Boston’s Folly: Eliminating Examination Schools for Zip Code Schools

Well as they say only in Boston. I assume you have read if you are from the Boston areas that for next year admission to Boston Latin, Boston Latin Academy and the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science which prior to now has been through the route of taking of an examination will be changed. They refer to these schools as examination schools for the precise reason mentioned that to be admitted you have to achieve a high grade on an examination.  The goal of most students is to get into the cream of the crop Boston Latin with the others having much less prestige.

The new way of getting into the schools will by having zip codes replace the examinations along with some other criteria. Now my question is can we call these schools examination schools if they do not require an examination? Should they now be called zip code schools?

The reason proffered for this change is the pandemic. Yes, despite Trump’s assertions it is still here. Boston just recently stopped experimenting with the school children by having in-person learning and returned back to remote learning until at some point in the future when the virus simmers down a bit. I suppose if the Boston School Committee really wanted to keep the examinations tests it could have done so be conducting them in such a manner that would ensure there would be almost no chance of contracting Covid. Rather than doing that it decided to go the other way.

The real reason for the change is the predominance of white and Asian school children in Boston Latin and the scarcity of Black and Latino school children, especially the Latino. By injecting a zip code requirement then the outcome will be to produce schools that more closely resemble the makeup of the city. This allegedly will give the students now woefully underrepresented a chance to attend the three top schools while depriving others who previously may have been admitted of that opportunity.

Of necessity, the standard of teaching will have to change. Admitted to these schools will be students who otherwise would not have been admitted. Rather than getting the cream of the crop these schools will be getting close to what the district high schools are getting. These zip schools will not be turning out the best and the brightest but the nearly best and brightest. The question that must be answered is whether the diminution in the student body will affect the reputations of the schools.

Now I do not think a Black or Latino student is less intelligent than a white or Asian student. I believe given an even field there is no difference among races with some having very bright members and down the line. So that there is this great disparity that exists in the present day examination schools to me it is clear that the Blacks and Latinos are being handicapped in certain ways when it comes to taking the examinations. My question is do we know what this is or is it as I assume a combination of things.

Off the cuff I assume with Hispanic students in part it may be a language barrier. How will that play out when one so encumbered is put in one of the better schools? But what else plays into this? I  suggest skipping over this, that is failing to understand what is at play that has brought about the discrepancy in the racial makeup of the examination schools is hiding the problem under a rug.

Should not that which exists and results in the imbalance be addressed first? Or is it so ingrained or cemented that nothing can be done about it? The solution now being proposed by the Boston School Committee is a cop out. It allows it to overlook the real problem for a facile solution that may irreparably damage the reputation of fine schools.

Back in the early 1970s I represented the Boston School Committee before Judge Garrity in the federal court. At one point in his zealousness he toyed with the idea of doing away with examination schools but somehow his better angels dissuaded him from doing that. My advocacy certainly didn’t. Off and on over the years there have been attempts to do this but to no avail. Finally it is being done under a pretense. The City of Boston is that much the lesser for it.

16 thoughts on “Boston’s Folly: Eliminating Examination Schools for Zip Code Schools

  1. Matt

    Last year I had a chance to sit down and re -interview
    Bill Ayers at Colby College in Waterville Maine for
    the Rob Shetterly doc

    He has been teaching there during inter-session for
    several years.
    A quick review of his background as a educator

    Bill Ayers
    Educational Theorist, Professor, Writer, Anti-War and Civil Rights Activist : b. 1944
    There is, after all, no basis for education in a democracy outside of a faith in the enduring capacity for growth in ordinary people and a faith that ordinary people … can, if they choose, change the world.“

    William Charles (Bill) Ayers considers himself “a work in progress, swimming through a sea of contradictions.” He believes that whatever he says about anyone else or what anyone says about him, “should be thought of as partial, contingent, unfinished, and doubtful as a useful summary.”

