Inequity just doesn’t add up.
At an elite school in New York City, that must be the thinking.
As reported by the New York Post, Manhattan’s Lab Middle School for Collaborative Studies recently planned to end courses in accelerated mathematics.
Last weekend, Principal Megan Adams made it clear in an email:
“We will no longer have leveled math courses at Lab Middle School.”
Not to worry — the change didn’t come willy-nilly:
“I know this is a change. I assure you that this decision was not made lightly.”
The news hit retired Lab teacher Maggie Feurtado particularly hard: Nearly ten years ago, she founded the program.
As expressed to the Post, she’s “simply appalled.”
Maggie may know the motive:
“This is all in the name of equity. And it’s likely coming from above.”
“But it’s misguided,” she insisted. “Having everyone in the same class hurts everybody.”
In response to a sizable backlash, on Tuesday, Principal Megan called the announcement “premature.”
“We will be holding community meetings where parents and educators can hear from one another, and school leadership can collect feedback.”
For now, the plan to do away with separate advanced math courses will be put on “pause.”
If Lab goes through with the elimination, it won’t exactly be blazing a trail.
As covered by RedState’s Mike Miller in February, Boston Public Schools suspended advanced classes in general.
The reason, per Superintendent Brenda Cassellius: “a lot of inequities.”
“There’s been a lot of inequities that have been brought to the light in the pandemic that we have to address. There’s a lot of work we have to do in the district to be antiracist and have policies where all of our students have a fair shot at an equitable and excellent education.”
In January, I profiled Fairfax County, Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.
Traditionally a place for “gifted” students, it was ranked America’s No. 1 high school in 2020.
Per The Federalist, “Most TJ students have tested in the top 2% of nationally normed tests that measure cognitive development, with IQ levels largely ranging from gifted at about 120 to genius at about 160.”
But following a national spotlight on racism, the school board “argued high test performance was a ‘barrier’ to black and Hispanic students.”
Hence, it put the kibosh on merit-based admissions.
Such is the fashionable approach: Standards must be lowered in order to be uniformly met.
This in OH. Let’s coddle kids some more. “High School Gets Rid of Valedictorian & Salutatorian to Help Students’ Mental Health, End ‘Competitive Culture’ of Achievement”https://t.co/RMZnfKnKTR
— Caprock Patriot (@CaprockPatriot) May 12, 2019
Back to Maggie Feurtado, she offered an analogy:
“It’s like not allowing any kids in a daycare to walk until all of them learn to walk. It doesn’t work. Advanced kids don’t want to belabor the same material. And the kids who need the extra attention won’t get what they need.”
More from the Post:
Feurtado’s imperiled model offered advanced math classes at Lab — a feeder school to the city’s ultra-competitive specialized high schools — for kids in the 7th and 8th grades based on a diagnostic test.
She said that exam — which she authored — assessed not only knowledge but critical thinking as well.
The parent of an outgoing 8th grader lamented the impact of the potential pruning.
“My child had a wonderful experience in one of these classes. I feel sorry for future students.”
“Children have different interests and abilities and we should foster their individuality, one mom maintained. “We need to push them. The one-size-fits-all doesn’t work for middle schoolers and math in particular if we want to train the next generation of scientists.”
She surmised wealthy parents might just send their kids to private school.
“Those who can’t afford that will be stuck.”
She even went so far as to suggest work can beget success:
“We need to teach kids to get hungry. They need to understand that this is how they can get ahead, through education and hard work. This is how they can go places. Priorities have to change.”
That appears to be an outdated attitude.
Even so, one person of note who’s probably not down with the ditching of advanced math: Bill Maher.
In March, the comedian surveyed the educational landscape:
“There is a progressive trend now to sacrifice merit for equity. Colleges are chucking the SAT and ACT test, and in New York, Mayor de Blasio announced merit would no longer decide who gets into the schools for advanced learners, but rather a lottery system.”
He asked a pertinent question while calling out college life in the modern age:
“You think China’s doing that? Letting political correctness get in the way of nurturing their best and brightest? You think Chinese colleges are offering courses in The Philosophy of Star Trek, The Sociology of Seinfeld, and Surviving the Coming Zombie Apocalypse? Those are real, and so is China. And they are eating our lunch.”
Surely they can’t take our lunch — that would be unfair.
As for the fate of Lab’s advanced math courses, community meetings will begin next week.
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