Wednesday, August 01, 2018
Bring Back Academic Tracking To Help Diversify The Specialized High Schools.
Back in the 60's and 70's every child was tracked academically starting in upper elementary school and when they entered junior high school (grades 7 to 9), they were placed, based on their academic achievement. The smartest students were assigned to Special Placement classes (SP or SPE). The next group were placed in classes 7-1 to 7-4. Academically struggling students were dumped into the lower numbers . like 7-10 to 7-14. By the time the junior high students were eligible to take the SHST, every high achieving student from every junior high school in the City had a fighting chance to be selected to the three specialized high schools, Brooklyn Tech, Bronx high school of Science, and Stuyvesant.
During this time period, all three schools were more diverse. In fact, Brooklyn Tech had a majority minority student population. What changed? Simple, the city eliminated academic tracking when child advocates and minority pressure groups claimed that Black and Latino students were dumped into the lower tracks. Eventually, the City caved and eliminated tracking. The result was that many middle class parents of high achieving students moved to better neighborhoods with better schools, leaving behind lower class parents and less desirable schools.
To make matters worse. The lack of a father in many households, especially in the Black community, resulted in financial insecurity, a lack of discipline, and disrespect which adversely affected academic achievement. With no "gifted and talented" programs and tracking, the schools in lower class neighborhoods were at an academic disadvantage, when compared to the middle class neighborhoods.
Adding to the problem was the influx of East Asian (Chinese, Koren, Japanese) of recent immigrants who emphasized academics to their children. Is it any wonder that the three specialized high schools have an over representation of this cohort?
The bottom line is that to diversify the specialized high schools the City must form a "gifted and talented" program, for every elementary school and tracking for the middle schools.