Education system and tracking

I read an interesting article this morning ( that discusses the use of ‘tracking’ and the consequences of this program. What’s discussed is the new age form of segregation (whether warranted or not is debatable) within a particular school system. More specifically, AP classes and the gifted and talented classes are dominated by white and asian students where as the schools have a high percent of hispanic and black students.

My take on this article is segregation based on ability are essential to ensuring highly talented individuals meet their potential. I think it is prudent to allow those who learn at an advanced rate to be among those who share that commonality - the same applies to those on the opposite spectrum. What needs to be addressed, and perhaps the system in place is the lesser of all evils, is if the program devised to rank students can be gamed. Discuss.

This is an interesting topic. I do clearly agree that advanced students need appropriate challenge in order to reach their full potential. No doubt. However, what we are seeing is that assignment to AP classes or what not is pretty strongly along socioeconomic lines. Yes, these kids are smarter. But I’m not sure science can demonstrate that whites and Asians are inherently more intelligent than others. In fact, blacks born into wealth scenarios (like Obama, for example ) tend to do pretty damn good. So I think the method to address this issue, yet again, is to deal with some of the socioeconomic disadvantages facing kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, rather than quash the high achievers into being losers. Though in your article there is an example where a black girl had the marks and academic performance but was initially denied AP placement. Thankfully her parents pushed back, but many won’t. This is a real injustice. Such placements should certainly be based on merit, and a kid with the grades should get the spot regardless of race. Anyway, the likely outcome is the government will try to force some affirmative action plan, or adjust standards so that the classes become more representive. This is short sighted though, and the wrong move in the long run. This will simply mask the systemic issues that face children from disadvantaged communities and situations, which is really what needs to be addressed. Also: This assumes there is inherent benefit from being more educated. That relationship is becoming less clear. The black plumber that did vocational training will probably kick the ass of the average hacksaw, non-Ivy, liberal arts white girl in lifetime earnings. 99% of folks don’t need advanced math. These liberal arts educated people are our future baristas. So take what you will from that.

I don’t get the problem. If you want to get into a good class, then just demonstrate that you have the same aptitude as the other kids who enter that class. The attitude of people that blame external factors for everything is counterproductive to self improvement.

Education attainment gap can be solved in one generation if people have the right attitude. Take my wife’s family for instance. Uncle marries some Puerto Rican lady that does not speak the same language to get green card, brings siblings to the US. All have no college education. All work in menial jobs. Kids generation, boom - valedictorian, Harvard, Stanford, UPenn. It’s because they work their ass off and don’t point fingers at society.

^ And what of kids with aptitude but born to parents without drive? They just lose the lottery and they’re SOL? Also note the example in the article of the kid that had the grades but still didn’t get in. Thankfully she had parents that pushed but many don’t. They just deserve to languish because of their parents?

“She had the middle school grades and standardized test scores to take the higher-level math class, Fields says, but she didn’t get the required recommendation from a teacher to take the class.”

This is not substantiated. Were other kids admitted to the class with worse grades? Why did the teacher not write a recommendation - was this race based or was this actually based on merit?

Plus, the problem is that in general, black kids don’t take hard classes. Even if this particular kid was unfairly denied entrance to the AP class, the overall low educational attainment of black kids is real.

It’s too bad that some parents don’t provide environments that allow their kids to thrive in school. However, they are free to bring up their kids as they choose. At the same time, parents who do make the hard choices to invest in their kids’ futures should be allowed to enjoy the benefits.

My argument is that people should stop blaming society for discrimination when things don’t go their way. Instead, evaluate yourself and improve. This is what distinguishes high attaining cultural groups in the US with low attaining ones.

Per the article, she failed to get a required recommendation from a teacher. Perhaps she was just a bitch and behavioral problems kept her out. The story is incomplete and it’s always dangerous to lean on a blurb without considering underlying causes (hello, Ferguson).

I find the idea that blacks face discrimination when trying to get into AP/gifted classes absolutely laughable. American public school teachers are a pretty left-leaning group and there’s no shortage of white guilt among them. And if there’s discrimination, why aren’t Asians discriminated against?

I’m not claiming that she was discriminated on based on her race. I’m claiming she had the grades and without her parent’s intervention she would have be condemed to lower standard education. That’s a problem. There is no justice in a society that punishes kids without involved parents. In fact, its just bullshit. I also will disagree completely with Ohai. Kids born to involved parents don’t deserve better outcomes in life compared to kids born to losers. To claim so is ridiculous. Congratulations on be born to good people, that doesn’t give you the right to condemn kids from lesser families to a life of below average outcomes. One key issue here is that many of these tracking decisions are made very early in life, before kids really have the autonomy to display their own abilities. So really its defining kids based upon their parentage, not on ability. There is likely much lost potential in the US (and other countries) due to these practices. Tracking kids at age 16 where they are more responsible for themselves is different than providing better education to a select group at age 5.

