Learning Limits

Being from the Bronx, I grew up under the notion that the majority of people went to either public or charter schools and that the very select few, AKA rich white people, had gone to boarding or private schools. The notion of going to a private school and dorming was something that I thought would only be accessible to me through TV, namely Zoey 101, which is a popular show that takes place while the students are at boarding school. It seemed to me that I would just carry out my K-12 years in public school, which I wasn’t really mad or disappointed about. Though it would’ve been amazing to have that kind of experience, I didn’t really dwell on that thought too much as it simply wasn’t realistic. Without even being aware of it, limiting my own potential and “coming to terms with reality”. For me, attending a prestigious school was the same thing as being a millionaire, just a fun little dream. As a kid, in my eyes I had the same chance of being a millionaire as becoming my favorite character from the cartoon shows I watched. With this idea in mind, it wouldn’t make sense to be mad at not being able to attend private or boarding schools because at the end of the day, it’s just not possible.

Don’t get me wrong, public school in of itself isn’t a bad thing, it’s quite good if anything. It allows for kids to learn, socialize, and be protected all while letting their parents do their own thing as well while their kids are in school. The problem lies in the structure of said public school. I can’t say whether funding or staff plays the bigger role in why so many of them fail to benefit our children, but what I can say is that it’s been a longstanding problem that has yet to be solved. The only choice that some minorities have is to carry out their K-12 years in a public school that may not be best suited for them. Even as a kid in elementary school I could see the problems plaguing our public school system. Speaking from my own experience, typically there was one class of kids, usually dubbed the “honors class”, that received more attention and a more rigorous curriculum. While this may seem unfair at first, there was reasoning behind it.

The stigma behind public schools and kids misbehaving is one that I have encountered first hand, with kids disrespecting teachers and fighting each other frequently. Instead of trying to reform the kids, which some teachers actually take the time to do, what the school system would rather do is take the unproblematic kids who are doing good and separate them from the “bad seeds” in order to not jeopardize their education. In theory there’s nothing wrong with this practice. Where the problem lies is that there are many instances where kids who aren’t “bad seeds” get left behind and as a result, get mediocre education even though they can perform at a higher level, they just need a little push. Being in a class with the “bad seeds” and getting mediocre education may instill in their minds that that’s all they’re good for. I’ve had many friends who were excelling in the non honors class in elementary school but still weren’t promoted to join us in honors, which I personally felt was unfair. Obviously there were some instances where someone from the non honors class would join us in the honors class due to stellar academics and vice versa, but it wasn’t as common as it should’ve been. If anything, it shouldn’t have been like that at all. To lock a higher education behind one class per grade instead of having all the classes be taught at that level in of itself is limiting how much they can learn and accomplish. From my time in a private highschool, this was nowhere near the case: the disparity was alarming.

Having an honors class program isn’t the problem, having the non honors classes receive subpar education is. When it comes to education at least, your potential is for the most part set in stone depending on where you go for elementary school. There are some instances in which you can play with the cards you’ve been given and still win, but when you’ve been taught that a bad hand means you lost, what else are you to do but give up?

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