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Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Horrifying High School Gameshow


The further I get into high school, the more I realize how similar it is to the game shows I used to watch on TV as a kid. Competitors are pitted against each other to see who will remain the last man standing and win the jackpot. However, in this case, the jackpot is getting into a “selective university” or better yet an “ivy-league school.” Being knocked won’t just leave you wet or drenched in slime, but instead with shattered dreams and aspirations mixed with feelings of shame and self-hatred. But just like all those gameshows on TV, the true winners aren’t the last man standing who wins the jackpot of a vacation or a jet ski. It’s the producers, directors and hosts who make millions of dollars airing the show. The true winners are the companies and colleges profiting off the system that built this horrifying high school gameshow.

            A name that almost every college-bound high school student in the United States will recognize is the College Board. The College Board is the “non-profit” organization that has monopolized the testing and the advanced placement course industry. It is known for conducting the SAT, PSAT, SAT Subject Tests, and all AP courses, which are all things that most students couldn’t go a full day without hearing about. Not to mention, many colleges also recommend many of these things in the application process. Although at first glance, the College Board seems to be a very honest and benevolent organization whose only goal is to create a more equal opportunity for everyone. As their mission statement says, they aim to be what “connects students to college success and opportunity. However, a deeper look into the organization creates skepticism on their true motives. The organization earns tens of millions of dollars in net profit every year with executive board members earning upwards of three-hundred thousand dollars per year and CEO David Coleman starting with a base of five-hundred and fifty thousand dollars per year. It could be argued that although the higher-ups in the company are making large sums of money, the organization also saves large amounts of money for students when entering college with AP credits. However, often times these AP courses are not even up to par with college level standards, leaving students to fail later on. As U.S Representative of Massachusetts John F. Tierney puts it, the College Board’s non-profit status and their AP tests are, “one of the greatest frauds currently perpetrated on American high-school students.”

            Aside from the organizations who profit from the game as if they are the producers and score-keepers of this game, there are also the colleges themselves who are the directors and hosts in the sense that they benefit directly from the excitement of students prospecting to attend their school. Even before high school truly begins, students already begin to get letters and emails from colleges and universities about their various programs. Examples like Duke TIP often greatly excite students who believe that being in these programs will give them a leg-up in the admissions process for these schools. However, that’s often not the case. In fact, as Diane Epstein of Bethesda put it, “Colleges want more applicants. The more that apply, the more they can reject, the more selective they look in the rankings.” On top of this, these programs often also cost thousands of dollars. Four weeks at NYU over the summer costs over $8000. Students are being fooled and robbed in broad daylight without even knowing it in this system.

            The icing on the cake of this grand metaphor are the college consultants who are like the advertisements. These consultants are specifically hired by parents and students passionate to a point of desperation to get into the schools of their dreams. And as many of these people have noticed, this desperation can be an extremely lucrative venture. Many charge $10-30k per year with the promise of getting their clients into top-notch schools. However, the means of achieving these goals are not through creating a better learning environment or pursuing ones passions, but they are instead made through “resume building.” By this, I mean doing things such as creating fake clubs and organizations in the hopes of seeming more proactive and beneficent to admissions officers. This not only creates stress for the student who has to create and lead a multitude of endeavors they are likely not passionate about, but it also builds an extreme amount of pressure for other students to catch up with their own resumes. This creates a dangerous circle where more and more students go to these college consultants seeking to get ahead; this means more money for the consultants and more pressure in high schools.

            High school is no longer just a stage of education but an industry. As money creeps into every part of the system driven by competition to get ahead, the problem just grows worse. Companies, colleges and counselors, these are the ones who created this gameshow and they are the ones who profit from it the most. A better system for the college process is not just needed but necessary. The longer we wait, the greater the stress and pressure builds up in the lives of millions of high schoolers. The key is that everything in this game is driven by competition and drive from students and parents, creating a rat race of people willing to do anything to get ahead of one another. While we, the students, are the contestants, we act as if we are the audience. It’s time we voice the problems with this lucrative game and act on them. It’s time we end this rat race.

A Disastrous Decision- DACA Repeal

            DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is a policy that was passed under the Obama Administration in 2012 as a way for the children of illegal immigrants to be able to come out of the shadows and live the true American dream. This is done by providing two-year work permits to all those eligible under the policy. Those eligible under DACA must have entered the country below the age of 16 and be under the age of 31 as of July 15, 2012 as well as not having any severe misdemeanor record. In other words, DACA was a solution put into place to give the hundreds of thousands of undocumented children and young adults in the US the ability to have a brighter and more hopeful future. Rightfully, this generation of people without a country to call their own but with a future for their own have been coined as the “Dreamers.”

