Two days ago I wrote about tearing down the Symbol of Greatness by Boston’s Taliban and yesterday about the disaster the was Blîss. Both relate to the dilemma that now exists with respect to Boston Latin School (BLS) which was founded in 1635. The enhanced stream that fed it was composed of students who could measure up to its high entering standards; those students were also the foundation upon which it gained its reputation to become the Symbol of Greatness. Had it been constructed in any other way it would not be a matter of contention at this time.
Today’s problem in a nut shell is: because by taking those students who are most qualified to enter it the student body does not reflect the the population of the city or of the city schools. I would have to guess that it never really did. I attended it many years ago in the 7th and 8th grades. I would suggest that the number of Jewish students attending did not reflect the numbers of Jewish households members in the city or its public schools. Not that I knew anyone was Jewish at the time but thinking back there were a lot of boys in my class surreptitiously studying papers that were written in a strange language in preparation for what I now assume was their Bar Mitzvah.
Years later in the early 1970s BLS made an attempt to deliberately exclude Black students as their population was increasing in the city. I was told, and I believe I saw, applications for the school that had the letter “T” in the upper right corner. That letter was a code, supposedly for the word “tan”, which advised the admission office at BLS that it was an application from a Black student. I assume that blatant discrimination stopped when it was disclosed.
Judge Garrity as mentioned toyed around with the idea of including BLS in his desegregation plan. Whether it was his involvement in the petty details such as the type of basketball the students at South Boston High should use or whether it was through pressure from BLS graduates or simply his trying to figure out what he was doing, his attention was diverted from BLS. It has continued up to the present to be fed by a stream of qualified students, now including girls who were not there in the old days.
The problem with the Boston School System is that most of the students at the lower levels turn out to be incredibly inept at academics. Despite years of trying to change by using so called innovation solutions that the problem persists and seems to be increasing. The course that some seem to now favor is to do away with testing these students so there is no way to demonstrate the school system’s failures. It is like Trump’s idea of not testing for Covid-19. If you did not test you could claim the problem was being overhyped.
Because of the failure to produce capable students at the lower levels, and I do not suggest the problem lies solely with the school department, BLS does not have many students from which to select for its incoming classes. Those that do measure up to its standards are those who are White and Asian. These students who are well prepared academically will grow during their six years in an environment that stresses education. They will be able to keep BLS as it now is which is a Symbol of Greatness in Education.