Shirley Leung of the Globe the former president of the Asian American Journalist Association and a graduate of Princeton wrote an article yesterday the first sentence of which read: “A lot of us didn’t go to Boston Latin, but what’s going on at the prestigious public high school should matter to everyone.”
She tells us how at the black enrollment is at 9% down from “nearly 22 percent two decades ago.” She does not mention that the Asian percentage at BLS has increased at probably the same rate over the same period of time which may account for the drastic decrease in black enrollment. But let us not dwell on that.
Now I’m getting prepared to read about the problems at Boston Latin School (BLS). She writes that the small percentage in enrollment is: “a damning message sent to black families that they don’t belong or are not entitled to the best education and opportunity the city has to offer.” She follows by suggesting that makes it appropriate for the U.S. Attorney to conduct an investigation of BLS.
Then we get a confused message. She tells us that black kids in Boston have better options than the white kids with: “Metco, a state-funded program that buses students to the best suburban public schools. Black kids can get scholarships to private schools. Black kids are going to charter schools.”
On one hand some are not getting the best education but on the other some are receiving it. But she writes: “It all works out. Does anyone really believe this? Now I expect her to tell us why it does not work out. But she doesn’t. She throws in a curve ball moving from education to economics.
She explains: blacks and Hispanics have the “highest rates of unemployment in the city and the lowest levels of education.” It is surprising that out of the blue Hispanics are pulled into the issue when we are talking blacks. Even so, it seems she is stating the obvious that those with the lowest educational levels will have the highest unemployment levels. I’m sure that applies uniformly across the United States so what is the relation to BLS?
She then writes about the median income level of whites (51,000), blacks (29,000) and Hispanics (21.300). (She omits Asians again.) The median income levels in 2006 in the United States for Asians 57,500, whites 48,900, Hispanic 34,200, and black 30,100 seem to roughly approximate the Boston rate.
So I’m sure you are wondering what this has to do with BLS. If you thought “absolutely nothing” I would not say you were wrong.
Now keep in mind Leung told us that the small percentage of black students at BLS justifies the U.S. Attorney’s investigation. Now she says after writing how great BLS is that: “No one is asking Latin to lower its standards in order to diversify.” Then, if you asked what was the point of the article you would be thinking along the same line as I was thinking.
Now she switches to tell us, despite the introduction, BLS is not the problem. It is that: “What needs to change . . . is everything else before sixth grade, the year kids start to apply to Boston Latin and other exam schools.” If that’s the case why is the U.S. Attorney investigating BLS?
Leung tells how many are going about “helping black families navigate the system and expanding the free test preparation program to prepare for entrance exams” That’s good and as it should be but again it has nothing to do with BLS but everything to do with the preparation of black students for BLS in the first six grades.
She ends her column with this: “But to really get there, we have to first recognize that Boston Latin is everyone’s problem.” How does it get to back to being a problem right after she said it wasn’t?
Knowing where she worked and how it is mau-mauing the BLS issue, knowing the community of which she is a part, it seems she was directed by the powers-that-be to write a negative story about BLS but her heart wasn’t in it. As an Asian she knows how valuable BLS is to her community. That’s the best I can figure — especially seeing she is no dummy having graduated from Princeton -– but the tragedy is some people reading her article will think there is a problem that justifies a federal investigation when she is stating the exact opposite.
Nevertheless, you have to admit she did a good job disguising her true feelings from the bosses.