    Ayers is known both for his 1960s activism opposing the Vietnam War and racial injustice, as well as his current work in education reform, curriculum, and instruction. One summary of Ayers’ life would include acts that put him on the FBI’s list of most wanted criminals and led to a life in hiding before surrendering to authorities and having those charges dropped. Another summary would include a lifetime of activism and public service for the benefit of the underprivileged. His is not a simple story.

    Ayers studied primary education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. At 21, he was a co-founder and director of the Children’s Community School, which was modeled after the Freedom Schools of the Southern Black Freedom Movement. The CCS co-founders believed that children learn best in a non-judgmental environment. They encouraged cooperation rather than competition, wanting to create a good model for an integrated school. “Not only do we have black and white kids in the same school,” Ayers said, “but we don’t make any value judgments about either of those groups of kids, because making value judgments turns out to be racist.” Much of Ayers’ subsequent educational philosophy was drawn from his experiences at CCS.

    In the mid-1960s, Ayers became involved in the New Left and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), rising to national prominence as an SDS leader in 1968 and 1969. The mission of SDS was to influence the U.S. political system in order to achieve international peace and remove the threat of nuclear war. In domestic matters, it sought to eliminate racial discrimination and economic inequality, and to increase the power and prominence of trade unions.

    In June 1969, Weatherman, an SDS splinter group, took control of SDS at its national convention and Ayers was elected Education Secretary. In 1970, Ayers and others created underground collectives in major cities throughout the country and became known as The Weather Underground. They planned and carried out several bombings, including one on the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., the Pentagon, and police stations.

    As fugitive members of The Weather Underground, Ayers and fellow activist Bernardine Dohrn married and began having children. Not wanting their kids to grow up in hiding, they eventually decided to turn themselves in. By the time their case would have gone to trial, government attorneys requested that all charges be dropped due to the illegal tactics used by the FBI to gather evidence against them.

    The Weather Underground has been accused of being a terrorist group, but Ayers disagrees, making a distinction between terrorism and vandalism. “We weren’t terrorists…we did not commit random acts of terror against people. Terrorism was what was being practiced by the United States in the countryside of Vietnam where thousands of people were being killed every week.” He said, “While we did claim several extreme acts, they were acts of extreme vandalism against property,” adding, “We killed no one and hurt no one.”

    After coming out of hiding, Ayers returned to education, obtaining Masters Degrees from Bank Street College, Teachers College at Columbia University, and Bennington College, and his doctorate at Columbia. He joined the College of Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago in 1987 and became Distinguished Professor of Education in 1999, a position he held through 2010. He is the founder of the Small Schools Workshop and the Center for Youth and Society.

    Ayers has written numerous books and articles, on societal equity and peace and the “enduring capacity for growth in ordinary people.” Some of his books are:On the Side of the Child: Summerhill Revisited; Prairie Fire: The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism; Fugitive Days: Memoirs of and Anti-War Activist; Handbook of Social Justice in Education; and Race Course: Against White Supremacy.

    According to Ayers, “Social justice…requires full recognition of the humanity of each person, and this requires an entirely new kind of education, one geared toward transformation rather than transmission. Transformative education asks students to become artists, actors, activists, and authors of their own lives. To change themselves, to make the world their own.”

    Ayers lives in his hometown of Chicago with his wife, Bernardine, and their three children Zayd, Malik and Chesa.

    In my interview with Bill he discussed his life long commitment
    to improving early childhood education in grades 1-12 .

    I will leave you with a link
    for Bill Ayers podcasts.

    Also see

    Why They’re Called Lab Scabs

  2. Did you work with Dr. Robert Dentler in those days? (He wrote a counter-point response to “Common Ground”? (Which he says nobody read.) He was in charge of assignments and reported to Garrity.)

