Joan Vennochi’s June 28 column (“Students should know about Boston Latin’s up escalator”) suggests that Boston Latin School is the only path to upward mobility in the Boston Public Schools, and that black and Latino students are underrepresented at BLS due to lack of knowledge about the school. Both thoughts are deeply flawed.
In a district in which 75 percent of students are black or Latino and 30 percent are English-language learners, only 21 percent of BLS’s students are black and Latino, and zero percent are English-language learners. This disparity is not due to lack of communication; rather, systemic district policies ensure that BLS serves a predominantly white, Asian, and middle-class student population.
Policies governing placement into Advanced Work Classes, a grades 4-6 gateway into exam schools, rely on a standardized test, which is likely to be culturally and linguistically biased, creating first- and second-class students, with most black and Latino students losing out. It doesn’t help that, upon entering BLS, black and Latino students are then exposed to a culture of racism.
If there is only one high school that provides upward mobility for its students, then we have a system that is failing the vast majority of black and Latino students. Thankfully, there are other Boston high schools preparing students for future life opportunities that do not get the same publicity.
Rather than creating tiered educational opportunities based largely on race, income, and language, we should ensure that every student is provided high-quality educational opportunities and the support needed to succeed in school and beyond.
The writer is executive director of the Center for Collaborative Education.