While talent helps, students also need knowledge, expertise and polish to get into dozens of New York City public school arts programs that use auditions and portfolios to screen applicants. Although these schools have largely escaped the rancorous debate over selective admissions policies, they raise many of the same concerns about equity, class and race.
But even if the diversity rationale falls out of favor with the U.S. Supreme Court, New York City’s revamped Discovery program should not. The law that created the program and the manner in which it is applied are class-conscious, not race-conscious. And if the conservative members of the Court ultimately do rule against the City in McAuliffe, they will have demonstrated in plain sight that their support for class-based affirmative action was a rhetorical smokescreen, after all.
This is one of the best “perspective” pieces on the topic yet.
The time has come, I believe, to redefine what it means to be a great public school.
McGraw put it this way: “I don’t know why we’re celebrating a school that’s 97 percent Asian or white as a great school. I don’t know who came up with the idea that that was the definition of a great public school, because I think that a great public school is a school that exposes children to all types of diverse ideas, backgrounds and cultures and pushes them to think critically about the world around them.”
The allure of testing lies in its apparent neutrality—its democratic indifference to a student’s background and wealth. But this is not how the current system functions. Success correlates closely to socioeconomic advantages and access to test preparation. Pricey services offer tutoring to ever younger children. (There is a niche industry of consultants who help two-year-olds ace their preschool admissions assessments.) Yet many defenders of testing believe that more subjective forms of evaluation present their own unfairness.
Outside the neutral language of policy reports, the issue of testing is debated in a context of winners and losers, of model minorities and problematic ones.
An in-depth report on the state of specialized high schools across the nation.
reformers might do better instead to look to Chicago’s use of area-based geographical tiers. One advantage of this system is that it retains the high-stakes entrance examination but takes inequality into account by having students with similar backgrounds compete against each other rather than pooling students from all backgrounds into one group.
The most radical option is for cities to simply abolish their selective high schools.