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A renewed resolution for success

Melvin B. Miller
A renewed resolution for success
“We know that with a little help, these kids will do better on the exam school test.”

Spring is the time of rebirth. With the weather still so chilly in Boston it is difficult to embrace the new season, but Mother Nature knows. In the country the ewes are delivering their lambs, buds on the trees are growing fat with expectation and Vermonters have installed their tree tapping mechanisms to produce maple syrup. However, it is unlikely that many people in the city have taken the time to assess the quarterly progress of their New Year’s resolutions.

The process of living a life with purpose is very demanding. For that reason many people don’t bother. It is much easier simply to go from day to day in the comfort of assumed mediocrity. Of course, few would agree that they have sunk to that level if their achievement status is viewed as generally acceptable. The real question is whether they have become all that they could be.

A primary requirement for success in the process is to answer the question, “what is your purpose in life?” In the flashy, consumer-oriented American society, most responses will imply that the answer is to enjoy a sumptuous lifestyle. When one considers the small percentage of wealthy people in the world, this criterion narrows the options. Even without that consideration, the search for life’s purpose is a challenging quest.

A major responsibility of one’s tribe or culture group is to assist youthful members in their quest. In simple civilizations the job is to train the young in the best techniques for fishing, hunting or raising crops. In more advanced societies the focus will be on developing the arts or academic acumen to be productive. Such skills will be essential for implementing one’s life purpose.

The recent report that only seven black students were admitted to New York’s highly regarded Stuyvesant High School indicates a failure of the black community to prepare their students for admission to New York’s most prominent high school. While only seven of the 895 students admitted were black, 74 percent of New York’s high school population is either black or Latino.

It is easy to assert that New York’s public school system did not prepare black students to perform at a high level on the exam school test, but the same criticism could apply to Asian students. However, Asian families establish as a goal the admission to the exam schools. Consequently, 74 percent of the students admitted to Stuyvesant are Asian, although only about 14 percent of New York’s population is Asian.

It is difficult to believe that so few black students in New York desire to live a life with purpose that requires academic proficiency. Clearly the culture has not ingrained in students the ambition to excel in the classroom. The exam school disparity in New York is equivalent to the admissions rate for Boston Latin School. Asians are only 8.9 percent of Boston’s high school age population, but they occupy 28.6 percent of the seats at Boston Latin School. Black students account for 30.9 percent of the high school population but hold only 7.5 percent of the Boston Latin School student body.

There must be an organized effort to encourage the most promising black students to prepare for the exam school test. Academic success will inspire the young to begin the arduous search for their purpose in life. The goal should be for the results to be more promising next spring.

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