Said a different way: Parents who are involved in their kids’ education and development don’t deserve to have their kids experience better outcomes than the kids of parents who don’t give a shit about their kids.

Once again, policy is based on outcomes (few minorites in AP courses) and not causes.

Its not about the parents. In a conflict of rights, the state should exist to ensure those least able to protect themselves (children). These children need help. I honestly don’t feel too sorry for high class parents that can’t buy success for their loser kids. If their kids are equally meritorious as the others, then they have nothing to fear. What I’m hearing is my kids aren’t as strong, so I fear others getting opportunity to compete on a level field. I’m a parent. I’ll invest time and money in my son’s education. But I don’t think its fair to other children that don’t have as involved parents to be condemned to a second tier in society. I’m not against kids doing VERY well, likely due to their parents. I am against taking away opportunity because you didn’t win the birth lottery. That’s what third world backwaters like India do with their tiered society. Not enlightened first world democracies.

“…a ‘genius’ is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework.”

  • Thomas Edison

And all parents care about their kids, at least the vast majority. But many don’t have the resources to tutor their kids every night when they are working two jobs to keep them fed, or whatever their situation may be. A lack of resources is not a lack of effort and to discriminate on such a basis is a fundamental injustice. If you want a society where kids outcomes are mostly defined by their parents, then I suggest that’s a huge step back from the liberal principles upon which America was founded. America was founded on a society where folks would have the opportunity to pursue their goals. However in a society that values education in increasing importance, having a two or three tiered education system certainly amounts to the systemic class system that New World countries were established to eliminate. To be honest I find the increasing inequity in our education systems a core threat to the very underlying principles upon which we based our societies.

In a perfect world everybody would self-actualize. In real life practically nobody does. Life is not fair and it is impossible to make it fair. As a society we need to decide what level of fairness is acceptable.

There is also a reason why Americans refuse to accept science these days. Higher average education is preferable for more outcomes than just personal income.

I agree. And I think we’ve gone too far now to the unfair side. Canada is ranked among the best in the OECD for educational equality (America is not the worst, France is). But I see this rapidly decaying, especially in my province. I quite frankly would likely not have had the opportunity to obtain the success I did personally in the American education system. That bothers me. On a forum where most folks are wealthy, at least relative to the average, and came from some standard of wealth, I can understand the opposition to my ideas. And I don’t expect people to do anything short of defend their rights and their place in society. But I’d ask folks to consider whether they think their rewards are just in a society where such rewards are primarily allocated based on parentage, and where much ability is squandered. I’m all for folks getting “tracked” based on ability. But that needs to be an honest assessment of ability beyond gaming the system.

^I’m originally from one of the worst school systems in the entire USA. The exceptional people still make it out because they can learn it themselves and get far ahead of their schooling, but it seems its otherwise above average that get hurt the most.

Balderdash. In *all* cases where parents raise their own children, their childrens’ outcomes are not “defined” by their parents. They are heavily influenced by them. Some socialist tutoring program (not that there aren’t tons already) isn’t going to change that. As the parent of a toddler, I can already see my significant influence on his fundamental behavior. Character development begins at a very young age.

The *only* way to eliminate the correlation between a child’s outcome and his parents’ behavior is to simply remove the child from his parents and place him into a social daycare where he will be raised by often low-quality people who don’t really care about the kid.

So is that what you’re advocating? You want to take my kid away from me to ensure that he performs at an “average” level (i.e. below the level at which I will try to make him perform)? Sorry, bucko, but you can’t ruin my kid’s life to advance your crazy socialist/cult dreams.

No, that’s not what I’m advocating. It doesn’t need to be one extreme or the other. Having kids have proper food before school or access to quality daycare alternatives for low income folks would address a lot of inquities of opportunity. Just two small examples. These are small beer in the larger list of social expenditures. And of course limit tracking until kids are older, and enforce minimum educational standards across the entire system so residence doesn’t determine quality of education. That’s all I’m saying. No state nanny to watch your kids. I’m not asking the state to provide everything, just give all kids a reasonable chance at making it, if they have the skill and drive to do so.

Also note I don’t advocate cutting down kids. If you invest time and money and effort into your kids success, so be it. I hope he does great. Helping disadvantaged kids doesn’t take away from your child. Unless of course, you’re scared he can’t compete. But if he’s an all-star, he’s got nothing to fear from other kids getting a shot.

Jesus Christ. Everytime you post I think it is impossible for someone who knows so little to be so opiniated and everytime you out do yourself.

The Caste system is dead. Too bad your enlightened first world democratic media neglected to tell you that and last time I checked the country mentioned was a democracy. The biggest and most diverse one at that.