Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Intersection of Contest and Sponsored Mobility

According to Turner, America is by and large a country where contest mobility prevails. I agree with Turners assessment as Americans wholeheartedly buy into the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality. That is why it is particularly ironic to find parents and children clamoring to participate in the rare but flagrant examples of sponsored mobility.

Recently, I had the privilege of visiting Whitney High School, a public school in Cerritos for 7-12th graders that is well known for its amazing curriculum rich with AP courses and a talented cadre of teachers some of whom are Whitney alum. Not to mention the schools well developed college center that doubles as the library. The mission of Whitney High School is to “prepare academically proficient students for entrance to and success at their best matched colleges or universities.” By academically proficient the school means only the 13 strongest test-takers at each of the 19 elementary schools located in the same district as Whitney. Once identified these students are invited to join the Whitney community replete with quality college preparatory resources where they will be shaped into tomorrow’s college freshman. Not surprisingly, the parents of the chosen few are quick to make arrangements for their child to attend Whitney, even if that means relocating.

The selection of promising young people to attend Whitney is sponsored mobility at its best but what I find interesting is the thread of contest mobility woven into the selection process. A student is only deemed worthy of Whitney High School after outperforming all the other students in their elementary schools.

1 comment:

Janice Hansen said...

Interesting how they define "academically proficient students" as the 13 best test-takers at each of the feeder schools. Considering ELL and low-SES students tend to not perform as well on standardized, the "contest" playing field is probably not all that level to begin with!