Ah, the smell of that fortune-cookie-fate sure does ring a bell. It was back in the day when the school counselors and administrators held the ultimate power of your future, with their hands hovering over the factory control levers. One conveyer belt is traveling toward a place where college and high hopes are promised; the other belt is leading in a direction where a college education is not the end goal.
It may be a very Darwinian survival of the fittest outlook on these wild animals we call students, but what can’t we judge from afar?
Flashback to the days before the 90s, when this system called “tracking” was still allowed in schools.
With tracking, students were almost always forever trapped in their predestined path because of the common belief that college selection starts as early as elementary school, meaning you were supposed to carry your lawyer briefcase around instead of wasting your time frolicking on the playground.
Everyone else who didn’t mean business ended up working minimum wage jobs, just as predicted, as if we’re stuck in some constraining caste system.
Can you imagine the same smiling counselors you have today telling you what great opportunities there are and then force-feeding you remedial math classes?
The state once called out AHS for putting kids under the Sorting Hat, sending the process into the “forbidden” pile to be forgotten.
Tracking was banned in the last millennium, enough time for it to be dusted over before present-day students learned of its existence and thank goodness because this elitist-style selection caused ethnic proportions to be lopsided. Yes, ever since the evils of tracking was banned, school systems have made progress. Or so we believe.
Flashback to present-day, where tracking has been eradicated from the education system since two decades ago. There are the Geometry Informal and the Algebra 1A and B courses, which are not classes geared to prepare one for college. We also offer the Calculus BC and Trigonometry Honors classes, for the students who, you know, have the potential to go to college. This is all fine, with the cafeteria-style variety to choose from. The only problem is that not all of us have the choice. This arrangement sounds all too familiar in a time when tracking has been banned for twenty years.
It’s the same game with a different name and it’s a way to filter out the half-hearted from the utopia that supposedly comes from this fool-proof system.
Besides the fact that brief overlooks can skip potential talents and the fact that remainders are ground down into the nothingness of minimum wage jobs, there can’t be anything wrong with telling students that they won’t be able to reach a higher form of education with just their high school schedule. Americans take pride in having people they’ve never met decide everything for them.
Though those put into the lower tracks usually did not argue with the tracking system, only students themselves should decide whether they want to further their education or not.
In fact, all opportunity in life should be like the free candies at the restaurant cash registers: No one is forced to take them and everyone has the choice to take as many as they choose. College is not for everyone, but neither are Tootsie Rolls, school administrators.
There will be people in life whom you’ve never met before who will make the big decisions in your life: Whether or not you want to be resuscitated after an encounter with cardiac arrest; whether or not your boss offers you a promotion; some things are out of your power, but education shouldn’t be one of those things.