posts 16 - 29 of 29
Hector_Zeroni
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

“The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones…”

“So let it be with Meggie Noel and Kylie Webster-Cazeau. The noble Boston Latin School and a sizable portion of its supporters hath told that those women were ambitious: If their allegations of racism were true, it was obviously a one time thing and grievously hath Meggie Noel and Kylie Webster-Cazeau worked to destroy the reputation of BLS. Here, lies the school standing in all of its glory for Boston Latin School is an honorable school”


The previous paragraph was a parody of sorts (if that is the right word) using a quote from Marc Antony’s famous speech that he made in the play Julius Caesar. In the speech, Marc Antony sarcastically refers to Brutus as an honorable man. The reason for this sarcasm is to expose how many people viewed the conspirators after they assassinated Julius Caesar. Many people came to the defense of Brutus saying that he was an honorable man and Julius Caesar was an evil man who sought to destroy the Roman Republic. I used this quote because, as @razzledazzle8 mentioned, many people were furious at Meggie Noel and Kylie Webster-Cazeau when, back in 2016, they uploaded a video onto Youtube detailing their experiences with Racism at Boston Latin School. I remember when the story first broke out back in 2016. My teacher had encouraged the class to look up the video on youtube, so that was what I did. I remember reading all the comments and seeing many people furious at the fact that the girls were willing to go pretty far to “destroy the reputation BLS had upheld for many years”. This wasn’t the only instance of people trying to use BLS’s reputation to disregard allegations. Ever since BLS has tried to improve diversity from within the school, parents have mentioned how it would blemish the reputation of Boston Latin School and that it would destroy its status as a rigorous school by not allowing for the best of the best to be a part of the school.


I believe the problem with BLS’s lack of diversity has more to do with a problem Boston, and by extension the United States, has been facing for quite some time. As Marc Antony has mentioned, “the evil that men do lives after them” meaning that the malicious acts that we commit are far more likely to have a profound effect on society than benevolent acts. In the case of Boston, the evil that is Racism has been lingering since the early days when the United States was still under the dominion of the British Crown. Back in those days, slavery was still legal and minorities that lived in the US were seen as “less than” when compared to white people. Long after the abolition of slavery, the racist mentally still clinged on to the minds of those who were there when slavery was still a thing. This would cause those in power to ensure that minority groups are not given the opportunities to succeed and economically thrive. We can see the effects of this today as many minority groups are economically not as prosperous as white people. As a result, it’s harder for parents of black and brown children to provide them with the resources necessary to allow them to do well on the ISEE and get into BLS. It also makes it harder for minorities to be admitted into private schools as it would be a major burden on their parents.


Another issue that faces Boston which has had an impact on BLS’s diversity has to do with many public schools in Boston. Prior to going to BLS I went to a middle school that, looking back at it, was almost the complete opposite of BLS. Unlike BLS, which is known for being one of the best schools in Boston, my old middle school was known for being one of the worst schools in Boston. It had some of the worst MCAS scores, it lacked proper funding, the school population was small, and it was nowhere near as challenging as BLS. If it weren’t for programs like Steppingstone, I doubt that I’d have the proper resources necessary to score high enough on the ISEE to get accepted into BLS. Even with Steppingstone, I found my transition to BLS to be a rough one as my old middle school did not prepare me for the amount of work I would be expected to do once I entered the 7th grade. The only similarity that my old middle school shared with BLS is that both schools had issues with diversity. In the case of BLS, there is a lack of Black and Latinx children. With my old middle school, there were barely any white and asian and 64% of the population was black. In a lot of BPS schools, more specifically schools where the majority of students come from a lower socioeconomic background, the schools are not challenging students as much making them less prepared for schools like BLS. The education gap between public and private schools is apparent and something needs to be done about this.


BLS’s lack of diversity plays a major role in the social climate that exists at the school. What happened to Meggie Noel and Kylie Webster-Cazeau is not new to minorities at the school. Given BLS’s previous attempts at making the school more diverse, it has likely led to many people today questioning whether some people truly deserve to come to this school. BLS’s environment is one where many kids who go to this school likely come from the same three or four neighborhoods. These neighborhoods, in question, house a population where the majority of people living there are either white or asian. When I moved from my old middle school to BLS, the idea of being at a place where not a lot of people looked like me was quite frightening. Still, I was able to find a lot of people who do look like me, and I was exposed to many different cultures. Why do I mention this? It is possible that this exposure to people with different backgrounds is what leads many to act out in a racist manner. A lot of teachers and faculty at this school were once students, and they grew up in a similar environment to the one BLS has today. This also probably plays a role in that teachers might not be so quick to recognize when acts of racism are being committed on school grounds. If I remember correctly, the two girls who started #BlackAtBLS mentioned in their video that the administration wouldn’t do anything about the allegations that were being brought to them.


