the prioritizing of neighborhoods based on income levels. No student controls where they live, regardless of whether that be in a rich or poor neighborhood, so I do not think it is fair that that aspect play into any part of admissions. In addition, parents already move from all over the world to have an opportunity to send their child to BLS. The only thing that this aspect of the proposed system would change is to which part of the city those people move, so in the end, I do not think it would really make much of a positive difference to the admissions process.

If that aspect of the plan proposed by the Exam School Working Group were removed, then I believe that it would be a reasonable and effective way of fixing the admissions process to a certain extent. However, as many students discussed in class today, there are still only a certain number of spots available at the exam schools. What about everyone else who doesn’t get in? Something more needs to be done to ensure that students who aren’t able to attend these elite schools still get a decent education. Though I do not have all the answers, I’m sure that if people sat down and put their heads together, a feasible solution could be developed. However, I am afraid that people might get so caught up in their victory over the exam schools admissions process that they forget there is still a lot that can be improved in BPS as a whole, so I hope that city officials and community leaders will continue to work together until a resolution for everyone can be found.

Similar to like @razzledazzle8 and @239bid0073, I also think that going forward, all BLS students should be given the presentation we were today, as well as the articles shared by Ms. Freeman. I know of a lot of students like myself who were uneducated on the details of the proposed change to our admissions process, and automatically assumed that it was going to harm our reputation and lower the quality of the school. However, after seeing all the facts, and learning more about what the plan would actually mean, I have found that I actually agree with most of it. I think this could be the case for a lot of students if they had the opportunity to really think about and understand all this information.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 22

Boston Public Schools Needs to Change

The option I believe would work best is more similar to Boston Public Schools’ pre-COVID plan for the exam schools admissions process this year. They were going to not only switch from the ISEE to the MAP for testing, but they were going to offer the new test to all BPS students during the school day so everyone could have an opportunity to take the exam. The MAP works better than the ISEE for several reasons. The areas it covers are much more similar to the BPS curriculum, reducing the leg up offered by testing prep and giving students a more fair shot at admission. Further, the test was to be offered in Spanish, so that ESL students would not have to be limited by their proficiency in their second language, but would instead be tested on their preparedness for an exam school.

In addition though, I think it would be beneficial if all the exam schools reserved the bottom 20-40% of their classes to have a more zip code based system, which would further allow for disadvantaged students who have the necessary work ethic and drive to succeed at Boston Latin School and the other exam schools, even if their preparation has been lacking. However, this should not apply to the majority of the seats - my district only gets one seat at any of the three exam schools because I live near an area that has very rapidly gentrified, so while some people drive up the median income, many of the families in my zip code could not afford to send their children to private schools if they were not accepted. So while I believe that a certain percentage of seats should be allocated according to zip code to combat the major disparities between the make-up of BLS and BPS as a whole, this should not be applied to the vast majority of seats.

Further, I think BLS students need to be able to learn more about the history of Boston education and how it led to the system today. It would allow us to more fully understand our privilege as BLS students, and force us to think more about how our district needs to change.

I felt that Chester Finn made a fair point in his article that the real failure is that everyone feels compelled to fight so viciously over these seats at exam schools. If students who are not accepted at the exam schools are doomed to attend failing high schools, then exam school admissions policies are only part of the problem, and BPS needs to work harder to make sure EVERY BPS student has the opportunity to get a strong education. If students from certain elementary schools are almost never accepted at exam schools, the issue is with those elementary schools, and the district must find a way to ensure that every student in grades K1-12 in Boston Public Schools has access to an education that prepares them for the career they choose.

Charlestown, MA, US
Posts: 18

BLS needs to do better.

Throughout my many years of attending Boston Public Schools and BLS, I have been to both a very diverse school with a small White population and a large school with a majority White population. I can just say that for a fact, the education levels and expectations are very different. When I attended the very diverse school, I was faced with a multitude of repeated math questions year by year and didn’t really learn anything new. When it was time to enter BLS, I knew for sure that I was not mentally ready to attend this school. Life at BLS was very different; there were more classes and the math questions were not repeated and something that I have never seen before. I was very astonished by the fact that even if they were both part of the same school district, education could vary this much. From the article by Ibram X Kendi about the exam schools, he mentions that “Boston children do not have equal access to high-quality test preparation” and I completely agree. I never attended any paid after school program or ISEE prep to prepare for the exam because I did not think it was fair and I could not afford it. I did not think that paying my way to get a “good” score on an admissions test was fair to my other peers who also couldn’t afford the prep programs. Fortunately, BLS offers a free ISEE prep program that my friends and I did attend. Our admissions system is still very flawed, but I do appreciate what BLS is trying to do. One thing that I still do not understand is why race and income should matter when it comes to the quality of someone’s education.

