State view on fairness in vocational schools is an insult
In the article “State Officials Accept Admission Changes for Vocational Schools” (Metro, April 21), Cliff Chuang, Associate Commissioner of Education, states that there are “regional urban schools that have no gaps for students of color â. In fact, a review by the Vocational Education Justice Coalition found that, using state data, none of the 24 regional vocational schools had an equal or greater rate of offerings to applicants of color compared to those of applicants of color. white students. The differences ranged from 1 percentage point to 50 points lower. Similar results were found, with a few exceptions, when comparing low-income students, students with disabilities, and English learners with their more privileged peers.
Chuang goes on to say, “There is also a danger of setting lower expectations for students of color in terms of meeting standards.” What he fails to recognize is that the state-approved selection criteria used by vocational schools are racist. Black and Latinx students are suspended much more often than white students for committing the same offense; low-income students may have attendance problems due to life circumstances; and the grades, recommendations and interviews are influenced by the biases of a group of largely white education and guidance counselors.
It is an insult to suggest that removing discriminatory selection criteria from the admissions process would set low expectations for students of color. This suggestion perpetuates racism.
It is time for the state to join the nationwide race equity movement. The only way to advance towards a level playing field in a society stratified by race and class is through a lottery system.
Juan M. Cofield
NAACP New England Region Conference
The writer is also a member of the board of directors of the NAACP.