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.