BLS is a school that is praised for being the best of the best; the number one school in the whole state. I think that through having such a praised reputation, BLS thinks very highly of themselves. We think that we only deserve the best of the best, and through the data shown above, the “best of the best” are mostly Whites and Asians. Following this, Kendi states “They will claim white and Asian kids on average score higher on tests because they are smarter or work harder. Meaning Black and Latinx kids are not as smart or not as hard-working. Meaning white and Asian kids are superior.” Recently, we discovered that some Asians were required to fill out their race as Whites in the 20th century. This further developed a racial gap and less diversity in our schools. I think that the presentation about BLS and their history with racial issues should be shown once a year through class assemblies. I really did learn a lot about BLS and how hypocritical our education system is when they favor students with higher incomes because they can afford more after school tutoring or exam prep.

In terms of admissions, I think we have reached a point where ranks should no longer matter. I understand that this is a controversial topic, but I honestly do not understand why we, in this day and age, still have ranks. Education is very important in everyone’s life; it is the foundation of knowledge and power. We learn just so that we can prosper in the future. By having ranks and students comparing grades with each other all the time, our mental health deteriorates because of feeling inferior to other students and accepting that we are “less smart” than others. There are always so many factors to getting a low grade, but it doesn’t qualify someone as “stupid.” Our school prioritizes rankings and good statistics over a balance of diversity in the classrooms. I think that we can definitely improve on our admissions process and to teach our students that BLS is not always a one-on-one competition, but more of a teamwork effort. In the future, I hope that I finally get to see more Black and Latinx students learning in a well-balanced classroom, and that everyone finally achieves the same great quality of education that they deserve.

Chestnuthill, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 21

BLS and it's racist past

While there has been and still is a lot of racism present within our school and the members within it, the whole system is just flawed. The solution for the lack of diversity in the schools is to open more spots for those with lower incomes. For years, it has been well known that most of the students from the three exam schools received a lot of tutoring, extra support in their schools, and overall better circumstances than those who didn't get in. It is well known that private school students and those do go to Pat Bench have a much higher chance of getting in than those who don't have the finances for such. But why is there nothing being said about the education being so inadequate that there must be tutoring and extra help to get into these schools? Why isn't the basic elementary education good enough for one to make it into the exam schools without extra money being spent? I believe that the steps of acknowledging the problem and trying to solve it are good, but there is a larger issue regarding education that needs to be solved, and that is the basic public education is not adequate enough. Also, something that Boston Latin School can do is provide more opportunities for tutoring for out of school students who are aiming to come here. Provide free tutoring from Boston Latin students, or group classes. I find it very good that we are learning about the inequity within our school, and that we are able to discuss it. We should continue to teach about inequality, and to continue to discuss and attempt to find solutions.

But this issue is not only present in Boston, but all over the country. As described in an article, there is much segregation and a lack of diversity in many schools. This is happening in cities everywhere, such as New York, San Fransisco, and where ever there are exam schools. Everything comes back to income inequality, lack of education in the United States, and lack of diversity. But there is hope, as these topics are now being discussed, and there are attempts in trying to make schools more diverse and provide more opportunities for others.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 16

Let's shift the focus.

During my time here, I’ve always noticed that the racial makeup of BLS was overwhelmingly white but it still shocked me a lot when the statistics were put out and the racial makeup of all three exam schools were set side by side against that of Boston. After today’s class and reading the article by Ibram X. Kendi, my respect for the school and pride as a student of BLS has definitely lessened.

On many occasions, teachers and the administrators always emphase our school motto, sumus primi(we are first), but not many people have actually thought further into the motto about what we should be priding ourselves in. Are we priding ourselves in the racist history of our school? Are we priding ourselves in being able to get into this tough, elitist, exam school and solely through our own efforts at that? For many BLS students, the answer to that is no, because all of us probably were enrolled in extensive test prep programs prior to the ISEE. We have to first realize that we hold so much privilege in our hands, that many people of the Boston district don’t have the same privilege we do to throw in tens of hundreds of dollars to get into BLS or the other exam schools.

I agree with what Kendi proposed in his article, “What is always best for the community is admission policies that create equal opportunity for all. And we know a policy is creating more equal opportunity — and thereby is antiracist — if it is closing racial and economic inequity.” At birth, some people already have many advantages over others, especially when factoring in their racial and economic status, therefore there is no way to make the admission policies equal until we start considering from the side of the disadvantaged people. The disadvantaged don’t have the same opportunity that many of us have to get the tutoring necessary to do well on the entrance exam but what happens to them afterwards? Agreeing with razzledazzle8, we should start first by shifting the focus and paying more attention to BPS non-exam schools so that children there could have an equal opportunity as children in the exam schools for better education. Kendi explains this particularly well, “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. I wholeheartedly support this plan, which begins to reverse the status quo: Instead of advantaged kids having the edge in admission decisions, disadvantaged kids should have the edge in admissions decisions.”

