Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On Specialized High Schools

(fm the BC thread "It's For the Children")

Leo Linbeck III,
You make a good point about how special High Schools track from functional neighborhood zoned Primary Schools. For the present I will not discuss Middle Schools which are probably a disaster everywhere, it is a rough age for the kids. While there is a correlation between family income and the performance of a school it is not a simple identity with race. whiskey is simply wrong about this. What matters is culture and expectations.

In New York the Specialized High Schools for math and science enrichment, Stuyvesant and Brooklyn Tech and Bronx Science, as well as other elite public High Schools, Hunter and Townsend Harris, are only partly there to serve as an anchor for the white Middle Class. They largely serve as ladders for immigrants seeking entry into elite colleges. The real elites in the city are not sending their children to those schools. They are sending them to private schools. Fifteen years ago the student body at Bronx Science was approximately 5% Upper Middle Class Whites (mostly Protestant), 10% Black, 10% Hispanic, 10% South Asian, 10% White ethnic Catholic (mostly Italian), 15% Jewish (including Russians) and 40% East Asian. The last being about equally divided between Chinese and Koreans. A few Japanese and some South East Asians completed the mix. The majority of these were immigrants or the children of immigrants. Korean girls would sit with a dictionary open on their laps and they would work and they would succeed. Most of the Black students barely scrapped by, not because of a lack of intelligence but because of a lack of a work ethic that comes from the home and the local school.

Good schools are not the problem. The problem is in the bad schools and in the public administration of the schools and in the union that discourages hard work and in the homes. Any student can get in trouble as much as any student can learn to work. Either result must be recognized. The child of two wealthy lawyers who are never there for her is as or more likely to get in trouble as the child of immigrants working in a dry cleaner who is feeling enormous pressure to achieve.

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