As mentioned before, a lot of faculty members were once students at BLS and this likely has an impact on their views of the school. Today, BLS claims that it is doing everything it can to ensure the environment is safe, and that no student ever feels uncomfortable to be at the school. However, given my, as well as many other students’ experiences at this school, it doesn’t feel as though that is the case. Some students today argue that BLS is doing everything it can to hide allegations of racism under the rug so that they don’t have another #BlackAtBLS event. For example, I once reported an incident involving me and another student where a student had called me a racial slur. Originally, I decided against reporting it to the school arguing they won’t really do anything about it. After some convincing from my friends, I decided to report it to my guidance counselor. The following day, she pulled me out of class so that I could talk about the incident. The school had told me that they were going to set up a meeting with my parents and the parents of the kid who called me a racial slur. The school told me that they were going to take this incident seriously and they’ll update me and my parents about it. That was the last I heard from the school about that incident. For a while, I was left wondering if they even did anything about the incident, and if the other student involved was punished. It wasn’t until a few days later that I found out that the other student was in fact punished. Another student at the school, who was in one of my classes, told me that the kid who called me a racial slur was given one day of in-school suspension. What really angered me about this wasn’t the kind of punishment he received, even though I believed he deserved worse, but it was that neither me nor my parents were made aware about this. I had to find this information out from another student who happened to know the student that called me a racial slur. I had to tell my parents what happened to the kid since the school didn’t update them on the situation. The BLS administration wonders why not many kids come forward to report incidents such as the one that happened to me, but I think many students can see why.


What can BLS do in the future? If they actually took these events seriously, it could help out tremendously. They can’t simply hide things under the rug forever expecting them to go away. Someday, someone like Meggie Noel and Kylie Webster-Cazeau will have had enough with BLS and the way they’re handling incidents at the school. They’ll likely express their frustrations online where they’re more likely to be heard. I feel as though if and when that time comes, it might prove to be even worse for BLS than what happened back in 2016. Or perhaps I’m wrong and BLS will find a way to sweep that under the rug as well. Only time will tell.


Will trying to make BLS a more diverse place lead to its downfall, as some people fear? I believe that if BLS doesn’t do anything about its social climate, no amount of diversity will fix that and that may lead to the school’s downfall. For the sake of BLS, I hope those in charge realize what they’re doing wrong and they fix the issue before it is too late. Before a great light shines above the evil the roams the hallways to expose what BLS has been hiding.

Dolphin42
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 27

Racism in Exam School Admission

I believe that race shouldn’t be an obstacle to getting a good education and it shouldn’t be one of the boxes in the attendance sheet. I have known that the racism imbalance at BLS existed and it has derived from the lack of resources available to the minorities such as Black and Latinx students in BPS. However, there are many factors that might result in low test scores, according to There’s something wrong with the exam school tests — not with Black and Latinx children written by Ibram X. Kendi, “lower test scores from Black and Latinx students have been explained by their environment: Their supposedly broken cultures, homes, schools, and families have made them intellectually inferior.” When I was in elementary school, my friends from other classes didn’t even know that exam schools existed let alone applying for the ISEE. Not every school follows the same curriculums. Some schools are defunded, which causes the students to fall behind in their academics compared to other affluent schools. While making the admission process “more just” can help increase the opportunities available to Black and Latinx students, it doesn’t solve the problem of inequality within the education system. I fear that if disadvantaged students from the underfunded schools were to attend an exam school like BLS, they will risk falling behind the rigorous curriculums. I agree that changing the admission to be 20% based on grades and 80% based on GPA and zip code will “allow our exam schools to more closely reflect the racial and economic makeup of Boston.” But that is not enough to change the educational inequality in Boston.