  3. See link below. Asian IQ’s run, on average, a half standard statistical deviation above white IQ’s, Latino IQ’s run, on average, a half standard statistical deviation below white IQ’s, and black IQ’s, on average, run a half standard statistical deviation below Latino IQ’s. This has been known since at least the Second World War. It will show up in internet searches. But no one wants to talk about it.. This is a terrible societal mistake. Expectations need to be recalibrated. The truth would set us free.

  4. Matt

    What are we going to do?
    Does this mean the FBI and NSA have to look
    outside the USA to hire new recruits?


    Time for news and nouns at 6…..

    US STASI to Allow Local, State Police to Wear Body Cameras During Task Force Arrests

    DOJ official confirms FBI 2019 criminal investigation into Hunter Biden, still active

    October 29th 2020

    Oct 30, 2020,07:26am EDT
    Billy Walters Files Lawsuit Against FBI Leaker And US Attorney Team Who Covered It Up

    Coronavirus infection rate in U.S. is now faster than 1 case per second, as cases surge in 47 states

    OCT 30, 2020 AT 11:45 AM

    Good Will Hunting (10/12) Movie CLIP – The NSA (1997)

  5. Lowell High School in San Francisco is the ‘academic’ public school where Asian and Jewish students excelled.

    The SFUSD eventually came up with a race-based point system to attract more black and Latino students in order to meet a consent decree. Asian (specifically Chinese American) and white applicants would thus have to score significantly higher on the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills and have a higher GPA than students of other races to gain acceptance under this new admissions policy. This has led to students from Willie Brown Elementary, a bottom 5% academic school, being admitted to Lowell.

    They’re now considering a lottery system, which would water down the meritocracy.

  6. Do we know what causes these differences in academic attainment? Sure! But it isn’t politically correct to discuss basic, alarming differences in getting to an “even field”. Same teachers, same schools & books, side by side, and Asian students from sometimes horrible backgrounds excel.

    A similiar situation occurred in Shaker Heights, Cleveland, maybe two decades ago, where black students of a roughly similiar economic background (middle class) dramatically underscored on tests, compared to their white counterparts. Why?

    Black parents sought out Dr. Ogbu, an anthropology professor from UC Berkeley. I believe at one point he had authored a study about how top African American students accused of “acting white” purposefully messed up in order to gain some likability with fellow black students.

    Dr. Ogbu wasn’t interested, he declined. He wasn’t a sociologist or teacher, he was an anthropologist. They insisted, and he finally relented and agreed to study the situation.

    After months of study and in-person observations, he and his researchers released their preliminary findings. ** Black students spent far less time studying than white students. **

    Secondly, though black parents distrusted the school system, they abdicated the primary responsibility of the education of their children – to the same system!

    Single parent families as the norm is another massive hurdle. Less money, time, safety & supervision. The out of wedlock birth rate in the black community is over 72%, and under 10% in many Asian communities.

    Fourth, I would add discipline, both in school work and behavior. My parents only had a high school education plus some extra credits and schooling (no completed college degrees), but they rode herd on our grammar, school work and behavior daily.

    There are many other related non-racist factors and choices. Out west, it is very common for Chinese and East Indian parents to enroll their children in Saturday school. They book entire high school campuses! Likewise, some of these same students take Chemistry and Physics at the local junior college, before their senior year, so they get a jump on earning an A or A+ in these critical college admissions classes. From what I can tell anecdotally, few African American students even take Calculus or Physics. These minority students could then easily have 1,000 – 2,000 or more extra hours studying after 4 years of high school.

    1. Fifth, I should add peer pressure. If your peers focus on music or sports, guess what you spend your time on?

      P.S. The above parents never replied to Dr. Ogbu’s draft report seeking feedback. When he published his wonky study, they called him an Uncle Tom. Needless to say, a controversial report.

  7. As a alumnus of Peter Faneuil Skool and William Blackstoned escuela
    in the West End I would like to quote from John Dewey, the bartender
    at the Hillbilly Ranch, who once said :

    “When you take the free will out of education, that turns it into schooling.”

