Diversity in education has different meanings

Mention the term diversity to most people and chances are they will assume it refers strictly to race.  But in actuality it can also mean socioeconomic diversity or academic diversity (“NYC’s school diversity plan could lead to another ‘white flight,’ “ New York Post, Sep. 29).  The differences in meaning create different reactions from people – and for good reason.

Parents want the best education for their children. Racial and socioeconomic diversity has proved to be beneficial, which is why parents tend to support that goal.  What they don’t support, however, is academic diversity because it undermines quality.  For example, efforts are underway in New York City, home of the nation’s largest school system, to open the doors of its academically rigorous high schools to students who want to go there.  The trouble is that students who are unprepared for the tougher curriculum will fail.

What will no doubt happen then is that they will drop out or standards will be lowered to accommodate them.  If the past is any indication, it will be the latter.  As a result, parents will likely pull their children out of these schools and enroll them in either private school or in charter schools.  I don’t blame them.  They’ve made great sacrifices to provide their children with a quality education.  If academics are to be undermined in the interest of other considerations, they will do what’s best for their own.

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2 Replies to “Diversity in education has different meanings”

  1. Apparently, the existing NYC middle-school admissions standards tracked based on applicants’ academic achievement. The proposed standards will eliminate tracking based on applicants’ academic achievement and instead ensure that at least X% of low-income/minority students are admitted.

    Always counterproductive/inefficient to eliminate tracking based on academic achievement/ability.

    Always bad to ensure that a school that previously had very few low-income/minority students will have more than a few low-income/minority students (unless tracking based on academic achievement/ability ensures that the low-income/minority students have academic achievement/ability comparable to that of the higher-income/white students). White flight is inevitable as is flight by parents of all income/races who place a high value on the quality of their kids’ schools.

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  2. Labor Lawyer: Academic diversity will not help those students it is designed to benefit because they will too often find themselves over their heads. That’s most certainly the case with elite high schools, where rigorous standards exist. Students who can’t keep up will then drop out. It’s a prescription for failure.

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