NEW YORK – Everyone agrees that there aren’t enough black or Hispanic students in New York’s City’s nine elite, specialized high schools.
Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, has an all-too-predictable solution to this problem. In a recently published editorial, he suggests scrapping the test as the sole criteria for admittance for minority students, and recognizing that “these children have talents and abilities that are not reflected solely in their scores on this test,” according to the New York Daily News.
Mulgrew’s solution would accomplish two very bad things.
It would continue to cheat minority students by assuming they lack the ability to improve academically and pass the test, just like other students are expected to do. All kids from all races have innate talents and abilities that may not be obvious in the classroom. The trick is to find a way to help them use those talents to succeed academically.
Talent is common among human beings, and by itself quite worthless. Kids of all colors need to learn that effort combined with talent is the key to success, and there are no shortcuts to making the grade.
Mulgrew’s solution would also help hide the ugly fact that many everyday New York schools, staffed by UFT teachers, are doing a miserable job of preparing bright minority students for possible acceptance into elite schools.
Students who fail to reach their potential are a professional black eye for their teachers, period.
The Daily News published an on-the-mark editorial response to Mulgrew’s despicable suggestion.
“No one has ever demonstrated that the entrance exam is racially or culturally biased,” the editorial says. “Nor has anyone ever figured a better way to compare the academic chops of eighth-graders, apples-to-apples, all across the city than by having them take a single, tough test.
“Trying to use teacher recommendations, interviews and grades to tease out, in Mulgrew’s words, ‘talents and abilities that are not reflected’ on the admissions test would be a wildly subjective exercise in social engineering to meet diversity goals regardless of standards.
“Mulgrew (and the mayoral candidates who support his point of view) confuse a glaring signpost of black and Hispanic underachievement with the phenomenon itself. In the short term, they should focus on improving preparation for the entrance exam among minority students. In the long term, they should accept responsibility for improving performance from kindergarten on – not look for every opportunity to reinforce what was once astutely called the soft bigotry of low expectations.”
By Steve Gunn at EAGnews.org
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