    “I’ve noticed a fascinating phenomenon in my thirty years of teaching: schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant to the great enterprises of the planet. No one believes anymore that scientists are trained in science classes or politicians in civics classes or poets in English classes. The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders. This is a great mystery to me because thousands of humane, caring people work in schools as teachers and aides and administrators, but the abstract logic of the institution overwhelms their individual contributions. Although teachers to care and do work very, very hard, the institution is psychopathic — it has no conscience. It rings a bell and the young man in the middle of writing a poem must close his notebook and move to a different cell where he must memorize that humans and monkeys derive from a common ancestor.”
    “Children learn what they live. Put kids in a class and they will live out their lives in an invisible cage, isolated from their chance at community; interrupt kids with bells and horns all the time and they will learn that nothing is important or worth finishing; ridicule them and they will retreat from human association; shame them and they will find a hundred ways to get even. The habits taught in large-scale organizations are deadly.”
    “Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges; it should allow you to find values which will be your roadmap through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die.”

    “What’s gotten in the way of education in the United States is a theory of social engineering that says there is ONE RIGHT WAY to proceed with growing up.”

    “Although teachers do care and do work very, very hard, the institution is psychopathic-it has no conscience. It rings a bell and the young man in the middle of writing a poem must close his notebook and move to a different cell where he must memorize that humans and monkeys derive from a common ancestor.”
    ― John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

    In other curriculums…

    Remember ….vote early vote often

    The Case For Open Voting
    Democracy demands transparency, not trust. Sign up and be counted!
    There is no transparency to our current voting system.  Congress has legalized election fraud by allowing, if not mandating, non-transparent voting systems that prohibit direct access to a paper ballot and meaningful public oversight:
    • ABSENTEE VOTING (1870’s)
    • SECRET BALLOT (1880’s)
    • VOTING MACHINES (1890’s)
    I believe that there should be only one standard of voting for both our political representatives and voters. I believe that all voting should be open and public – no machines, no absentee or early voting, and no secret ballots.  Secret ballots are really an anonymous ballots that corrupt election officials can count any way they want.
    Why one standard of voting for politicians and another for the public?

    Under current circumstances, the only thing candidates and voters can do  to find out how citizens really voted is to conduct their own CITIZEN AUDITS.
    Lynn Landes 

    SUMMATION: This is how, for all practical purposes, America’s voting process became completely nontransparent and highly vulnerable to vote fraud by a relatively small group of people.
    Voting is the linchpin of democracy.  And democracy demands transparency, not trust. Yet, there is no real transparency to the way Americans vote today.  While our politicians are required to vote publicly and openly, we citizens are held to a different standard – a lower standard.  We vote remotely, privately and anonymously by machine, absentee, early, and secret ballot.   It’s an invitation to massive and undetectable vote fraud.  Things weren’t always this way. 
    BEFORE the Civil War, voting was a completely transparent process.  It was only AFTER the Civil War, as the right to vote expanded to African Americans, that the voting process itself began to recede from public view and meaningful oversight.  It started with absentee voting in the 1870’s, secret ballots in the 1880’s, and voting machines in the 1890’s.  Today in America, 50% of all voting is by absentee or early, 95% of all votes are machine-processed, and 100% of all ballots are secret and anonymous. For the sake of convenience and ‘alleged’ voter protection, Congress has destroyed the transparency, verifiability, and integrity of America’s voting process. 
    Making matters worse, our public voting system has been privatized and outsourced to a handful of domestic, foreign, and multi-national corporations, most of whom have close ties to the right wing of the Republican Party. Just two companies, ES&S and Diebold, started by two brothers, Bob and Todd Urosevich, electronically process (using touchscreen machines or optical scanners), 80% of all votes.  Their employees are in a perfect position to rig elections nation-wide. And evidence is mounting that elections in America have been computer programmed to prefer conservative candidates of both political parties. 
    In America, less than 1% of votes are hand-counted-paper-ballots at the polls on Election Day. Neither government-controlled audits nor official recounts (both can occur days or even weeks after the election) provide sufficient transparency to detect widespread election fraud by voting machines companies and/or election officials.  Moreover, the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ), under the 38-year reign of Craig C. Donsanto, refuses to seriously  investigate or prosecute electronic vote fraud. 
    Can’t we detect vote fraud through exit polls?  The major news networks refuse to report on vote fraud and may be implicated in it.  Exit polling is conducted by one organization, currently called the National Election Pool (NEP), that is hired by the major news networks and the Associated Press.  Since they first started “projecting” election night winners in 1964, at the same t

