Your anger at your experience with MMSD is palpable. I’d like, however, to stick to the main point of my original post which is whether UW should be lowering admission standards for students who participate in the PEOPLE program. Whatever you think of the validity of those requirements, it doesn’t change the fact that it is what nearly every other student has to contend with. And nothing you have said persuades me that a student with a 2.75 GPA has a very good shot at succeeding at UW. (And I didn’t say every PEOPLE grad got in to UW, but it’s clear that they will not necessarily be held to the same admission standards as everyone else.) I also don’t see why you have such trouble accepting my query whether this program will actually turn out successful college graduates, and at what cost. (Perhaps you don’t remember the airbrushing incident, where a minority student was photoshopped into a glossy UW brochure to create the impression of greater diversity) I’d hope this program isn’t a bandaid but genuinely prepares students to deal with the rigors of college.
I come from a hard science background. Your belief that a motivated student, albeit with a significantly lower GPA, will ask good questions begs the question. The rigors of science and math education are not much about sharing cultural or experiental differences. You can either do it or not–motivation AND preparation. And I’d argue that while GPA certainly isn’t the ideal measure, it does indicate some commitment and participation in the process of education.
As to your experience with MMSD. I too have had issues with how the district educates its students, especially talented and gifted students. Nonetheless, after seeing two children through the system, our family did not witness the kind of institutional racism you describe flowing from teachers and staff. Maybe it happens in other schools in the district but not at Franklin/Randall, Hamilton or West.
Moreover, our kids were in heterogeneous classrooms all the way through middle school. The same curriculum was available, the same preparation for high school, all there for all students. Indeed, we saw faculty and staff bending over backwards to engage minority students. I was involved for six years on Hamilton’s School Improvement Committee when the then principal would propose five goals every year, all of them centered on boosting the achievement and performance of the school’s most at-risk students, all or nearly all of them minority students.
During our tenure, we also saw the advent of Wright Middle School. (Who says MMSD won’t build a school that is inherently segregated?) It was my understanding that Wright was not only to be a school built for ease of access for students and families on the south side but also to provide a curriculum and atmosphere that would address the disparities in minority achievement. Thus, these minority students came into West with a great deal of support in their earlier school years.
Now you suggest that minority students are discouraged and steered away from the more difficult college prep curriculum in our high schools. I can’t speak for schools other than West. I agree that West is certainly a segregated place, but believe that to be a product of self-selection as much as anything else. But I’m here to tell you there is no way the school will stop a student from enrolling in a class. If your student wanted to enroll in the college prep curriculum, they might be told it will be tough and/or that they don’t have the pre-reqs but if you insisted on it, you’d get it. And it would be really hard once they were in those classes. I could write a book about that, but it isn’t relevant to this discussion. (Do you think minority students are the only ones steered away from the tougher curriculum? You’d be wrong.) By the way, don’t you wonder how these kids came to enroll in the PEOPLE program? Could it be from those same counselors you think are trying to keep them down?
You also note that male minority students have it especially rough, that there is a stigma for minority students to “acting white” which I take to mean buying in to doing well in school. Whose problem is that? Do you for one minute think it’s easy for any student to be deemed “smart”, but especially males? Peer pressure in high school isn’t limited to race.
See, I don’t accept the notion that there is a racial difference in the way we learn. I’m a biologist by training—there isn’t that much difference between us and the chimps, as the flare of anger in your posts bears witness. This isn’t to say there isn’t racism out there but there is also sexism, homophobia, anti-intellectualism, and a host of other sources of bigotry students have to contend with. You either deal with it or you make excuses.
If you believe there is institutional racism in MMSD, by all means address it. Gather families together, prove your case, encourage your children to not take no for an answer. Seek institutional changes.
That said, I still don’t accept your assertion that a student who is taking honors classes at West is somehow not going to be prepared for college and needs the rules bent to get in via the PEOPLE program. West students have a decent college prep curriculum if you insist on being part of it.
Motivation and assistance at home make a huge difference to children’s success. The data may be dated, but the Hamilton principal used to say that the two key factors predicting a student’s success were the educational status of the mother and whether the student came from an intact home. (Perhaps you have better information.) Thus, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that PEOPLE kids have smart moms and have dads around, too, spurring their children on. My comments about what my children had did not imply that all of the PEOPLE students lacked any or all pieces, only my sympathy for those who did not and the understanding that it was harder without that support. And I resent your snarkiness about it, your ad feminems, your twisting of my words to fit your angry scenario.
I am not opposed to providing additional coaching and instruction (and I did get the part that it was year-round.) And yes times have changed since I tutored—it’s gotten even harder. What I learned in graduate genetics and biochemistry is now taught in the introductory classes. We ask ever more of our students, as well we should. Students from India and Asia routinely smoke our students—they take more rigorous courses and display on average far more discipline than the average US student. I doubt very much that a 2.75 GPA student will be able to successfully compete in this new world, not that there aren’t exceptions, but generally speaking, I’m betting on my view over yours. And why should they get to attend UW while a student who is better prepared for the new playing field is shut out?
So I return to my original question–is it right to bend the admission requirements for PEOPLE students. I don’t think it is. And at the risk of waving a red flag in front of you, your offense at the question is entirely your problem not mine.