Part of the Great Circle of Life in American schools is that the smart teachers and administrators who like smart students devise tracking systems so the smart kids can have their own classes where they are taught at a quick, less boring rate and get into more advanced materials. Eventually, the dumb teachers and administrators who dislike smart kids cotton on to what the clever ones are doing and shut down tracking in the name of equity. But then the smart grown-ups figure out a new euphemism for tracking that fools the anti-smart forces for a while. And so the Great Circle grinds on.
From the Wall Street Journal news section:
High school in Evanston, Ill., offers so-called affinity classes, in which Black and Latino students are separated from white students
By Sara Randazzo and Douglas Belkin
Nov. 26, 2023 8:00 am ET
EVANSTON, Ill.— School leaders in this college town just north of Chicago have been battling a sizable academic achievement gap between Black, Latino and white students for decades.
Evanston, home to Northwestern U., has the highest scoring white public school 5th graders in the country, according to the helpful Stanford Education Data Archive. Evanston also had, the last time I was there in the 1990s, a micro-ghetto that looked like East St. Louis in National Lampoon’s Vacation. It was originally constructed for black servants of Evanston’s mansion owners.
In most upscale suburbs, the small number of blacks tend to be pretty upscale (e.g., in exurban Frisco, TX, the 10% of students who are black tend to be the children of home-owning corporate employees and score pretty well), but Evanston has an immense racial gap. I’ve been told by a bourgeois black in Evanston that her kind of people send their kids to Catholic school to get them away from the influence of the ghetto blacks in Evanston’s public schools.
So a few years ago, the school district decided to try something new at the high school: classrooms voluntarily separated by race.
Nearly 200 Black and Latino students at Evanston Township High School signed up this year for math classes and a writing seminar intended for students of the same race, taught by a teacher of color. These optional so-called affinity classes are designed to address the achievement gap by making students feel more comfortable in class, district leaders have said, particularly in Advanced Placement courses that historically have enrolled few Black and Latino students. …
Advanced Placement classes tend to be a fast-paced drag. I can recall an AP American History that, in its frenzy to get through the Wilmot Proviso, Bimetallism, and Whip Inflation Now, had no classroom discussion until the last three weeks of the school year after the test.
At Evanston H.S., most of the (usually very bright) white and Asian students have a shot at getting a 5 on the AP test’s 1-5 scale (the equivalent of an A in a run of the million college’s freshman intro-level course). Most of Evanston’s black and Hispanic students can hope, at best, for a 3 (a C).
So, if it really is a good idea to subject the lousier students to the frantic pace of an AP course, then it might not be a bad idea to have separate 5 Score Track for the smart kids (that goes into depth on the National Bank controversy) and a 3 Score Track class for the not so smart kids (that emphasizes the Civil War came after the Revolutionary War).
But, of course, then, why not just assign students to their appropriate tracks in a colorblind fashion?
Evidently, because then people might notice that the 5 Track is predominantly white and Asian and the 3 Track is mostly black and white, and noticing is Bad. So, instead, the administration will simply have a segregated 3 Track so that the official explanation of why the black kids are in the easier course is keep them protected from all the Systemic Racism emanating from the white privileged bodies in the 5 Track.
The school proclaims:
“Recognizing that racism is the most devastating factor contributing to the diminished achievement of students, ETHS will strive to eliminate the predictability of academic achievement based upon race.”
Why didn’t anybody ever think of trying that before? I guess it’s because, as we all know, progressives never ever got a chance to implement all their great ideas about education and race in those murky, little remembered years between the landmark deaths of Emmett Till in 1955 and George Floyd in 2020.