When I was preparing for the ISEE, I did attend a paid ISEE prep program in addition to the ISEE program offered at BLS. The program was expensive and I acknowledge that not everyone is able to afford it which means that the students who were able to go to these programs had an advantage over the students who weren’t able to go. However I don’t consider my family as well-off, the tuition for the program was more than a tenth of my mother’s monthly salary. But she still wanted me to get into one of these prestigious schools so that I can have more opportunities in the future. I think that it is impossible to completely get rid of the inequality in the education system. A possible solution to provide equal opportunities for everyone is to ensure that every BPS student gets the opportunity to learn about what the exam schools have to offer. In addition, BPS should provide courses that better prepares them for high school in general, not just for exam schools.

In terms of the learning about racism at BLS, I agree with 239bid0073 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.” We shouldn’t just learn about the racist history of Boston and of the exam school admission system in 11th grade. This lesson should be first thing that the incoming 7th graders learn at BLS. Also, it’s interesting to see what the racial demographic of BLS is going to look like when the students are admitted with the new exam schools policies. I think that admitting students according to zip code instead of the test is going to make BLS a lot more diverse, which I’m really excited to see.

Regina_Phalange
Boston, Massachussetts
Posts: 27

BLS is Racist

Boston Latin School’s demographics this school year are 45% white, 30% asian, 13% hispanic, 8% black, and .08% indigenous. However, walking around Boston, these are not accurately representative of the make-up of our city. I’m tired of bipoc getting the short end of the stick. If a child is poor and lives in a poor neighborhood, they will get inadequate education which can really impact their future. If a white child lives in a rich neighborhood and they don’t get into an exam school, they will be fine because they will have a school with enough resources and ultimately be able to go to college. Therefore, I think that the choice to get rid of the ISEE completely and just base the decisions of who gets into the exam schools should be based on grades and merit while also giving priority to low income students. At the end of the day low income students need that admission more because they don’t have something to fall back on. They’d probably have to go to a school with budget cuts and insufficient teachers. In the article by Ibram X. Kendi, they argued how inaccessible test-prep is to low income black and hispanic students and how that then makes the exam schools out of reach for many of them. Getting rid of the ISEE would be a start to opening the doors of the exam schools and make them more accessible. I can say from personal experience that I did a lot of test prep before taking the ISEE. I recognize that many students didn’t have that. I also know from my experience how difficult it is being a school desperately lacking diversity. Once I got into BLS I thought that it was a clear path ahead but it is so difficult being one of the only black kids there.


Regarding changes about the actual education at BLS, I think there should be more in depth history on bipoc. It’s so unfortunate that I only learned about John Lewis and many other bipoc heroes my junior year of high school. I agree completely with Razzledazzle8 that BLS needs to take responsibility for its racist past and actually push for change. I think that there should also be more done on the part of white students regarding racial equity in our school. I think that bipoc often feel like they have to carry that burden by having to educate the white people at our school. They should also carry the burden. BLS needs to be more welcoming to bipoc.

ThankYouFive
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 31

BLS should be an opportunity school

I wholeheartedly support the changes made to the entrance process for the Boston exam schools, including BLS. While I directly benefited from the “legal cheating” that is paying for a tutor in the months leading up to the ISEE, I believe that the new policy is an incredibly positive change for the students of Boston Public Schools, and that this change will promote even more progress made in the fight for an equitable education system. Although this solution is supposedly temporary and meant to address the problems that arise with the ISEE due to the pandemic, I think that the solution should be made permanent, because it is a far better system than the one we currently have, which actively benefits those students whose families have more wealth.


The truth is, many of us at BLS have benefited from these racist and inequitable policies. One only needs to look at the statistics to see that there are far higher percentages white students at Boston Latin School and the other exam schools than at the other schools in BPS. The people who come here often attend private elementary schools that prepare them for the ISEE far better than public schools in Boston do, since BPS doesn’t have the same resources and funds available at those elite private schools. The wealthy adults who have graduated from BLS often send their children to private schools and then send them to BLS, continuing the cycle of injustice that exists in our exam schools, but especially BLS.


I chose to read Dr. Ibram X Kendi’s article discussing the changes made to the exam school entrance policy, and after reading it, my belief that BLS isn’t doing enough to give opportunities to children who have been oppressed by Boston’s unfair and discriminatory education systems has only grown. Kendi says that exam schools should be called opportunity schools because of the opportunities they can give to students of color and poor students, and I also think that they should be called opportunity schools because BLS should be giving mandatory classes, workshops, and assemblies regarding racism, equity, and how people can become anti-racists. Some people may think that this is a waste of time, but it has become quite apparent that people in Boston either don’t know enough about these important topics, or that they purposefully choose to ignore them because it is easier than confronting their own prejudices and privileges.


The most interesting part of Kendi’s article, in my opinion, is the concept of legal cheating. Legal cheating is when people with privilege take advantage of a system that is meant to promote equality, and when it becomes apparent that the privileged people are twisting this system for their own benefit and a more equitable solution is proposed, they complain that the new system is unfair and discriminates against their group of people. Unfortunately, it isn’t illegal to do this, and this problem can be seen all throughout America, not just BPS.


In the future, I would not only like to see BLS and other exam schools become beacons of opportunity for those who have never had such opportunity, but also homes for learning about the difficult problems that we in Boston, America, and the world face, and how we can fight them.

ThankYouFive
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 31

Originally posted by Wyverary on December 03, 2020 23:34

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.


I completely agree with you and Chester Finn that one of the key problems is that the difference between the exam schools and the other schools in BPS is far too large. Rather than continuing to pour so much money and resources into the exam schools, we should give them to the schools in Boston that are struggling most. By doing this, we could enhance the learning of those who actually need the help, rather than those who don't.

coral27
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 25

Deep Issues Under Surface Arguments

The recent debate over Boston Latin School is very clearly shaped by the same problems and attitudes that Boston dealt with almost 50 years ago. This is not an issue of what the district considers when a student is in 6th or 9th grade. It is an issue of everything that has happened before the point of application to exam schools. If we ignore what is happening in Boston’s neighborhoods and elementary schools and focus on admission to exam schools, we are not addressing the actual problem.


I see residential racial segregation as one of the biggest problems Boston faces today and an obvious remnant of our history with race. I think it is responsible for much of the inequality we see in schools today. Under perfect conditions, neighborhood schools would be excellent for the community. Bussing takes away from valuable class time, student time, and teacher time. But we cannot remove it when there are such disparities in schools between neighborhoods and such extreme residential segregation. In addition, students are not just shaped by the school they attend. Neighborhoods and schools need resources such as guidance counselors and community programs to address challenges children face.


So, in the absence of a transformation of the way our city is set up, what can we do to improve BLS’ system? It was clear that administering a test on content not even taught in many schools was unfair. This was explained well by @butterfly123, who discussed the issue of the test’s content and the resultant “legal cheating,” as well as issues with the way it was administered that left some parents in the dark.


To be completely honest, after investigating the new admissions system outside of class, I am still confused about how it works, which means many parents will also be confused. I think it was a good choice to factor in ZIP code instead of race. But I disagree with the decision to include MCAS, because it just replaces one test with another, one that students are generally told won’t “count” for anything. GPA can also be an issue because of grade inflation.


Frankly, this topic leaves me torn in many ways. I alternate between ways of thinking all the time. For example, should there be a small, limited number of seats for students coming from non-BPS schools? I want to say yes, but then I have to consider, should parents be “punished” for trying to provide their children with a good education? But who is really being “punished” in this situation? Parents with fewer resources.


Clearly our school does not have a good relationship with race. The demographics absolutely shape this. Of course students feel more comfortable saying racial slurs and behaving in similarly unacceptable ways in a school with a tiny minority of black and Latino students, versus a school that reflects BPS’ demographics. I think there needs to be a schoolwide initiative to include discussions about race in the curriculum of non-elective, lower-classmen classes, similar to the unit in Ms. Arnold’s 8th grade history class, if anyone from the Lambda cluster remembers. As many other students have said, all BLS students (and maybe parents too) should be shown what we were shown these past few weeks. Not to shame anyone, but to tell them the truth, whatever the implications may be.

finn2510
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 24

How To Change The Narrative

Like many of us said in class yesterday, this is a topic that greatly affects our school and the reputation we have. Not talking about it and brushing it off only sweeps it further under the rug. I believe that, if we want to promote actual change, we need to talk about racism in our school more often and come up with a permanent plan. This is absolutely a temporary solution, a band-aid if you will. This is just the tip of the iceberg regarding new changes and policies that need to be implemented.


I find the statistics at the beginning of this discussion to be deeply troubling. No school located in a city as diverse as Boston should be able to get away with nearly half of the student body being made up of a single race. Period.


