Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rant #1,224: Dumb Down

I was a pretty smart kid when I was growing up.

I taught myself to read, and I watched a lot of television; contrary to what has been said for ages, television taught me a lot back then.

So when I finally went to school at P.S. 165 in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, I was under the microscope.

I remember in kindergarten, men came to our class in suits, and they were watching me play.

In first grade, I was in a class that was kind of special. It was taught by an older woman who had never taught grade school before, a college professor, and she taught us stuff way beyond our grade level.

When we moved to Rochdale Village, I was at least two years ahead of most of my peers, and the stuff we did in second grade was a bore to me. Everything kind of evened out by fourth or fifth grade, but in those early years, I was bored.

By the time I got to junior high school, the playing field had evened out, but I was still in the SP classes, which I guess nowadays is the equivalent of the Honors class.

Late in eighth grade, my friends and I decided that we would try out for one of the elite schools in New York City, and I took the test for Bronx High School of Science (pictured)--the others were Brooklyn Tech and Stuyvesant--and passed the test.

I never went there, as we moved to Long Island right before high school began, but I could have gone there if I wanted to.

That is why it pains me to hear that certain New York City education officials pretty much want to dumb down the admission test for admission to these elite schools, making it easier for "everyone" to attend these institutions.

I am totally, 100 percent against this move, the latest in a whole host of "dumbing down" proposals on these schools that have been talked about since the 1980s or so, when the makeup of the students in the New York City school system had so radically changed.

Nowadays, it is not a disproportionate number of whites who go to these schools, but a disproportionate number of Asians who pass the test and make these schools, and for some reason, this has gotten people into an uproar.

Again, you have to take a test to go to these schools. You have to be smart to pass the test, and that has been the way it has been for generations.

No, not everyone should go to these schools.

However, some officials believe that not only taking a test, but other things should be added into the equation on who gets in and who doesn't, including school attendance, overall marks, and other areas that are nice, but they don't make for a successful student at these schools.

These people claim that that is how Ivy League schools do it, so if it is good for Harvard, it is good for Stuyvesant.

Well, if that was the case, I should have applied to Harvard when I was in high school, because I rarely missed a day of school.

This all is utter nonsense. It should not be easy to get into these schools. That is why they are elite schools, having a student body that is the best of the best of New York City school students.

And that has nothing to do with color or ethnic origin. The advocates of this plan say that it evens the playing field, and allows all ethnicities to attend these schools.

Funny, I thought that all ethnicities were allowed to go to these schools--you just had to pass the test, and no matter if you were black, white, yellow, pink or purple, if you were worthy of going there, you went there.

This is just another sort of link to affirmative action, and sorry, I cannot say that I am for that.

You should always take the best of the best, no matter who they are, and that is what these schools have done for generations.

Anyone can go to high school, and the way the city's public schools are now, you are not locked into going to your local high school, if there is one, and that has been the policy for more than 40 years.

So what is the big hubbub over this latest proposal?

To me, it just shows how far down the New York City schools have moved down into the quagmire.

This school system was once the best in the world. Over the past 40 or more years, it has gone into the garbage pail. This all started when districts became decentralized, and you had non-education people running the districts and their schools. They were more interested in getting local people into teaching positions and other positions of high authority than taking the best people available.

Although Stuyvesant and the other elite schools have always been there, there were also regular high schools which at one time excelled, such as Erasmus in Brooklyn and Jamaica High School in Queens. These were special schools that have given way to educational decay.

The latest move is symptomatic of a bigger problem, the fact that the New York City schools are not what they once were.

But you know what? Not being able to go to the elite high schools does not doom you in your future endeavors. Plenty of doctors, lawyers, teachers and yes, writers, come out of the New York City school system who don't attend the elite high schools.

So what is the problem here?


  1. When Becca was looking at colleges, we visited several elite schools. Admission to such schools is based on a combination of SAT scores, grade point average, class rank and participation in extracurricular activities. So if you want to compare NYC's elite high schools to elite universities, basing admission on a single test doesn't work. When my mother taught in Queens, she recommended that several of her students take the test for Hunter. She based her recommendations on her evaluation of the student's overall abilities. They did pass the test and went to Hunter.

  2. The test for the city's elite schools is difficult for a reason: not every student should attend these schools. Look, you wouldn't take such a test if you were not a good student. Being a good student comes with all of the other things, including grade point average and attendance. The problem with the latest proposal is that it is 100 percent racially motivated, and I cannot support such a proposal on those grounds. Why take it out on the city's Asian population that not enough blacks make these elite high schools? Total rubbish, and once again, affirmative action rears its ugly head, and sorry, it benefits no one. You take the best of the best, not the best because of their ethnicity.



yasmin lawsuit