All High Schools should be Elite

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All High Schools should be Elite

Kimberly Wilson, Opinion Editor

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Only seven out of 895 enrollment spots were awarded to black students this year at one of New York’s most prestigious public high schools. State officials have since proposed several plans to diversify Stuyvesant High School along with other elite public high schools in the state.

This problem is not unique to New York alone. Many minorities at Chicago Public Schools and other low-performing districts across the country do not have access to the best schools. To really solve the problem of disparate opportunities in education, advantages that come with attending prestigious public high schools should be available at all institutions.

According to an article in the New York Times by Christopher Lee, N.Y. Mayor Bill de Blasio advocated for the removal of the entrance exam students must take to gain admittance into top high schools. De Blasio argued for the exam to be replaced by a system that would admit top performing students from all city middle schools.

The city has also elected to expand Discovery, a summer program aimed at preparing students who narrowly miss the exam cut off point to enroll in top high schools. Twenty percent of seats at each specialized high school would be reserved for students who participate in the Discovery program. The program is estimated to “roughly double the number of black and Hispanic students” at specialized high schools over the next two years.

Schools like Stuyvesant often give its students a leg up in their educational and career aspirations. Elite high schools are known to be gateways to a world class education, a myriad of invaluable opportunities and admittance into the country’s best colleges and universities. From internship opportunities to recommendations from influential people, the benefits to attending a specialized high school are considerable.

Students who do not attend these schools are at an inherent disadvantage. Even if elite high schools eventually increase the number of black and Hispanic students they admit, there will still be thousands of students in other public schools in N.Y and all over the country who won’t have access to the benefits elite high school students enjoy.

That’s not to assert there shouldn’t be a push to increase diversity at these schools. Being surrounded by people who are different comes with a plethora of benefits. Increased diversity allows students to learn how to work well with those who hold differing opinions than their own. It can also increases empathy and introduce students to a broad range of perspectives.

It’s important to give people from all backgrounds equal opportunities to learn at top institutions. This will aid in decreasing the level of inequality that still permeates much of American society. Many argue those who do not attain the requisite score for entrance into elite high schools simply do not deserve to attend. But studies show a student’s educational success largely depends on their parents’ income and level of education.

Many students who barely miss the cut off point are no less deserving or hard working than those who meet the requirements. They have just not had access to the same resources other families utilize to ensure their children receive the best preparation for the exam.

Parents shouldn’t have to feel as though they must send their child to an elite public or private high school  for them to have the best chance of success. All public high schools should have the same or similar opportunities available to their students. A more equal educational system is truly what is needed to even out the playing field. The best opportunities should be accessible to all, not just a select and privileged few.

 

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