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Efforts to Diversify Boston’s Elite High Schools Spur Hope and Outrage

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The Hechinger Report released the information after hearing 12-year-old Emily Chan’s story.

What We Know:

  • In Boston, Massachusetts, three public schools require an entrance exam: Boston Latin Academy, Boston Latin School, and the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science. The schools serve grades 7-12. Ninety percent of graduates attend college, a higher percentage than the rest of the district schools. According to state data from 2019, only 55 percent of graduates from other Boston high schools receive a college education.
  • For the first time in sixty years, these institutions are exempting their exam requirement. The change in admissions policy was motivated by the coronavirus pandemic and an effort to diversify the schools. For example, Black and Latino’s students make up 72 percent of the district. However, only 21 percent attend Boston Latin School.
  • The process will award 20 percent of school seats to top-performing Boston scholars based on their GPA. ZIP Codes will determine the other admissions, with a focus on lower-income ZIP Codes. Students had to earn at least a B in English and maths or have scored at or above their grade level in those subjects on state tests.
  • Emily Chan, a sixth-grader, received an invitation to apply to all three schools based on her pre-pandemic academic record. Without any hesitation, she submitted her applications. Chan lives in Boston’s South End. She says she is nervous about the classes’ rigor but is excited to receive a better education. Her parents are immigrants from China who work as a homemaker and cafeteria worker. Chan’s mother, Meifeng Jiang, hopes Chan is accepted to one of the schools to become a doctor one day.

“I just want her to succeed, to have more opportunities,” said Jiang via a Cantonese translator.

  • The one-year decision makes public school desegregation advocates hopeful. However, some people are protesting against it.  Opponents believe that eliminating the tests will destroy the institutions’ competencies. They also believe it will reduce the number of seats available to white and Asian students.
  • Some parents have already sued to stop the change. This week, a trial began in federal court. Darragh Murphy, a woman who attended Boston Latin School in the 1980s, is furious about the action. She thinks the policy wants to degrade academic standards and exclude certain races from the school.
  • The Boston Parent Coalition for Academic Excellence is also upset with the elimination of entrance exams. They are suing Boston Public Schools in U.S. Court, stating that the new policy violates the students’ constitutional rights by using ZIP codes as a basis for race and ethnicity. The lawsuit asks a federal judge to halt the admissions process and demand the academies to accept students solely on their GPA. The elimination of the exam will “artificially favor Latino and African American students to the detriment of Asian and white students,” the suit claims.

Boston Latin Academy, Boston Latin School, and the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science have not responded to the criticisms. The Hechinger Report says that although exam schools guarantee admission into colleges and entrance into a successful career, they are also symbols of disparagement and social inequality. In light of this, many districts around the United States, including Boston, are working to improve educational bias.

The post Efforts to Diversify Boston’s Elite High Schools Spur Hope and Outrage appeared first on Black News Alerts.

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