My daughter told me my posts are getting too sappy lately, so here comes a controversial one. I actually wrote this one two years ago, but never hit publish. After this year's AP exams, I felt I had publish this.
Anyone who thinks discrimination is no longer an issue in New York City schools has not really seen a NYC school lately. For years, I have been bringing this to the attention of the administration. For years I have been told, yes it is a problem that we must address.
The AP courses in math and science are especially lacking when it comes to students of African American descent. I proctored the AP physics exam and I will tell you that group was not ethnically diverse. I had a conversation with one of the science teachers at lunch today and he agreed with me. The conversation began with a discussion of Jake, an extremely bright, extremely active African American boy whose grades in chemistry and math are way above average. while his Spanish, English and history grades are low. We both felt Jake could have been in an AP class if either one of us had known him as a freshman. We both felt Jake would have been doing better in all his classes if someone had noticed his intelligence early in his high school career.
A child must be groomed to take AP calculus or an AP science class from early on. Often, one strike and you are out. Many bright, children are immature when they start high school and end up falling out of the AP track. Once out, they can't get back in. No matter what anyone says, certain races and nationalities are picked out of this track sooner than others. Other races and ethnic groups are allowed to have second chances. Excuses are made for their shortcomings and they get to proceed.
I don't necessarily think that a lot of these decisions are made consciously. I pointed out the problem to a colleague who programmed kids a few years ago. At first, she denied the prejudice but then, she watched what she was doing and was forced to admit doing it to herself. The good thing is that she changed. Problems like these are not easily solved but realizing they exist is the first step towards the solution.