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Jul 05th
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Newsweek’s Best High Schools in America list lacks diversity

newsweek062111_optBY PAM LOBLEY

Newsweek Magazine has just released its rating of the top 1,000 public high schools in the country. Our own New Jersey is home to 36 of those schools.

High Technology High School in the Lincroft section of Middletown was the highest-ranked Garden State school, finishing 18th, according to the magazine's website. Bergen County Academies, a magnet school, was ranked 23rd nationally.

I love to read these things because I’m obsessed with good schools. That is, I live in Bergen County and pay super high property taxes just so that my kids can go to excellent schools, so I am constantly checking these types of rankings to find out where my local schools stand.

My local high school was rated No. 1246 last year. (Last year the list was 1623 schools long; this year it is only 1000). Our ranking this year is 298. Now, this thrills me, because my son will be starting there in the fall. However, what did the school do to jump 1,000 points in the ranking? How is that even possible?

Well, for one thing, Newsweek changed its methodology this year, in part to reflect the challenges of super-strapped school budgets. In past years they have based their ratings primarily on how hard school staffs work to challenge students with advanced placement college-level courses and tests. This year, they based their ratings on a mix of graduation rates, college matriculation rates, AP tests taken per graduate, number of AP classes offered, SAT/ACT scores, and AP/IB/AICE scores.

This makes sense to me, because AP courses are only one part of what makes a great high school.

The top two schools on the list this year are in Dallas: School of Science and Engineering Magnet and School for the Talented and Gifted Magnet. OK … well … “magnet” means students have to test into the school. The school only accepts a certain level of student, so OF COURSE their student is body is going to excel.

Bergen Academies in Hackensack gets approximately 1,400 applications each year and accepts 260 students. They are basically taking the top 3% of Bergen County students, so is it any surprise they are ranked so highly? That’s like serving filet mignon for dinner and claiming to be a great cook. You need to give a little credit to the filet.

With that in mind, the Newsweek list is laden with magnet and special schools. Out of the top 50 schools, 16 have names that include “magnet”, “academy,” “charter,” or “college prep.” Many others are referred to as math or science schools, implying a heightened academic level for acceptance. These are not your ordinary local high schools. “Public” high school to me means just that … the public. Its kids in the neighborhood. The rich kids, the working class kids, the immigrants’ kids, the middle class kids.

It’s great to celebrate these schools (did I mention mine is 298?) but this list just brings up the sad disparity of education in America. How many schools never had a chance to get on this list because they can’t hold a candle to magnets or charters? My school is ranked highly but, as I mentioned, I pay high property taxes. They go up every year. That’s because the families that live here vote to increase them to keep the schools strong. We are effectively paying out of our pockets for these schools.

Comments (12)
12 Monday, 27 June 2011 12:23
You write that diversity is the key to success. Would you be so kind as to explain to us how (racial) diversity is an advantage? You've been brainwashed. Read "White Identity" by Jared Taylor. It might be just the cure you need.
11 Saturday, 25 June 2011 22:45
It is refreshing to see so many posters here unafraid to make true statements, even though the statements may not be "politically correct."
10 Saturday, 25 June 2011 20:56
I am a student at Bergen County Academies, and I, for one, am proud of the diversity present in my school. Many of my friends are asian and black, while I myself am white. To say that diversity hurts a school is horrifically false - diversity is the key to success. Perhaps public schools are hurting because many kids are hateful and driven by hate revolving around racism, homophobia, etc. At BCA, everyone is accepting of everyone, and, not to be elitist, but that was never anything I experienced in public school (and by the way, my previous schools were white-dominated, so that just throws your racist theories out the window).
9 Saturday, 25 June 2011 14:41
The common denominator among all the failing and violent schools, cities, communities are blacks and Latinos.

Face it...Asians, Caucasians, etc. are just smarter and more civilized.
8 Saturday, 25 June 2011 14:04
Giana Santana
While some of these comments may be deemed as racist, they only reflect a sad reality that threatens the success of children whose parents care about their education. My daughter has attended diverse public schools all of her life but I am careful about how the percentages play out. I have experienced the disruption of classes, violence and stealing that goes on in public schools where the majority of the kids are Black and Latino and as a Latina myself, I know damned well that if I want my child to succeed, school has to be about education and not self-defense. Ever been told you were “trying to act White” because you got an “A”? That’s just another of the perks of going to school with losers. I am not against diversity. Without it, my child would have no choice but to go to school with thugs. I am against diversity that threatens my child’s education.

