Thomas Sowell

New York City has two kinds of high school diplomas -- its own locally recognized diploma, that is not recognized by the state or by many colleges, and the state's Regents' diploma for high school graduates who have scored above a given level on the Regents' exam.

The Regents diploma is for students who are serious about going on to a good college. Only 9 percent of black students and 10 percent of Latino students receive Regents diplomas.

That a Southern city's school children would now top the list of big city test scores may be due to the fact that the South has not jumped on the bandwagon of the latest fads in education to the same extent as avant garde places like New York City, where spending per pupil is about 50 percent above the national average.

These fads now include the dogma that racial "diversity" improves education, as does emphasis on racial "identity." In reality, a recent study shows that black students who perform well in racially integrated schools are unpopular with their black classmates. They are accused of "acting white," a charge that can bring anything from ostracism to outright violence.

The same is not true to the same extent among blacks attending all-black schools. Hispanic students' popularity likewise falls off sharply -- even more so than among blacks -- as their grade-point average rises.

Is it surprising that white and Asian American children do better without these self-inflicted handicaps to academic achievement? Is it surprising that New York City schools are now paying the price for avant garde educational dogmas?

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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