Up until the middle of last decade, the education system offered a binary proposal: perform well in standardized testing, and you’ll receive admission into elite institutions. But with identity politics rearing its ugly head, simple issues have taken on unusual complexities. Such is the case for the latest academic controversy.
Earlier this week, media reports indicated that New York City school administrators only accepted a small number of black students into their elite public high schools. For instance, at Stuyvesant High School – the city’s most selective institution among public schools – only seven blacks received acceptance letters. That in and of itself is an alarmingly-low tally.
However, the situation worsens when you bring in historical context. Last year, only 10 black students walked into Stuyvesant’s vaunted hallways. In 2017, that figure was up at 13 students. In other words, diversity has taken a backseat, worrying many progressive lawmakers and political influencers.
To address this rising academic controversy, Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed to scrap the entrance exam for these selective institutions. Hailing from a liberal perspective, I’m not surprised that de Blasio suggested this rather outrageous tactic. After all, low-income and immigrant families regard these public schools as a viable ticket to the good life.
But in attempting to level the playing field, de Blasio and his cohorts exposed their racialized agenda.
This Academic Controversy is No Controversy at All
A few years ago, I came across a corporate motivation poster. This one read: “go the extra mile…it’s never crowded.” Throughout my childhood and into my professional career, I’ve heard multiple variants of this same message.
However, I never really understood why people harped on this subject so much. To me, the extra mile represents a foregone conclusion. I’m more worried about reaching the fourth or fifth mile. This isn’t about bragging but rather, taking responsibility.
Those who succeed in life typically find ways to overcome their challenges. Everybody else falls victim to them.
Although it’s a harsh thing to say about a bunch of high school kids, nevertheless, the same lesson applies. By itself, having skewed demographics within an educational institution doesn’t constitute an academic controversy. What it suggests is that some students welcome the competition and do everything necessary to win.
Of course, that concept is anathema to liberal policymakers. In their view, fairness and equality means ramping up the black-student tally at Stuyvesant and other selective schools. That works, perhaps, for the black student body. But what about Asian Americans? Are they not “diversity” too?
Sadly, the answer is an alarming no. And I’m not surprised that leftists have suggested measures such as doing away with entrance exams: this move would literally put everyone on equal footing.
But is that right? I argue that it’s the worst policy you can craft. No other institution provides waivers for merely possessing immutable characteristics. But that’s the world we’re living in now.
In the past, this academic controversy would be no controversy at all. Who cares that Asians overwhelm the elite schools’ ranks? Only in America is dedication, commitment, and excellence considered social crimes.