I believe this presentation that we had in class today shouldn’t be limited to the Facing History classroom. It should be presented in a wider space to all the students of BLS so they understand the school that they’re in better and examine it’s racist past together and work to overcome any remaining racism in our school system. Ending it off with my favorite quote from Kendi’s article, “This proposal can begin the process of transforming our high-quality exam schools into high-quality opportunity schools. Let’s call them that. Let’s make them opportunity

schools.” Revisiting our common good discussion, for the common good for all BPS students, we should first get rid of this elitist attitude that we still hold and then as the next step, aim to give equal opportunities for those who are denied it in our communities.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 20

Is it okay for BLS to "be the best"?

Before learning about the history of race at BLS, I really only associated segregated schooling as something that happened in the South. However after learning about the Morgan v. Hennigan court case and everything that unfolded in South Boston and Roxbury, I realized that the North was just as racist and segregated as the South. What was even more surprising to me was the fact that BLS was largely involved in all of this as well. From the large number of cases and lawsuits it was involved in, one would think that there would have been some significant changes made, but I do not believe that we see much of a difference today. Yes, we have come a long way from the past, but we are nowhere near where we need to be in regards to racial equality based off of the statistics given on the demographics of BLS in comparison to the rest of BPS.

In terms of where to go from here, especially with the pandemic, I think that the new admissions process for the upcoming year is a decent starting point. It does address the issue of students being disproportionately accepted. The students who are able to “cheat”, their way into the school, as Ibram X. Kendi’s article calls it, by being able to get access to test prep resources, clearly have an edge over the students who cannot access these resources. Based on my own experience here, a majority of people I know had their families spend money on extra tutoring programs, books, and what have you, in order to prepare for the exam. To be quite honest, I didn’t even know that this practice of paying to get ahead was so common among students. In my opinion, paying to get an edge over the other students defeats the purpose of what I think the exam schools should be for. Aside from its early history of being a means for wealthy families to keep their children highly educated, the exam schools served as a way up for a great deal of immigrant families. Now, it appears that the school is slowly reverting back to its original roots of keeping the “higher education” within the population that has more wealth. That being said, the new admissions process does have a lot of vulnerabilities when it comes to dealing with median income and zip code. For instance, the student on the lower end of a higher median income neighborhood would be put at a disadvantage against their counterparts and could be lacking the extra tutoring that the other students could be getting. To summarize, the new admissions process makes sense for our special situation right now, but in the long run, it’s just sweeping all the problems under a new rug.

BLS being a predominantly white school, particularly in comparison to the rest of BPS, can still be all the pride and joy that it wants to be, but I don’t think that the difference in quality of education should be all too different from the other schools. Students who do not end up getting admitted into the exam schools should not be deprived of a good education. Like many others have offered in the forum, the school should focus much more on recognizing and educating its population on its history with equity. Holding assemblies and giving an outlet for discussion to students is one way that we can educate the classes. We should conduct these for all grades. I myself did not even think that this was still as big an issue as it is now when I was an incoming sixie or even during my past years at this school. If anything, I am ashamed that I did not know about the severity of the situation until my junior year in this class. It took me over 4 years to even be able to discuss it in a school setting.

Concerning the future, I think the ultimate goal would be to have equal education for all students. Students should be getting the same resources and the same opportunities at success and I completely agree with @broskiii that we should just get rid of ranks altogether. I never saw the point of having “prestigious” schools. Why should one school have an edge over another? I think that especially in the US, we are all taught, whether subconsciously or not, a very capitalist mindset. We all want to be successful, more successful than the last person. This competition that we have to make the most money in our futures is a goal that I’ve noticed is frequent amongst our student population at BLS. I think we all get blinded by the competition within our own school community that we don't check the privilege that we all have compared to the rest of the BPS community.

Posts: 18

The racist past of BLS and going forwards

I believe there are many thing BLS and, in general, BPS can both change and improve. There has been a lot of racism within our school's past and even racism present today within our school. That's why i was too surprised when i heard, in class, more of BLS's racist past, such as early headmasters owning slaves and the race boxes on attendance sheets. I was surprised that i just was learning this now though. Even though we're a public school the past shows there have been incidents where it didn't seem like a public school. A public school means everyone has the same chance and opportunity to get in, regardless of if you have to take an exam to get in or not. I think Kendi made a good point in the Boston Globe article. In the article he said "I am not going to speak to you about what is best for my child. It is not your job to do what’s best for my child. It is your job to do what’s best for all Boston children." BLS can improve the lack of diversity by opening more spots or reaching out to more African American or Hispanic people to take the test. They could also accept more Hispanics and African Americans and not include race or income in their admissions or decisions to admit students. think everyone should have an equal opportunity or chance to get into any exam school and their race or income shouldn't matter for a public school that's free or for the ISEE.

what’s best for my child. It is your job to do what’s best for all Boston children. And what’s best for my child. It is your job to do what’s best for all Boston children. And

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 20

Will there always be people like Julia McClaughlin's father?