What makes some Latino and Black students less desirable in a school? The PARENTS. What makes for a crappy school? The kids parents not invested in their child send to it. My kid has been read to since she was old enough to sit up, she had toys and she had BOOKS and parents that read to her and modeled the behavior of reading themselves. Don’t have time to read to your kid? Check out the “One Minute Bedtime Stories” series. That’s what I did when I was too tired and didn’t think I could get a story in. Poverty is not an excuse and neither is a lack of education .. My father got a 5th grade education. That’s it. He taught me how to read in Spanish and as much math as he knew. He read every night and we did the same and now my kid does it. We struggle financially but we take full advantage of the public libraries available to us all. We get books and DVDs on any subject we have an interest in. All free. We’re at the library about once a week. There is no tv at my house during the week while school is in session. EVER. We started this policy from 1st grade on up and she is now a freshman in High School. She has never had anything lower than a “B” and the majority of her grades are “A”s. She’s not a brainiac. She’s of average intelligence, she just does her work and knows she has parents that will not put up with her acting up in any way at school. She has been taught to respect her elders, because we respect OURSELVES. We meet her teachers, let them know we are here, that she has parents that are invested in her education and don’t expect her teachers to be her parents. That’s MY job. To lose sight of that is to lose sight of my culture and heritage as a Latina and my responsibility as an American. If we can stop blaming and pointing fingers and listing what we can’t do and focus on what, we, as parents, CAN do we can give our children the education they have to have if they are ever going to make something of themselves.

I do not let my child go to school where the majority of the students are not White or Asian. It’s unsafe and it is detrimental to her education and I’m not having it. You can call it racist all you want. My kid will reap the benefits while you get to live in your fantasy land.

She attends a school in the top 400 on Newsweek’s list. We have moved 4 times in the last 10 years as demographics changed in the neighborhoods we lived in. We are doing our level best to produce a human being that can function and be an asset to our family and society and if I have to move to where the best school are like a nomad wandering the desert, you better believe I will.
7 Saturday, 25 June 2011 09:43
Common Sense Dude
What did you expect? Many black and Latino kids do not take their education seriously and their communities have more violence and fatherless homes.

Many blacks blame White people for their failures. Black kids can memorize lyrics to every major rap song and can learn to play sports but can't learn to read or do math? Hmm...

It bothers me how they believe that due to slavery, which most Whites had nothing to do with, that we should just give them inflated grades and test scores, home ownership, jobs that they do not qualify for, and punish Whites for success.

It annoys me how even though blacks are usually so unproductive and disorderly in school, many White kids who go to school with them consider them to be the "cool kids" and how all these young White girls want to mess with them as a way to rebel against their parents and society. And we wonder why racism carries over.

When White kids go to school with a majority of their own, they will be more likely to focus on learning rather than trying to fit in with the "cool kids."

My mother is a school teacher and she admits that the behavior problems, fights, and drug activity have skyrocketed as the Whites are leaving and Blacks are the majority. There were even black elementary school kids playing with a used condom on the playground at her school. (No, I am not joking).

DC public schools get more money than any public school district. So this proves that lack of government funding is not the cause of inner city schools and minority dominated schools failing like many brainwashed Liberals believe.

Maybe it is simply a reality that diversity sells and looks good on paper, but it really does not work or at best, only works in small, limited amounts.

You can't force children to want to learn and we should not be busing kids back in forth the way they did back in the 1970's in PG County Maryland and in many inner cities that caused White Flight to occur and ruined these public school districts.

Sorry for being harsh. But the truth can hurt.
6 Saturday, 25 June 2011 06:50
John Standos
Tom brings up a good point about University High School in Irvine. It could be called a diverse school in that 45% of its students are Asian, and 35% of them are white. I would bet good money that the best high schools in America are overwhelmingly white, Asian, or white and Asian.
5 Saturday, 25 June 2011 06:34
Trying to teach black kids is like trying to make a cat a vegetarian!
4 Friday, 24 June 2011 20:09
If those schools were "diverse," they would no longer be good schools! Putting blacks in ANY academic setting is it's demise!
3 Friday, 24 June 2011 19:51
The more diversity, the worse the school.
2 Friday, 24 June 2011 18:32
Antoine Bryant
When you're school starts getting an overload of Latino and Black students that particular school will no longer be on the nation's top high school list lmao.
1 Wednesday, 22 June 2011 10:07
Tom Lancaster
The #8 school on Newsweek's list is University High School in Irvine, California. "Uni" (as it is affectionately called) is a true neighborhood public school that accepts every student from its attendance area. With 2400 students, not only does Uni offer a complete high school experience to all of its students (sports teams, bands, clubs, drama, etc., etc., etc.) but it is also the home of the Orange County School for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing, whose students are fully integrated with the overall student body. No "lack of diversity" here!

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