In an attempt to increase racial diversity at New York City’s seven specialized high schools, Mayor Bill de Blasio established the Discovery program, which offers seats and free summer tutoring to disadvantaged students scoring just below the cut-off score (“Students Admitted to Elite Schools Through Diversity Push Do Well Academically, City Data Show,” The Wall Street Journal, June 4).
Although the intent is laudable, it has discriminated against students with higher scores. Seven students have filed an appeal arguing that Discovery unfairly denied them seats. Beyond the legal merits, there is another factor given little attention. The principle of the flat maximum holds that all students at the top of the curve can succeed. Trying to differentiate among them is a fool’s game.
No one denies that students who just miss the cut-off score can’t handle the material in these rigorous schools. Of course they can. They are all good enough. But by admitting them, officials are denying students with higher scores seats in these coveted schools. Moreover, New York State law prohibits Discovery from interfering in any manner with the academic level of the sought-after schools.
Diversity is a worthy goal, but it has its limits.
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