Boston Public Schools Suspend Advanced Program Because Officials Were ‘Disturbed’ By The Number Of Asian And White Students

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Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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An advanced program for high-performing students at Boston Public Schools was suspended after district officials determined the program would not promote “antiracism” due to the disproportionate number of Asian and white students, GBH News reported.

The Advanced Work Classes program, which provides an accelerated academic curriculum for students in fourth through sixth grade, will be suspended for one year after Boston Public Schools’ superintendent Brenda Cassellius recommended the school focus on reforming its “antiracist” policies, according to GBH News.

“There’s been a lot of inequities that have been brought to the light in the pandemic that we have to address,” Cassellius said, according to GBH News. “There’s a lot of work we have to do in the district to be antiracist and have policies where all of our students have a fair shot at an equitable and excellent education.”

70% of students in the program were white and Asian, while nearly 80% of all Boston public schools are Hispanic and black, a detailed study found, according to GBH News. Cassellius said that five schools currently offer the program, and last fall, 453 students applied and 116 students enrolled, the outlet reported.

The results of the analysis disturbed school committee member Lorna Rivera, according to GBH News. Rivera reportedly noted that nearly 60% of fourth-graders in the program in one of the district’s schools were white even though most third-graders enrolled in the school are Hispanic and black. 

“This is just not acceptable,” Rivera said at a recent meeting, according to GBH News. “I’ve never heard these statistics before, and I’m very very disturbed by them.”

The program was open to all students in the school district who took a standardized test in the third grade, earned a high score, and won an open spot via lottery. It allows students to study subjects in greater depth, and students are given more schoolwork and home study than the standard curriculum, according to the school districts’ site.

Students already in advanced work will be able to continue, but no new students will be admitted in the fifth or sixth grade. New students will be admitted in the fourth grade by standards to be determined at the school level, a school spokesperson said, according to GBH News.

“Antiracism” initiatives typically seek to eliminate merit-based programs, and implement race-based policy and racial activism training. Followers of “antiracism” believe viewing all policy through the lens of race is necessary to address racial disparities.

Other schools have proposed eliminating gifted programs or merit-based admissions as part of recent “antiracist” efforts. In New York City, a panel appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2019 recommended that schools end any merit-based admissions and gifted and talented programs because such programs are “exclusionary.”

Pedestrians walk by a mural of Abraham Lincoln outside of Abraham Lincoln High School on December 17, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Most recently, San Francisco education officials voted to end merit-based admissions at one of the nation’s most prestigious public schools, Lowell High School, and will be switching to a lottery-based system in a purported effort to address racism. (RELATED: San Francisco Board Of Education Votes To End Merit-Based Admissions At One Of The Country’s Most Prestigious Public Schools)