By Nathaniel Ogren
As a senior in the Woodrow Wilson IB program, I had multiple concerns with the article “Can efforts toward equity be unfair? DISD’s new class rank system raises the question” I think it is worth noting that when I step into my IB classes every day, I’m not there because it boosts my rank. I am there because my teachers are passionate about what they do and because the ideas we are presented with are engaging. The IB curriculum asks students to do more than just consume knowledge, it asks us to produce it, and I find that to be an exciting challenge. Just as Mrs. Bishop’s daughter chose to pursue what she wanted, IB students have made the same choice, pursuing the liberal arts education that IB offers. The notion that this is “cheating the system” is somewhat disingenuous.
But that’s not my real problem with the arguments presented in the article. There are undoubtedly problems with the way the ranking system is set up, but the parents of the Lakewood community have been chasing their tails on this issue since May. Pretending that that’s where the injustice at Woodrow Wilson High School lies is simply preposterous. The true injustice at my school does not take place in the top 10 percent, it happens in the bottom 44 percent of students who do not graduate college or workforce-ready, as per last year’s TEA federal report card. If we as a community spend our time arguing about which children of wealth and privilege get to go to which college, when nearly half of Woodrow’s students have been so let down by their school and their district that they wouldn’t be prepared to go to college at all, that is a crushing indictment of how blind we have become to the true problems at the school. Woodrow’s failure as a school is not its ranking system. Its failure is being unable to provide a quality education to the hundreds of disadvantaged students who need it the most.
There are real issues of inequality at Woodrow. Half of our school is economically at risk. There is a gap in life expectancy based on whether students turn right or left when they leave school every day. This is the true divide within the school, not the trite discordance of the IB and AP programs. I admire the activism and involvement of the Lakewood parents in this story. Woodrow is proudly a community school, and that community is built on a partnership between parents, students, faculty and staff. I would simply encourage them, if they are earnest in their desire to create equality at Woodrow, to use their voices—and their dollars—to fight the real injustices that plague the school and help the kids who truly need it.
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