Regarding what we learn here, I believe that we should incorporate more history on other parts of the world and go into detail abotu the history of slavery and the treatment of Black people in the United States. Even though it is a harsh topic, it is crucial to understand the ties to racism our school and city have. Promoting classes such as Facing History and African American History would be pivotal. I remember reflecting on my time in World History 1 and AP World History, classes that spoke briefly about achievements in Africa and the slave trade, but were obviously centered on Europe and history there, which is interesting given it is World History.


@239bid0073 brings up an interesting point that maybel BLS isn’t a public school after all. Prior to learning more about this problem and reading Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s article, I would refuse to believe that BLS is anything other than a public school (I mean have you seen our bathrooms?). But now, with the new knowledge I have, I do believe that BLS is not a public school after all. Students hoping to be accepted are encouraged to participate in extensive test prep, that Dr. Kendi reveals “are concentrated in white and Asian neighborhoods.” These discrepancies are so obvious, and extremely unfair. Not only do these centers sit in specific areas around the city, they are insanely expensive. I was lucky enough to prepare for the test through an educational program in my neighborhood, but many do not have access to this luxury.


Because my parents have ties to it, I have spent the past few years watching the televised school committee meetings. While BLS is particularly bad, this is not the only school that negatively affects black students’s growth in the classroom. With the news in 2019 about the closing of West Roxbury Academy, the response from the students was impossible to ignore. Although it is in West Roxbury, the school’s student body was 93% black. And the reason for the school’s closure? Not enough resources. My father reported to me that the roof of the school was so damaged it was starting to fall apart.


Finally, as someone with a younger sibling in 6th grade hoping to attend BLS, I have been increasingly worried about the new process and how it plays out. Without a doubt, I know that this change is momentous and is definitely moving towards greater change, but I can’t help but worry for her.

coral27
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 25

Originally posted by Hector_Zeroni on December 04, 2020 11:22

“So let it be with Meggie Noel and Kylie Webster-Cazeau. The noble Boston Latin School and a sizable portion of its supporters hath told that those women were ambitious: If their allegations of racism were true, it was obviously a one time thing and grievously hath Meggie Noel and Kylie Webster-Cazeau worked to destroy the reputation of BLS. Here, lies the school standing in all of its glory for Boston Latin School is an honorable school”


The previous paragraph was a parody of sorts (if that is the right word) using a quote from Marc Antony’s famous speech that he made in the play Julius Caesar. In the speech, Marc Antony sarcastically refers to Brutus as an honorable man. The reason for this sarcasm is to expose how many people viewed the conspirators after they assassinated Julius Caesar. Many people came to the defense of Brutus saying that he was an honorable man and Julius Caesar was an evil man who sought to destroy the Roman Republic. I used this quote because, as @razzledazzle8 mentioned, many people were furious at Meggie Noel and Kylie Webster-Cazeau when, back in 2016, they uploaded a video onto Youtube detailing their experiences with Racism at Boston Latin School. I remember when the story first broke out back in 2016. My teacher had encouraged the class to look up the video on youtube, so that was what I did. I remember reading all the comments and seeing many people furious at the fact that the girls were willing to go pretty far to “destroy the reputation BLS had upheld for many years”. This wasn’t the only instance of people trying to use BLS’s reputation to disregard allegations. Ever since BLS has tried to improve diversity from within the school, parents have mentioned how it would blemish the reputation of Boston Latin School and that it would destroy its status as a rigorous school by not allowing for the best of the best to be a part of the school.


I believe the problem with BLS’s lack of diversity has more to do with a problem Boston, and by extension the United States, has been facing for quite some time. As Marc Antony has mentioned, “the evil that men do lives after them” meaning that the malicious acts that we commit are far more likely to have a profound effect on society than benevolent acts. In the case of Boston, the evil that is Racism has been lingering since the early days when the United States was still under the dominion of the British Crown. Back in those days, slavery was still legal and minorities that lived in the US were seen as “less than” when compared to white people. Long after the abolition of slavery, the racist mentally still clinged on to the minds of those who were there when slavery was still a thing. This would cause those in power to ensure that minority groups are not given the opportunities to succeed and economically thrive. We can see the effects of this today as many minority groups are economically not as prosperous as white people. As a result, it’s harder for parents of black and brown children to provide them with the resources necessary to allow them to do well on the ISEE and get into BLS. It also makes it harder for minorities to be admitted into private schools as it would be a major burden on their parents.


