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Posted at 6:55 PM ET, 11/29/2010

Avoiding the achievement gap in Prince George's

By Victor A. Kwansa, Riverdale

As a black male Harvard Law student from Prince George’s County, I was drawn to The Post’s recent articles about the national black-white male achievement gap, as well as Prince George’s experience with No Child Left Behind’s student transfer policy. [“Report calls attention to achievement gap between black and white male students,” Nov. 9; “Student transfers from failing schools via No Child law swamp successful ones,” Nov. 23].

Since I doubt that I would have sidestepped the achievement gap if I had not gone to the better schools in the county, I can truly sympathize with local parents who have transferred their children to higher-performing schools. In my own case, my mother waited in line for 10 hours to ensure that my brother (and later myself) could go to a magnet elementary school instead of the neighborhood school that was literally across the street from our apartment. Given my strong elementary school foundation, I was better positioned to test into one of the best high schools in the county and thereby gain access to courses that were at a high enough level to allow me to break through the glass ceiling.

Since I know that there was nothing special about me compared to other children in the county, I look forward to the day when Prince George’s schools have changed to such a great extent that students will not have to change schools in order to succeed.

By Victor A. Kwansa, Riverdale  | November 29, 2010; 6:55 PM ET
Categories:  PG County, Prince George's County, education, schools  
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Comments

Agreed. In talking about the need for reform, NYC Schools Chancellor often asks people to raise their hands if they'd be willing to have their own children randomly assigned to a district school. So far, no one has.

Posted by: iyc_nyc | December 1, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Agreed. In talking about the need for reform, NYC Schools Chancellor often asks people to raise their hands if they'd be willing to have their own children randomly assigned to a district school. So far, no one has.

Posted by: iyc_nyc | December 1, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Author sez: "Since I know that there was nothing special about me compared to other children in the county...."
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

That hardly seems likely. By definition, going to Harvard Law(!) implies strongly that you are indeed special, and likely were so, even as a youngster. Or, regrettably, it implies that Harvard Law School's admissions requirement for blacks are so much lower than for whites that you were, perhaps, not special at all, compared to your early cohort in PG. Or, each could be true in part: you are special, were special and also received the benefit of racial preferences in admission.

I don't know you, so I can't know which answers are most accurate. But claiming you were 'just another kid from PG' who happened to end up at Harvard Law because your mom once stood in line for ten hours seems more than a little bit ridiculous, especially given how egalitarian you seem to wish to appear.

Even if affirmative action was a helping *factor* in your admission, you still ought to take pride and credit in getting into one of the nation's most elite institutions. That's harder, though, and is more than a shame, because such policies have forever tainted your legitimate accomplishment. And the result, while mixed, is not really too fair to you, either, since you did not presumably have the practical option of rejecting any racial preferences extended--explicitly or implicitly--by Harvard. Unfair to all concerned, I'd say.

A dilemma intrinsic to racial preferences of any kind.

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | December 2, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

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