Evanston Township High School is putting its money where its mouth is on diversity by proposing a major change that will eliminate a freshman, typically all-white honors English course. The Chicago Tribune is reporting that one of the most racially mixed high schools in Illinois (Evanston Township High School) has a mission of embracing diversity and promoting equity and excellence for all students. But its own data show that few minority students make it into the school's most rigorous courses that will best prepare them for college and the future. Honors classrooms dominated by white students have been common in Illinois and across the nation, a by-product of a century-old and controversial tradition of tracking students into different levels of classes. Evanston Township has proposed something radical to do away with segregated classrooms — eliminating an elite honors English course that has traditionally been offered to the highest-achieving incoming freshmen, usually white. Freshmen of all races and socioeconomic and achievement backgrounds would learn together in the same freshman humanities class, an English course that blends literature, history, art, music and philosophy and is required for graduation. The class would be taught at the honors level, according to district officials, and all students would have the opportunity to earn honors credit, depending on their grades on assignments.
Critics say that having different learning levels in the same classroom would disadvantage "advanced" students and is not a reasonable goal. Proponents say that desegregating classrooms and giving all students an opportunity to work at the honors level is worth the challenge. We think that tracking has been working for one group for a very long time. Isn't it about time that schools start thinking of creative ways to promote high achievement among all racial and economic groups? Some folks are all for diversity until it requires a sacrifice or different way of thinking or doing on their part. If your kid is bright, he or she will still rise to the top — even in a diverse classroom.
Read more at the Chicago Tribune.