Concerned that its top academic schools are not racially and economically diverse enough, Philadelphia Schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman is proposing major changes in how students are admitted to them.
The plan would take admissions decisions away from principals and their committees, and select students for magnet and citywide admissions schools centrally, using a computerized system...
District officials suggest a 1000-point system, 600 points of which would be based on test scores and grades, according to the draft that was distributed to high school principals. Other factors woud include behavior and attendance, and, for the first time, 200 point for "diversity" as measured by the student's neighborhood or zip code and income level.
The proposal could upend a decades-old selection system for the magnet schools, long an educational refuge for the city's middle class where many powerful and influential leaders send their children.According to John Frangipani, chief of schools operations:
District officers...want all neighborhoods and zip codes--from the richest to the poorest--to be fairly represented in magnet schools such as Masterman and Central, where student test scores are among the highest in the state.As the Inquirer reports:
At Masterman last year, 28 percent of the students were black, compared with 60 percent districtwide. Whites made up 44 percent of the students, compared with 13 percent districtwide.
Districtwide, 76 percent come from low-income families, while at Masterman the number is 44 percent.To ensure that this bold proposal works as well as its architects intend, I suggest the following additional measures:
1. A 20% wage tax surcharge on anyone who works in Philadelphia and moves his or her private residence outside the city limits.
2. A 20% tax on private school tuition.
3. Outlawing home schooling.