New York Sun columnist Andrew Wolf on how to use schools to destroy cities:

The test for the city’s “science” schools, Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Tech, has become the ultimate high-stakes test. The reason is simple. These schools are among the best anywhere, but the choices beyond are abysmal, particularly the schools that children can attend as a matter of right without a special admission process. In Riverdale and dozens of other similar communities in the city, it has long been the widely held belief that if you don’t “make” Science or Stuyvesant, you’re in deep trouble….

This was recognized by the New York Times, which reported in early 1997 that Kennedy’s principal told another prospective Riverdale parent that in order to ensure the safety of her son, she should “teach him to strut, not walk, and to watch what was going on behind him.” …What was left to this parent was the city’s Education Option, known as “Ed-Opt” high schools….Places are assigned according to a curve: 16% of the places are reserved for the highest-scoring students, 68% for those in the vast middle, and 16% for those at the bottom….

New York magazine examined this issue more than five years ago, using the Baruch College School as an example of how the system worked. For the 100 openings, 553 students applied from the top scoring group, vying for just 16 places; 878 came from the mid-range group, from which 68 were chosen, and just 63 of the applicants came from bottom, vying for 16 places. Thus, the odds that a low-scoring child would be admitted exceeded 1-in-4; 1-in-13 for the child in the middle, and 1-in-35 for the best performing students. This is meritocracy turned on its head. Of course, this system was created with the best of intentions, not to “leave any child behind.” The presumption was that the middle class would fend for itself. And they did, more often than not with their feet. [New York Sun, 11/7/03]

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