Another issue that faces Boston which has had an impact on BLS’s diversity has to do with many public schools in Boston. Prior to going to BLS I went to a middle school that, looking back at it, was almost the complete opposite of BLS. Unlike BLS, which is known for being one of the best schools in Boston, my old middle school was known for being one of the worst schools in Boston. It had some of the worst MCAS scores, it lacked proper funding, the school population was small, and it was nowhere near as challenging as BLS. If it weren’t for programs like Steppingstone, I doubt that I’d have the proper resources necessary to score high enough on the ISEE to get accepted into BLS. Even with Steppingstone, I found my transition to BLS to be a rough one as my old middle school did not prepare me for the amount of work I would be expected to do once I entered the 7th grade. The only similarity that my old middle school shared with BLS is that both schools had issues with diversity. In the case of BLS, there is a lack of Black and Latinx children. With my old middle school, there were barely any white and asian and 64% of the population was black. In a lot of BPS schools, more specifically schools where the majority of students come from a lower socioeconomic background, the schools are not challenging students as much making them less prepared for schools like BLS. The education gap between public and private schools is apparent and something needs to be done about this.


BLS’s lack of diversity plays a major role in the social climate that exists at the school. What happened to Meggie Noel and Kylie Webster-Cazeau is not new to minorities at the school. Given BLS’s previous attempts at making the school more diverse, it has likely led to many people today questioning whether some people truly deserve to come to this school. BLS’s environment is one where many kids who go to this school likely come from the same three or four neighborhoods. These neighborhoods, in question, house a population where the majority of people living there are either white or asian. When I moved from my old middle school to BLS, the idea of being at a place where not a lot of people looked like me was quite frightening. Still, I was able to find a lot of people who do look like me, and I was exposed to many different cultures. Why do I mention this? It is possible that this exposure to people with different backgrounds is what leads many to act out in a racist manner. A lot of teachers and faculty at this school were once students, and they grew up in a similar environment to the one BLS has today. This also probably plays a role in that teachers might not be so quick to recognize when acts of racism are being committed on school grounds. If I remember correctly, the two girls who started #BlackAtBLS mentioned in their video that the administration wouldn’t do anything about the allegations that were being brought to them.


As mentioned before, a lot of faculty members were once students at BLS and this likely has an impact on their views of the school. Today, BLS claims that it is doing everything it can to ensure the environment is safe, and that no student ever feels uncomfortable to be at the school. However, given my, as well as many other students’ experiences at this school, it doesn’t feel as though that is the case. Some students today argue that BLS is doing everything it can to hide allegations of racism under the rug so that they don’t have another #BlackAtBLS event. For example, I once reported an incident involving me and another student where a student had called me a racial slur. Originally, I decided against reporting it to the school arguing they won’t really do anything about it. After some convincing from my friends, I decided to report it to my guidance counselor. The following day, she pulled me out of class so that I could talk about the incident. The school had told me that they were going to set up a meeting with my parents and the parents of the kid who called me a racial slur. The school told me that they were going to take this incident seriously and they’ll update me and my parents about it. That was the last I heard from the school about that incident. For a while, I was left wondering if they even did anything about the incident, and if the other student involved was punished. It wasn’t until a few days later that I found out that the other student was in fact punished. Another student at the school, who was in one of my classes, told me that the kid who called me a racial slur was given one day of in-school suspension. What really angered me about this wasn’t the kind of punishment he received, even though I believed he deserved worse, but it was that neither me nor my parents were made aware about this. I had to find this information out from another student who happened to know the student that called me a racial slur. I had to tell my parents what happened to the kid since the school didn’t update them on the situation. The BLS administration wonders why not many kids come forward to report incidents such as the one that happened to me, but I think many students can see why.


What can BLS do in the future? If they actually took these events seriously, it could help out tremendously. They can’t simply hide things under the rug forever expecting them to go away. Someday, someone like Meggie Noel and Kylie Webster-Cazeau will have had enough with BLS and the way they’re handling incidents at the school. They’ll likely express their frustrations online where they’re more likely to be heard. I feel as though if and when that time comes, it might prove to be even worse for BLS than what happened back in 2016. Or perhaps I’m wrong and BLS will find a way to sweep that under the rug as well. Only time will tell.


Will trying to make BLS a more diverse place lead to its downfall, as some people fear? I believe that if BLS doesn’t do anything about its social climate, no amount of diversity will fix that and that may lead to the school’s downfall. For the sake of BLS, I hope those in charge realize what they’re doing wrong and they fix the issue before it is too late. Before a great light shines above the evil the roams the hallways to expose what BLS has been hiding.

