Alfie Kohn on the Meaning of Selective Admissions

An article very relevant to the debate over public subsidies for private schools in Quebec…

Whom We Admit, What We Deny

“If we can’t reliably identify potential — that is, predict future impressiveness — in a 14-year-old, much less a 4-year-old, then we end up evaluating children on the basis of what they’ve already done.  And that disproportionately reflects the family’s socioeconomic status.  Even when we think we’re selecting on other criteria, we’re mostly privileging privilege, and therefore reproducing it in another generation.  The troubling truth is that selective schools help to perpetuate the deep inequities that define our society, not just failing to make things better but actively making them a little worse (notwithstanding piecemeal diversity efforts).  There are the elect, who merit the benefits of our talented faculty and terrific facilities; and then there’s everyone else — filed under ‘not a good fit’.”

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