Calling on BPS To Scrap The Test

Coronavirus, Education

Lawyers for Civil Rights Calls On Boston Public Schools To Scrap Test For The O’Bryant, Boston Latin Academy and Boston Latin School In Light Of COVID-19 Pandemic and the Racial Digital Divide

Urges School District To Follow Its Own Task Force Recommendation

Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) calls upon Boston Public Schools (BPS) to adopt the unanimous June 20 recommendation of the BPS Opportunity and Achievements Gaps Task Force not to administer any admission test in Fall 2020. For too many years, a discriminatory admissions process centered on the entrance exam has led to significant racial disparities in exam school admissions. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed our inequities even further and left countless children without the academic and socio-emotional support they need to learn and thrive. It is unfair to subject students with vastly unequal access to the internet, personal technology devices, and individual textbooks — while struggling with food and housing insecurity — to an entrance exam that will determine their educational future. 

If BPS elects to administer an examination in Fall 2020 — which it should not — at the very least the district must minimize the role of the exam in the admissions process making it only one factor among others. It must also actively engage and meaningfully incorporate Black and Latinx families and community groups in every phase of any proposed testing process.      

Over the past three years, LCR and our community partners, including the NAACP – Boston Branch, have repeatedly advised BPS that several constitutionally permissible admission alternatives exist, including inviting a top percentage of students in each public school or Boston zip code to attend the BPS high school of their choice, or employing a holistic model to evaluate students individually. All of these proposals are aligned with state and federal law and would yield a high-performing student body reflective of BPS’ diverse student population. 

LCR also supports and endorses the NAACP – Boston Branch’s petition calling this admissions process “the definition of racial injustice.” As the petition explains, if BPS does not suspend the test, Black and Latinx students will be harmed and will “feel the impact for a lifetime.”

Now more than ever, with racial justice at the fore of the national conversation and with the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting profound racial inequalities, we must deliberately and intentionally diversify and democratize access to the O’Bryant, BLA, and BLS to help Boston’s Black and Latinx children see themselves reflected in all our public institutions. 

We urge BPS to make the right and equitable decision for all students and to adopt in full the Task Force’s recommendation to eliminate the Fall 2020 entrance exam.