New York City, home of the nation’s largest school system, will eliminate the use of grades and other screens in determining who is admitted to its specialized high schools for at least one year (“Reopen Schools, and Reform Them,” The New York Times, Dec. 20). The rationale is that the schools in question have too few Black and Hispanic students. Instead, a lottery system will be used.
The problem with using a lottery to determine who gets in is that too many students will soon find themselves over their heads in handling rigorous academic work. When that happens, they will either drop out, or more likely the schools will dumb down instruction. In the former, their self-esteem will be badly damaged. In the latter, their more able classmates will be deprived of the education they deserve.
There will never be a way to satisfy everyone. But the truth is that some students are smarter and work harder than others. Their performance on the current entrance exam reflects that. The exam is not perfect by a long shot, but a lottery is the wrong way to correct matters.
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