kitchen table math, the sequel: Closing the achievement gap: awarding points for diversity

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Closing the achievement gap: awarding points for diversity

From today's Philadelphia Inquirer:
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.


Allison said...

The universities do this already, so why not do it at the high school level?

And if they don't, the US Dept of Education is going to sue them:

Mr. Duncan plans to say that in the past decade the department’s Office for Civil Rights “has not been as vigilant as it should have been in combating gender and racial discrimination and protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities,” according to a text of the speech distributed to reporters on Sunday.

It continues, “We are going to reinvigorate civil rights enforcement.”

At the end of high school, white students are about six times as likely to be ready to pursue college-level biology courses as black students, and more than four times as likely to be ready for college algebra, department officials said. White high school graduates are more than twice as likely to have taken advanced placement calculus classes as black or Latino graduates.

The department enforces civil rights laws in schools and universities by responding to specific complaints from parents, students and others, but also by scrutinizing its own vast bodies of data on the nation’s school and university systems, looking for signs of possible discrimination. A school seen to be expelling Latino students in numbers far out of proportion to their share of the student population, for instance, might become a candidate for compliance review, officials said.

C T said...

As to those three additional measures--Ack! Don't give them any ideas!!

lgm said...

Perhaps if they could use some of the brainpower currently spent on 'scrutinizing its own vast bodies of data' to id the non-magnet schools and classrooms that are failing to prepare students adquately for college and correct the situation. This would enlarge the pie and including more students rather than running a reverse discrimination scheme and pushing a child of an undesireable ethnicity or SES out. So much for transforming ' our schools and colleges to meet the demands of a new age' (P.Obama's Inagural Address. Their internal memo must have read differently.

Catherine Johnson said...

So I guess there's no chance of hiring the DI or precision teaching folks to teach these kids the knowledge they're missing.

Because....that would make sense.

Allison said...

Lgm, have you considered you misunderstood the inaugural address? The internal memo matches the rhetoric.

These changes are features, not bugs. The administration's goal is for *equality*. That's a complete transformation of our schools, and our society. The administration is happy to manage the decline of the world's previous superpower. We're entering a new age indeed.