    John Taylor Gatto – The Purpose Of Schooling

  8. “Of necessity, the standard of teaching will have to change. Admitted to these schools will be students who otherwise would not have been admitted. Rather than getting the cream of the crop these schools will be getting close to what the district high schools are getting. These zip schools will not be turning out the best and the brightest but the nearly best and brightest.”

    This reminds me of economist Thomas Sowell’s experience at Cornell:

    “One of the [things] that receives virtually no attention were the serious academic problems of the black students admitted under lower academic standards. How much of their disaffection and alienation was a result of this painfully humiliating fact, obvious to the whites around them, and how much was due to the “racism” that they claimed to see everywhere, is a question that needed exploration, however politically incorrect it might be to discuss such things…

    “…I was sufficiently alarmed by the well-known fact that half of the black students were on academic probation that I went over to the administration building and checked the files. It was here that I first learned of a pattern that would prove to be all too common at elite colleges and universities across the country: Most of the black students admitted to Cornell had SAT scores above the national average—but far below the averages of other Cornell students. They were in trouble because they were at Cornell—and, later, Cornell would also be in trouble because they were there. One of the other omissions in Cornell ’69 is that some academically able black applicants for admission were known to have been turned away, while those who fit the stereotype being sought were admitted with lower qualifications.”

  9. Hello Matt, With the adoption of zip codes for admission to City of Boston Schools and Programs, what effect do you think it will have on Boston’s METCO PROGRAM ? I’m sure there are youngsters from my zip code that would love the opportunity to attend some of those great suburban High Schools. They are presently excluded because of their race! Let’s open everything up for fairness all around! Happy Halloween!

  10. I agree with MTC’s and Paul Mahoney’s expressed concerns.

    The Boston Public Schools Committee’s Task Force supports eliminating entrance exams and considering “geographic and socioeconomic factors” (zip codes) which disguises its obvious race-based criteria: “Task force members are also predicting that these alterations (considering ZIP codes) would increase the percentage of Black, Latino, and multiracial students invited to all three exam schools — the O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science, Boston Latin Academy, and the Boston Latin School — from 40 percent to 51 percent.”

    The Task Force never will outright say “too many Asians and Whites” as it proposes to reduce 60 percent Asians and Whites to 49 percent. The Task Force will not admit it is penalizing some based on race, and rewarding others based on race. BPS says it will in the future consider not just exams, but exams plus other factors (race) to achieve “diversity and equity.”

    The BPS thinks discrimination against Asian children and White children is “justice.” Read Thomas Sowell’s “The Quest for Cosmic Justice”; Sowell says traditional justice is about impartial processes rather than rigged equal outcomes. The BPS should strive to develop fair, impartial processes, but today the BPS plans to rig outcomes.

  11. Meritocracy is now considered as part of the systemic racism that is allegedly
    rampant throughout our educational system.What is really racist is a tacit admission
    by our leaders that non white students should be treated differently than whites.
    The exam is gone and in all likelihood will never return. Does this also mean that
    the academic rigor that has been a hallmark of the exam schools will now also be
    a thing of the past and that students will be offered a far less demanding curriculum?
    Only time will tell .Residents who want a first class educational system for their
    children are very likely to look elsewhere.

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