            The effect that DACA had for the Dreamers is undeniably tremendous. A recent study in the well-respected Journal of Public Economics estimates that not only increased the average income of undocumented immigrants at the bottom of the income distribution, but it also put somewhere between 50,000 and 75,000 undocumented immigrants into employment. An economist from the University of California, Davis concluded that DACA, “increases consumption and overall demand of US services, products, and jobs where the DACA recipients live and spread.” This massive increase in employment and demand has an obvious impact on the US economy as well.  With those under DACA buying their first cars, homes and more, even people who are not directly affected by DACA are being positively impacted. At least they were…

            During the 2016 election campaign, President Trump made several claims about how DACA was the reason for unemployment in America. His argument was that undocumented immigrants are taking away jobs from US citizens. By saying this, he gained the votes of millions of unemployed workers in the US while simultaneously breaking the hearts of many Americans and causing economists from across the world to cringe. Trumps argument, although it may seem legitimate at first, is based around the “lump of labor” fallacy. This assumes that there is a limit to the size of a workforce in an economy. This was proven to be definitively incorrect over a century ago by economist David Frederick Schloss, who concluded that the amount of work in an economy is not fixed. However, the illegitimate claims he made did not stop the momentum he’d already built amongst his loyal supporters. Since then Trump has continued to push for the removal of DACA in office. 

             Last Tuesday, September 5th 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions officially announced that DACA has been rescinded after being ruled "unconstitutional" by the 5th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals under similar claims as DAPA(Deferred Action for Parents Arrivals) was rescinded.

This decision will not only be catastrophic towards the massive community of Dreamers who were making a future for themselves in what they see as the “Land of Opportunity,” but it is also a blow towards the United States both economically and socially. The CATO Institute found that the removal of the DACA program will have a negative impact of about $280 billion on tax revenue. That’s right…tax revenue. This loss may lead to increased taxes for the rest of American citizens, or simply fewer investments into our struggling infrastructure. Not only this, but by deporting hundreds of thousands of educated and passionate workers is extremely counter-productive. As theorized by Giovanni Peri, Chair of the Department of Economics and UC Davis, the loss of DACA-educated workers, who the US economy has already invested in through public education, will result in a loss $433 billion over the next decade. On top of all of this, the morality that the US is portrayed to have towards hard-working immigrants and people escaping dangerous situations will be completely shattered. We will be seen as a cold-blooded nation by our allies for abandoning people who call our country their home. Pope Francis has already explained that a decision that involves abandoning children is not “pro-life.” If Trump is truly pro-life, the Pope advised that he rethink his decision.

DACA is a program that was one of the few programs in the last decade that was truly successful. It had bi-partisan approval within Congress when introduced by President Obama, and it has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of “Dreamers” across the nation. The removal of DACA truly shows a negative shift in the decision making of United States government based around the idea of knocking others down rather than building each other up. Instead of building off of the successes of the previous administration, Trump decided to crush it, removing any signs of it. Not only does this make him look more powerful amongst his supporters, but it also shows to them that he is willing to act on the things he said on the campaign trail, whether the decision be based on fact of fallacy. That is horrifying. However, this decision will come with consequences. As the economy begins to fall, taxes begin to rise, and the rest of the world begin to laugh in our faces, it will be clear what went wrong.

-Chow D.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Research into the Comparision of Gifted Schools Nationally

As you may know, I've been doing a project regarding diversity at Pine View. The key part of my project to increase diversity would be to modify the enrollment system in a way where every child is given an equal chance to apply. This means finding the key point in the current application process which results in a smaller pool of African American students passing than any other ethnicity. An article I read pointed out that in the current system at Pine View, only 1 in 50 black students pass compared to an average of 1 in 7 white students. This is what raised my doubt in the current system and it is what I believe may attribute to the diversification of Pine View if fixed correctly.

Another key realization I made was the fact that Pine View is not nearly the only school in the US who has this problem. Several of the nation's top filtered or "gifted" schools have issues with diversity. This is valuable information because being able to pinpoint common ground among all these schools would be crucial to identifying the root of the problem in our own community and how to solve it.

I also created a diversity scoring tool which compares the demographic percentages of minority groups in a school and compares them to the county. The closer the demographics of the school are to the county in the minority groups, the better the diversity score is. The score ranges between 0-100, however neither 0 nor 100 will ever truly be reached. Those numbers identify the ideal diversity where the demographics exactly match that of the county to the person. I will further explain the algorithm of this calculator in another article.

