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system would not have a substantial detrimental effect on the quality of the school, so that aspect of the argument is no longer valid.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.