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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Exodus: Achievers' families are leaving

As many New York City middle schools end selective admissions, middle- and upper-middle-class parents are considering private schools or a move to the suburbs, writes Vince Bielski on RealClear Ed.

Lotteries will mix high, average and low achievers from different backgrounds in the same classroom. Many parents with "say they don't want to roll the dice on their kids’ education," he writes. "If a large number of families do exit the city’s public schools in 2023, it would mean another financial blow to a system that has already lost more than 100,000 students since the beginning of the pandemic."

About 72 percent of students are Asian American at New York City's elite Stuyvesant High School.

Changing admissions rules at selective schools or dropping admissions requirement is a national trend. But there's plenty of push back from achievers' parents.

In progressive San Francisco, the school board's decision to admit students by lottery to what had been the city's selective high school angered Chinese-Americans. Three board members were recalled in a landslide; the new board reversed the decision.

In every district with selective schools, Asian-American students are far more likely to qualify for admissions with whites second and blacks and Hispanics far behind.

In mixed-ability classes, teachers must cope with a huge range of skill levels, says Jonathan Plucker, a professor of education at Johns Hopkins University. “The idea that everyone benefits in a mixed-ability classroom is an ideological statement that flies in the face of all the evidence we have, which is very mixed,” Plucker says. “And not just for advanced students. It’s not clear that struggling students benefit either.”

A mother in affluent District 2 told Bielski her son’s experience during the pandemic at the unscreened Robert Wagner middle school “a disaster.”

In English class on most days, she said, 25 students spent much of the period reading a variety of unchallenging fantasy and sports books. So there was little opportunity for a dynamic class discussion around a compelling literary topic. Instead, the teacher walked around the classroom and briefly talked individually to students. They avoided tackling difficult authors from Toni Morrison to William Shakespeare whose works require more elucidation and class discussion.

The family plans to move to Connecticut.

Virginia's attorney general is investigating the decision to withhold notice of academic honors from students, most of them Asian American, at 17 high schools. Students weren't told they'd won National Merit commendations in time to include the honor in college applications.

"It is a perverse deeply un-American mind-set that penalizes merit — in any field of endeavor, whether academics or the arts, sports or languages," writes Hugh Hewitt in the Washington Post.

Fairfax County schools paid nearly half-a-million dollars for an equity plan included “equal outcomes for every student, without exception” as a goal, writes Hewitt. "Because the schools could not accomplish an impossible goal, they must have decided the next best thing was to hide all evidence of outcomes."

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