There just are not enough good schools to go around

Monday, May 8th, 2017

This recent New York Times piece on “the broken promises of choice” in New York City schools is so willfully naive it’s painful:

Within the system, there is a hierarchy of schools, each with different admissions requirements — a one-day high-stakes test, auditions, open houses. And getting into the best schools, where almost all students graduate and are ready to attend college, often requires top scores on the state’s annual math and English tests and a high grade point average.

Those admitted to these most successful schools remain disproportionately middle class and white or Asian, according to an in-depth analysis of acceptance data and graduation rates conducted for The New York Times by Measure of America, an arm of the Social Science Research Council. At the same time, low-income black or Hispanic children like the ones at Pelham Gardens are routinely shunted into schools with graduation rates 20 or more percentage points lower.

While top middle schools in a handful of districts groom children for competitive high schools that send graduates to the Ivy League, most middle schools, especially in the Bronx, funnel children to high schools that do not prepare them for college.

The roots of these divisions are tangled and complex. Students in competitive middle schools and gifted programs carry advantages into the application season, with better academic preparation and stronger test scores. Living in certain areas still comes with access to sought-after schools. And children across the city compete directly against one another regardless of their circumstances, without controls for factors like socioeconomic status.

Ultimately, there just are not enough good schools to go around. And so it is a system in which some children win and others lose because of factors beyond their control — like where they live and how much money their families have.

We send the kids with good grades and test scores to the selective schools and the kids with bad grades and test scores to the unselective schools, and that’s clearly unfair, because those unselective schools underperform the selective schools!

There just are not enough good schools to go around.


  1. Night Boat to Cairo says:

    It’s like the Magic Dirt theory, but for Magic Schools.

  2. Mostly Cajun says:

    The problem isn’t that we need better schools, it’s that we need better students.

    When students are raised in ‘homes’ where education is not a priority, where stability and good work ethic are not valued, they have little hope of picking up an education no matter how dedicated a teaching staff the school holds.

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