To Whom It Should Concern:
As each classmate of mine got called out of the room one by one, my anxiety rose. I waited until the teachers reached the end of the alphabetized stack of envelopes for them to call my name. As an eighth grader, I feared the thought of being separated from the people and places I knew the best. Yet, the teachers around me were elated as they told me I had been accepted to Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics. They thought I was well equipped to tackle the rigorous math and science courses. They were wrong.
At P.S./M.S. 282, The Park Slope School, the elementary and middle school were divided. The elementary school was a place where the 'children of the rainbow' (children of ethnic and racial diversity), would flock to in order to be in the 'gifted and talented' program (a program I was also in). Yet, the amount of diversity began to dwindle once it was time for the students to matriculate from 5th grade and enter the middle school at 282.
The middle school was located on the 3rd floor and didn't receive the praise of being progressive, like the elementary school. Grades 6-8 were filled with a sea of black and brown faces, a sharp contrast to the rainbow on the floors below.
As an eighth grader, I was put into Regents based math and science classes, which prepared us for the Algebra I & Living Environment Regents exams. Yet the insufficient courses I took, led me to barely passing the Algebra Regents and getting a mediocre score on the Living Environment Regents. In my dilapidated ‘gifted and talented’ classes, I was praised for being one of the only passing students.
But my freshman year at Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics was an academic shock. I finally met my match when I was thrust into Geometry and Chemistry classes. I expected teachers to give me all the information I needed, instead of having to seek it out myself. At the end of my freshman year, I barely passed Chemistry, and ended up failing Geometry and had to take the class over again. My academic career at MCSM has been a bumpy road of not being able to get a grasp on just how rigorous the courses in a selective public high school actually are, and not being able to cope with the constant failure I encountered.
Preparing students for the future should begin in middle school because lessons implemented at a young age stick with us for a very long time. Though public schools in NYC are all governed by the D.O.E., why is it that schools have such different instructional quality and rigor? Why are schools that are more diverse subjected to more academic opportunities? All students in NYC public schools need to have the same academic standards in order to give all students a fighting chance when conquering school.