5 years ago, at the start of sixth grade, now juniors at BLS were preparing for and taking the ISEE exam to get into our school. Looking at the students in my grade and in our school in general, students from West Roxbury make up a very decent amount of total students. Students from West Roxbury at BLS either came from the private schools in West Roxbury or the several public schools, more the former than the latter. My elementary school, which was part of Boston Public Schools, poorly prepared us for the test, leaving many to get tutors. I remember sitting in my sixth grade math class less than a week before the test and being given a 20-page packet on what we could expect on the ISEE. None of the material had been taught in class prior and I could see that many stared at most of the math skills in the packet in awe. I certainly would not have known any of it if I had not been going to advanced math classes since 3rd grade. To no surprise, the children who got into the exam schools or a top private school were tutored, and most were white or Asian. Before any change of admissions, BPS needs to fix its curriculum for elementary and middle schools which includes more accessible test prep within the curriculum. Black and brown students are clearly disadvantaged in preparation for the test in this “legal cheating,” as Ibram X Kendi explains in his testimony to the school committee in October 2020.

Onto the admissions for the exam schools, people need to know the history behind the test they are taking. I only found out by reading Ibram Kendi’s article that the ISEE was designed by eugenicist Lewis Terman over a century ago for the sole purpose of distinguishing children of color as inferior in mental capacity and intelligence. A test with such racist history should not be the face of our so-called elite schools. This is going against any perpetuation of anti-racist policies if the very foundation is racist. While preserving an exam in future years after COVID may be abiding by the notion of our school as an exam school, it either should not be the ISEE or BPS needs to actively go against the original use of the test by making test prep more accessible. I believe that the zip code policy should be kept to provide more diversity in background and opinions at BLS, but not at such a high percentage of seats if the exam is kept. Although, if the test is kept alongside the zip code policy, there will always be people like Julia McClaughlin’s father who will sue the school for not accepting a white child who did better on the test than a student of color in a different zip code. In a pessimistic lense, this cycle may never end because so many parents are fixated on getting their children to the top regardless of the detriment to other students who were disadvantaged from the start. Kendi asserts the notion that some things are greater than your child. BPS needs justice and equity, not a one-sided race to greatness.

boston, massachusetts, US
Posts: 22

Privilege and Change

Boston Latin School has always been thought of as the best school in the area with the smartest and the hardest working kids in Boston. However, how can one truly define who the smartest kids are and whose “worthy” of coming to Boston Latin. The test system is clearly flawed. When I came to BLS the system was you come and take the test on your own time on a saturday at a different school. This made it extremely hard for some kids to take the test and scared kids away from wanting to come to BLS. Many kids were set on the path of success because of their privilege. My middle school had an advanced work program that really insured your success in getting into an exam school. This class was not very diverse and mostly had white students. Along with the ISEE test prep classes that they held at my school which were also mostly white students. However, the school itself was pretty diverse, almost only did the white kids at my school get into BLS. This is how the system is rigged from the start. Everyone should be learning the same things because everyone can learn and grow they shouldn’t just pick a special group of kids and give them special treatment. If you step back and look at the way things are set up, they are from the start segregating the system. With such a diverse city, the best school shouldn’t be almost half white people.

The change in the system is definitely a step in the right direction however people are very mad at it and it most likely won’t continue past this year. People are mad because they can’t see the privilege differences and hold them accountable for test scores. People need to realize their privilege and put it in perspective. A student shouldn’t be judged just on how well they do on a test without a face or a story. Looking at income is a start for this process however I think that BLS needs to stop thinking we are too good to let certain students in. The extremely selective process is what calls for such a gap in the diversity at our school. I understand that a lot of students work very hard to get here however theres a lot of students who also work very hard however they just don’t have the resources to get into BLS because of a variety of things. I think if BLS really wanted to diversify they would have every single BPS student take a test and do a lottery of students who got above a certain score on the test. This brings down the selectiveness and rises the rate at which students of all different races could get in.

The academics at BLS are very old school. We learn a lot about classics and LAtin which aren’t really that necessary, however we don’t really learn much about other cultures and current events. Only students who pick certain classes will learn in depth about the history of different cultures. I think that if they can make US history mandatory they should make things like classes like facing history mandatory. The future of BLS looks like we could see some change around the board in admission processes as well as different classes to take however, this is up to the citizens of Boston. They have already proven they are not ready for change when they protested the recent changes. I have hope that eventually BLS will change it’s way and learn of the privilege and how to work around it.

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