Thank you for sharing your experience. It is really awful that that happened to you but unfortunately I wasn't shocked by how the administration handled it. Anything that “would tarnish our reputation” is kept hush-hush, at the expense of students, which actually damages our reputation and atmosphere. And they wonder what the problem is...

The comments I see on many Youtube videos and news articles about Boston/BLS and race are horrifying. I think they reflect our history and how we haven’t gotten past a lot of the attitudes from decades ago. Attempts to improve equality here are taken as attacks on the city, on white people, on specific neighborhoods. I think the city is resistant to change and this resistance shows up as backlash to people like Noel and Webster-Cazeau or the children being bused into Southie.

Facinghistorystudent
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 18

Exam School refinement

If you ask most people in the greater Boston area of Massachusetts which Public school is the best in Massachusetts, 9 times out of 10 they will say Boston Latin School. Boston Latin School, along with Boston Latin Academy, and The John D. O'bryant makes up the three exam schools in the Boston Public school system.In order to be admitted to one of these schools, you must outrank a certain percentage of people on an exam and have above average grades. This system,however, is deeply flawed and designed to benefit the more financially capable families. With private tutoring, better private elementary schools for preparation and many other factors.

The system clearly needs to be changed, but to what is up in the air. In my opinion, I think that the test should be altered, but remain in place. With the rigorous course load that any of these schools offer, it is unfair to the students to not get some idea of what they are expected to do once admitted. With that being said, a certain percentage of people who excel on the test, should be admitted regardless of finances or zipcode.
The next step in this process is to look at each individual zip code of Boston and assess the top students in those districts. This way the school gets a better well-rounded student body, from all financial backgrounds and districts of Boston.

In response to razzledazzel8, I also believe that we must hold BLS accountable for its racist and biased past. Although many improvements have been made, there is still so much more room for growth that has still yet to happen.

soleilmagic
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

What Should BLS Do?

After reading and going over in class these articles and statistics on race at BLS and BPS schools dating back to the founding of BLS in the 1600’s, I am disturbed and surprised by how little I actually knew. BLS should make it common knowledge to it’s students, the fact that one if not more of the first headmasters owned slaves is so surprising. BLS and Boston’s history itself should be made apart of the curriculum for it’s students, I learn so much about it in my facing class which is an elective, along with the modern Boston class which is also an elective, so many students go without this knowledge of the previous and ongoing horrors at our school.

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, in the article “There’s Something wrong with the Exam School Tests--Not with Black and Latinx Children,” published in the Boston Globe, October 22, 2020, said “By the 1960s, genetic explanations had largely been discredited. Since then, lower test scores from Black and Latinx students have been explained by their environment: 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.” I agree that there is an issue with our current admissions process for the exam schools but I am not sure that it is the exam itself. I believe it is the preparation for the exam and how unprepared some students may be because they don’t have the same opportunities as other students, like private tutoring for example. So I think a good option would be to have all BPS schools provide exam practice therefore all kids have a fair shot with the same access to knowledge, and rather than taking away the portion that makes and exam school an ‘exam school’ this is a better option. The was they chose to do it this year, 2020, it is understandable because of covid-19, but admitting students based on test scores and grades and median income level of their area of Boston? It makes no sense to me and it will allocate for a lot of students not being able to keep up with the rigorous curriculum of an exam school. Again they should implement exam practice at all BPS schools so students have a fair chance.

rhiannon04
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 24

BLS and its' Failure at Accountability

BLS has a consistent history of failing to hold their teachers, students, and the school itself, accountable for its racist past and present. Something I’ve realized is BLS has a tendency to talk about racism like it's something in the past or something that is completely foreign to BLS. This is clearly untrue and even more prevalent now as BPS wrestles with their decision to get rid of the ISEE. The ISEE is not racist in itself, but is harder to pass for those living in low income situations. Students who come from a high income family have access to expensive test preparation and higher level middle schools that give them a much higher chance of getting into the exam schools. A quote from a parent speaking at a School Committee meeting regarding the test emphasizes the unfair advantages that high income families receive. “I won’t tell you I took advantage of the multibillion-dollar test prep industry. 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.” This “legal cheating,” mainly benefits white students which is shown through the school’s racial makeup. In the 2020-2021 school year, Boston Latin School has 44.52% white students compared to only 7.74% black students. Clearly there is a huge disparity in the racial makeup of our school.

