Merit vs lottery admissions

Sara Randazzo

Phil­adelphia schools Su­per­in­ten­dent Tony B. Watling­ton Sr. said he knows the process isn’t per­fect but calls the lot­tery an ap­pro­pri­ate step to­ward eq­ui­table ac­cess. The dis­trict is hir­ing out­side con­sul­tants and lis­ten­ing to com­mu­nity feed­back to see if the sys­tem needs to be ad­justed, he said.

“I want to ad­dress the is­sues in a way that we all get bet­ter,” Dr. Watling­ton said. “It doesn’t have to be an in­her­ent us-ver­sus-them sce­nario.”

Schools that set aca­d­e­mic qual­i­fi­ca­tions for en­roll­ment are rare in the na­tion’s pub­lic school sys­tems. Chester E. Finn Jr., a se­nior fel­low at the Thomas B. Ford­ham In­sti­tute, found 165 se­lec­tive-ad­mis­sions high schools na­tion­wide, many on the East Coast.