The Context Gap?

Reading Sol Stern’s new City Journal article about whether public schools are shortchanging the “best” students (my view on that whole debate via TIME here) this line caught my eye:

…the percentage of black students passing the admissions test for top-ranked [New York City’s] Stuyvesant High School has dropped steadily over the past decade. Last year, it fell below 1 percent.

I asked a few people including a colleague who is an expert on the city’s high schools about what is going on.  Turns out white students are falling in representation at Stuyvesant, too.  And the high school expert noted that successful enrichment programs to help minority students prepare to do well on the test and at competitive admissions public schools were a casualty of decentralization efforts in New York City.  In other words, perhaps that sad statistic is an argument for exactly the kind of program that some of those now counseling us to focus on high-achievers see as a misplaced emphasis or less than optimal use of resources.

One Reply to “The Context Gap?”

  1. There are a lot of unsubstantiated assertions made in your article. I don’t see how you backed up your argument at all that bright kids are not shortchanged by the current emphasis on proficiency. You state that the Fordham data shows they “did not fare that badly”, whatever that means. It seems like a limp argument.

    From my personal experience with public schools having an elementary-aged child, gifted programs are the first to go when there are budget problems. And it is almost impossible to expand them, despite high demand, because it would be “elitist.” The more affluent kids are fine because they end up in private schools and the ones left behind are the bright but poorer kids. So sad.

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