Besides the test, I also believe our school fails to acknowledge racism in the school itself. Any student could tell you about a racist incident they have experienced, witnessed, or heard of. I have heard students call my friends horrific things like terrorists or monkeys. It is my personal opinion that BLS allows for this kind of rhetoric because of their lack of accountability and punishment towards this behavior. Students could also tell you of teachers who have said very racially insensitive things with no consequence for their words. The actions of these teachers are widely known through the student body so why haven't these teachers faced any backlash from the administration? In one of the bathrooms, a student wrote something along the lines of “What is the most racist thing you’ve heard a teacher say in class?” This just goes to show how BLS, at times, has an environment where racist actions are deemed okay. In the future, I believe BLS has to have more accountability for its racist past and especially it’s racist present.

PatrickStar36
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 8

Exam School Admission needs to change

Boston Latin School should be more diverse and inclusive. The ethnic make up of the school is different from BPS. 33% of BPS are African American students but only 7.74% of BLS is African American. People should be made aware of this issue and the history of education in Boston should be taught. I don't think much people know that the first headmasters of BLS were slave owners.

The ISEE had information that was not taught in the BPS curriculum. Students who were in better schools or had a tutor would be more prepared for the ISEE. Tutoring and living in better neighborhoods cost money so some people were not able to be one step ahead.

The change in selecting students this year for exams schools is what we need. This change was made because of covid 19 but it should be permanent because disadvantaged students have a better chance at getting accepted into exam schools.

The Boston Latin School should allow people with less opportunities to have a better chance of getting into the school. Schools in less affluent areas are not run as well. Some people do not have the money to hire a tutor. The ISEE test should be removed and instead an equal amount of students with good grades should be selected from each zip code of Boston. If there had to be a test it should be given in school.

._____________.
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15

BLS and Race

Personally I don't believe there is a way of doing BLS admissions in a way that can be completely fair without changing admissions to not make it an exam school or a school that only accepts smarter than average students. I do think BLS is very important in the whole system of Boston Public Schools, the ability to take academics on the level of BLS is both very unique and probably very important for people with the ability to take them. If I hadn't gotten into an exam school I could never imagine myself being even half as educated as I think now so I believe it's important for BLS to have biased acceptance. If BLS did not have biased acceptances do you believe graduating this school would mean anything at all to colleges and beyond. I personally don't, I don't think the honor of going to the first school in America means anything to anyone except for bragging to your friends. I even think the ISEE system is fine personally, I think it not only gauges how smart the prospective students are for going into the school, but for people like me I learned most of the curriculum on it for the test, educating me and preparing me for prealgebra before I even graduated from the year before. If the ISEE is unfair in how it accepts people on race isn't that on the students and not the test? I don't think that the test changes depending on what race you bubble in, if you were able to study hard for the test and you did well why shouldn't you be accepted. This post reminds me a lot of Harvard and their scandal in the way that they are almost exactly the same except Harvard was following through on admitting people based on race while BLS isn't and I'm on the side of BLS. I don't believe creating a diverse school environment is very important to a school versus having as much talent there as possible. One thing that I guess could be nice but also would require a ton of work to administer is to create an optional personal essay to gauge student's talents in a way that isn't just academics.

PineappleMan30
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 16

BLS and Racism

Boston Latin School is not where it should be in terms of racism. There are countless flaws in our system and copious problems we have yet to even acknowledge.

BLS last year had a demographic with nearly 50% of all the students in the school being white. 47.33% of the student population are white, 28.98% Asian, Hispanic 11.76%, 8.13% Black and 3.71 as other. In BPS as a whole district, however, 14% was white. How does less than a quarter of the districts population of white kids make up almost half of our school? Ibram X. Kendi wrote in his article that people who are in agreement with standardized tests, such as the ISEE or MCAS, would not want to discuss racism. I agree with this statement, as it is clear the test cannot be fair. The people with the ability to get a higher education are mostly white children, and they also are able to pass the test with a lot less struggle. Classism is a problem, too. Numerous kids from West Roxbury get into the school, and the people in Westie are able to get a better education than people in Eastie and Dorchester. The amount of money you have actually does affect the school you get into as your education to prior the exam is how you'll get by. The system BLS has implemented for next year, based of the %'s and neighborhood's could work for admissions. I think, for learning, the school should replace sixie year humanities with a mandatory Civics class, and tie civics into ELA for the following years.

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