GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS:
PREPARING MINORITY YOUNGSTERS FOR COMPETITIVE ACADEMICS
Good news: It can be done, with high efficacy: 85% of those who complete one such program (called “Prep for Prep“)go on to “most selective” colleges. (Of course, “completers” are a biased subsample of a biased sample: not everyone volunteers, and about a quarter drop out.)
Bad news: It’s backbreaking work for the kids: two summers in residential programs, plus eight hours every Saturday for the school year between them.
More bad news: It costs real money, about $35,000 per student.
More bad news: The usual idiots are against it. “These are kids who would have made it anyway; they’re high fliers,” said Jacqueline Ancess, co-director of the National Center for Restructuring Education, at Columbia’s Teachers College. “How does it change the culture from business as usual? Schools are supposed to be the great equalizer.”
Good news (if you’re a Bush fan): The interest of suburban high schools in the program stems from the “No Child Left Behind” legislation, which requires student-achievement breakdowns by race. As a result, a place like Greenwich High can’t use the stellar performance of its white kids to hide poor minority peformance. (That ought to, but won’t, discourage people like Ward Connerly, who’s pushing a proposal to abolish all collection of racial data by the California government.)
Yes, I know that lots of programs work at pilot scale and then crash at production scale. So far, though, this looks like a winner. Let’s see, with 600,000 blacks in an age cohort, if we put 5% of them through such a program at $35,000 a copy, that’s about $1 billion a year. Sounds like a bargain to me.