However this calculator is important in the process I took in organizing the list I created of the top 50 high schools in the nation, with a similar application process as Pine View, according to US News being ranked by my diversity grader. I have posted the chart below:

School Name District/County of School Ranking US News Ranking Diversity Score
Young Women's Preparatory Academy
Miami-Dade County Public Schools
1 52 96.60
Jericho Senior High School Jericho Union Free School District 2 67 96.10
School Without Walls High School District Of Columbia Public Schools 3 84 93.20
Whitney High School ABC Unified School District 4 14 92.20
Design and Architecture Senior High Miami-Dade County Public Schools 5 22 89.60
Hawthorne Math and Science Academy Hawthorne School District 6 66 88.00
University High School (Tolleson) Tolleson Union High School District 7 21 87.90
Lowell High School San Francisco Unified School District 8 59 87.10
Preuss School UCSD San Diego Unified School District 9 54 82.10
Rye High School Rye City School District 10 90 80.90
School of Science and Engineering Dallas Independent School District 11 9 79.90
International Studies Preparatory Academy Miami-Dade County Public Schools 12 30 78.60
International School Bellevue School District 13 41 78.60
DSST: Stapleton High School Denver Public Schools 14 97 76.60
Gilbert Classical Academy High School Gilbert Unified District 15 29 70.80
Suncoast Community High School School District of Palm Beach County 16 53 70.50
Booker T. Washington SPVA Dallas Independent School District 17 92 66.80
Peak to Peak CHARTER School Boulder Valley School District  18 33 63.90
Hume Fogg Magnet High School Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools 19 58 63.60
University High School(Tucson) Tucson Unified District 20 15 63.50
Walnut Hills High School Cincinnati Public Schools 21 47 63.30
Dr. Ronald E McNair High School Jersey City Public Schools 22 49 63.30
Alexander W. Dreyfoos Junior School of the Arts School District of Palm Beach County 23 78 62.50
Benjamin Franklin High School New Orleans Public Schools 24 70 62.10
Philip J. Weaver Ed Center Guilford County Schools 25 39 61.10
Mission San Jose High Fremont Unified 26 76 61.00
Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology Gwinnett County 27 34 60.00
IDEA Frontier College Preparatory IDEA Public Schools 28 55 60.00
Walter Payton College Preparatory High School Chicago Public Schools 29 64 60.00
Edgewood Jr/Sr High School Brevard Public Schools 30 50 59.70
Westshore Junior/Senior High School Brevard Public Schools 31 31 59.00
Tesla STEM High School Lake Washington School District 32 28 57.30
Carnegie Vanguard High School Houston Independent School District 33 8 56.90
Northside College Preparatory High School Chicago Public Schools 34 40 54.50
DeBakey High School for Health Professions Houston Independent School District 35 18 53.70
Stanton College Preparatory School Duval County Public Schools 36 36 53.10
School for the Talented and the Gifted Dallas Independent School District 37 4 49.80
International Community School Lake Washington School District 38 80 49.70
Julia R. Masterman Secondary School School District of Philadelphia 39 51 48.00
Pine View School Sarasota County Schools 40 13 45.60
Loveless Academic Magnet Program High School Montgomery County 41 57 43.60
Boston Latin School Boston Public Schools 42 42 41.80
Central Magnet School Rutherford County 43 37 40.30
Oxford Academy Anaheim Union High 44 12 36.80
Early College at Guilford Guilford County Schools 45 62 27.80
Thomas Jefferson School for Science and Technology Fairfax County Public Schools 46 6 27.20
Liberal Arts and Science Academy Austin Independent School District 47 27 23.90
Academic Magnet High School Charleston County School District 48 11 20.70
Bronx High School of Science New York City Public Schools-District 10 49 46 17.40
High Technology High School Monmouth County Vocational School District 50 16 6.50

*Note: The scores in this table should be only taken to 2 significant figures and are only rough estimates using diversity data from

Although several of the schools on this list have a ranking on US News well above the top 50, the reason for this is that I had to actually take the top 100 high schools and identify 50 that had an application process similar to that of Pine View. This also led to the decision of removing all the New York City schools whose application process for their schools is very different from the Pine View. I will also attach the original document of the scores that all the top 100 got that I calculated with the scorer.

My plan after this is to separately explore the processes in applying to each of these schools much more thoroughly. Then, by comparing them al to one another, I will hopefully be able to find something that each of them share. This process will be for another article however. I encourage you to look out for it, because it will be critical in taking the next step towards a more diverse future for Pine View and possibly other schools facing the same problem around the nation.

Link to document of Top 100 ranked using diversity calculator:!AuU8iPdfWb_dmXrgH7BY4POaWTkI

*Note: Many charter schools in the top 100 were not able to be scored due to not being able to find diversity data of their surrounding counties


The Horrifying High School Gameshow

            The further I get into high school, the more I realize how similar it is to the game shows I used to watch on...