The Solution to Selective Admissions at Classical


One common observation that conservatives make about the progressive approach to solving problems is that it attempts to fix things with the most direct, immediate means possible without considering what is therefore given up.  Complaints that Classical High School in Providence isn’t inclusive of English-language learners because its admissions test is in English fall into this category:

… for the ever-increasing number of Providence students who are learning English as a second language, the barrier for entry to Classical is remarkably high. The admissions exam is offered only in English, despite nearly a third of the district’s 24,000 students being designated as English learners. …

[City Council President Sabina] Matos, who grew up in the Dominican Republic and learned English while attending Rhode Island College, said having an admissions exam that is only in one language “perpetuates the harmful stereotype that non-English speakers aren’t as capable or as intelligent as their English-speaking peers.”

“This English-only practice systematically discriminates against students who may possess a mastery in areas like math, science, or history but are barred for simply not speaking the ‘right’ language,” she said.

The first thought arising from this article is:  Why not work to ensure that students are able to take tests in English by the time they apply to high school?  That way, testing in English won’t be as much of a concern.

Of course, some portion of students won’t quite get there, perhaps because they moved to the country too recently.  That possibility, however, points to a second thought:  Why is it obviously wrong to have a school that can help students who excel without having to overcome a language barrier, too?  Maybe it is, but shouldn’t the argument at least be made, rather than falling back on assertions about discrimination?

  • PeterVE

    There you go being all logical and s#!+. That’ll never fly.

  • Joe Smith

    Why is it obviously wrong to have a school that can help students who excel without having to overcome a language barrier, too?

    After Lau v. Nichols ruling, Congress passed with large majorities from both parties (and a Rep President) the Equal Educational Opportunity Act (EEOA) mandating that no state shall deny equal education opportunity to any individual, “by the failure by an educational agency to take appropriate action to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation by students in an instructional program.”

    In this case, let’s face it, Classical is the only magnet high school in the LEA and let’s drop the pretense this isn’t really about Classical trying to maintain its reputation/rankings to prevent any more “white flight” given it has about 3 times the percentage of white students than PPSD as a whole.

    While your first point is valid that ESL/ELL students in the pipeline should be pushed and no waivers should be granted on the magnet enrollment criteria (making the test bi-lingual is not a waiver), the point on “maybe it is” has been asked and answered. Hmm..heaven forbid Classical might have to make some accommodations like an intensive ESL or perhaps some classes in dual language – might scare off some of those white folks who don’t want to fork over the money for a private school?

  • Makaha Ken

    The State of Hawaii, 50th state, has constitutionally and legally mandated that two languages are fully recognized and legally acceptable in the state for all legal, public, educational and private oral or written communication transfer of information not barring other languages. In other words, Hawaiian and English are the official state languages of the State of Hawaii to be used in order listed. Learn one or both.

    If you can not speak or read either, there are interpreters to help you in legal or educational matters.

    U.S. Census Bureau indicates all world-wide ethnic nationalities are represented in State of Hawaii with no majority ethnic origin, color, race or religion so everyone in state is treated as a equal minority. Ten million world-wide tourists and visitors a year visit Hawaii each year with a state population of 1.4 million residents.

  • Makaha Ken

    May I also add, at any given time, there are language specialists in Hawaii who can speak and read at least one or more of the 3,000 plus different languages native to the area of responsibility of the largest U.S.A. combatant command headquartered in Honolulu, United States Indo-Pacific Command, responsible for peace keeping 50% of the earth (stretching from the waters off the west coast of the U.S. to the western border of India, and from Antarctica to the North Pole).

    If Classical High School were to add entrance exams accomidating all ESL students in their native language skills, imagine the printing and extra staffing costs of language specialists (which they should already have for ESL) required for the Providence School Department. English is the accepted official language of mainland U.S.A.

    In Hawaii regular ordinary public schools are college preparatory and if the student is motivated even though they might not fluently speak and read Hawaiian or English, they with parent’s and teacher’s help will find a way to excel. Waipahu student earns Leeward Community College degree before high school graduation:

    • Joe Smith

      Ken – when I moved to Hawaii, among the first piece of advice given was “if you have kids, homeschool or put in private school”…

      • Guest

        Joe Smith , things have changed in Hawaii public education .

  • Makaha Ken

    Joe Smith, my best answer to you is the following news report about education in Hawaii; Education in Hawaii: Smart Innovations and Persistent Problems: