The Secret To Great Secondary Education
Newsweek has released its list of America's best high schools, which reveal one startling key to a great high school: selectively screening all but the highest achieving children.
This is not a lamentation on bias towards smart kids – that's pretty much the last problem you'd ever find with these rankings. Instead, the issue is the idea that there's anything useful to be gained from a ranking system that penalizes schools for providing state-mandated education to all members of the community.
If American high schools could screen for students with high rates of academic success, high likelihood of going to college and home environments that encouraged both of those qualities, then we'd have the best high school system in the world…coupled with a permanent underclass even less mobile than it currently is. While it's great that there are environments for select smart kids to thrive and prosper, the vast majority of American high schools don't have the luxury of refusing to let in students who might mess with the good thing they've got going on.
The nominal purpose of this ranking list is to "highlight solutions" in terms of preparing secondary students for life in the real world. How can you possibly draw any conclusions from a sample of high schools whose entire purpose is to not have to deal with the problems you're attempting to solve?