View Full Version : All NYC Teacher Says LaGuardia High School Picks Tests Over Talent

04-22-2014, 05:34 PM
From N.Y. Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/21/nyregion/teacher-says-la-guardia-high-school-picks-tests-over-talent.html) by Al Baker:

His grade point average was high. He was never marked absent or late to class or given detention for poor conduct in middle school.

And when it came time to audition for a spot at LaGuardia High School, Myles R. P. King nailed his dance performances, including a solo number choreographed to “Jungle Jazz” by Les Tambours du Bronx.

“I think I did well,” Myles, 13, said during a recent interview at his home in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. “They were smiling at me a lot and I was, like, very happy.”

The judges awarded him a score of 90 out of 100 in his audition, which he, his mother and the school’s dance faculty assumed would seal his admission into next year’s freshman class, two years behind his sister, Meagan, 15, who is studying dance there.

But it turned out not to be enough. Myles was rejected by the principal of LaGuardia, one of the country’s best-known arts high schools, despite a recommendation from the school’s dance department. He was not alone: Out of the 92 students the dance faculty wanted to accept, the principal, Dr. Lisa Mars, rejected 43 of them, an unusually high ratio, according to a February letter written by the chairwoman of the dance department, Michelle A. Mathesius, to Carmen Fariña, the schools chancellor.

The letter, which was signed by the school’s dance teachers, said that Dr. Mars seemed to be basing admissions on “academic records and test scores” ahead of talent. The principal also decided to let in 25 students who had good grades but had been turned down by the dance department based on their auditions, wrote Ms. Mathesius. She added that she feared the reputation of one of New York City’s most visible schools “is at stake.”

“We find it ironic and extremely worrisome that, in this era of increasing accountability, the most talented children are refused admittance to the very school where their talent could be recognized and developed, while applicants with higher grades and test scores, but less talent, are accepted instead,” she wrote. “Such a practice is more than unjust: it is discrimination, pure and simple, a disservice to the children of this city.”

Dr. Mars came to the school in September from Townsend Harris High School, a high-performing school in Queens, where she was assistant principal of language, art and music. The previous LaGuardia principal, Kim M. Bruno, took over an arts high school in Los Angeles.

When it came time this year to decide whom to admit, Dr. Mars “did not want any help” in reviewing the applicants, and initially rejected 43 students chosen by the dance department, Ms. Mathesius said. In a typical year, she said, the principal would overrule the department on roughly 10 students.

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