Elite high schools have been lambasted for their lack of racial diversity. Yet there is hope. The Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York City has managed to achieve that goal while at the same time posting a 99 percent graduation rate (“ ‘Fame’ High School Principal Leaving Post After Student Protests,” The Wall Street Journal, Jun. 25).
Admission to LaGuardia is based solely on an audition, as viewers of the movie “Fame” will recall. Applicants perform before a panel of judges. There is no standardized written test. For decades that policy has worked extraordinarily well. But when the principal attempted to place greater emphasis on academics rather than on arts, she was forced to leave.
Academics are important, but LaGuardia correctly recognizes that they do not constitute the sum and substance of a student’s potential for a successful future. The performing arts by their very nature cannot be measured by any standardized test. That’s why auditions are used in casting for various roles. It’s not perfect, but then again what way is? LaGuardia deserves high praise for what it has accomplished. It’s too bad other specialized high schools don’t follow in its footsteps.
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