Opportunity Hoarding

I was listening to NPR this afternoon, and they were talking about a new concept to me: opportunity hoarding.

One of the women on the program gave an example. She said that 90% of white students at [a particular high school] were enrolled in AP classes, while only 50% of black students were.

It got me thinking. If, hypothetically, Asians were enrolled in even more AP classes than whites, are they even more guilty of hoarding opportunities? According to the program, we (meaning white people) are all culpable of it, because we’re enmeshed in systemic racism. (Presumably, that includes even students who are not in AP classes.) What should we do to extricate ourselves?

And, if Asians - hypothetically - are even greater opportunity hoarders, how should they be punished?"

In my high school, students who wanted to take AP classes could take them. I don’t recall anyone hoarding any opportunities. I think the person you heard on the radio just gave a bad example.

I did a little googling, and I found this:Finally, the US admits it: AP classes are way too white. It says that in a particular school, 73% of the upper-level math students were white, vs 11.6% black. (It doesn’t say how many were Asian, for some reason.) It goes on to say tracking students is a “new form of re-segregation”.

I haven’t been able to find out about the Asians, but I did find this: “New data from today’s Report also show that 6 in 10 Asian students with a 60 percent or higher likelihood of succeeding on an AP science course took any such AP science course, compared to 4 in 10 white students, 4 in 10 Hispanic/Latino students, 3 in 10 black/African American

And there was this:
Meanwhile, Asian Americans continue to make up the largest portion of California students admitted to UC Berkeley at 42.3 percent. White resident students, the second-largest group, make up 28.4 percent.

It seems like Asians might be bigger “opportunity hoarders” than whites.

Seeing those getting training or opportunities as “hoarding” seems like a bad tactic for either increasing the diversity of use of desirable-but-limited resources (e.g. places in AP classes), or giving minority-status people better chances to succeed. It seems to imply that each member of a particular ethnic group (or what have you) has an obligation to turn down training, education, etc.

Voluntarily refraining from becoming better educated or better trained won’t strike most people as a reasonable expectation. Surely working to provide more education or training spots (rather than trying to shame some people into turning them down) would be more productive.

One, I don’t buy the argument that advanced courses are inherently finite. Kids have to be taught, regardless, and more kids in advanced classes just means fewer in the other classes. In terms of education spending, salaries are the overwhelming expense. Advanced classes only cost more if you insist they be smaller, and they don’t need to be smaller–what kind of fucked up logic says the strongest students should get the most benefit of the smallest student/teacher ratio?

Gatekeeping is a real problem in advanced courses, and there are many ways, explicit and implicit, that it can happen. Some schools just flat out require a certain GPA or teacher recommendation. Others let anyone take the course, but don’t offer much support and let people drop (I cannot tell you how many teachers I’ve heard explain that they make their summer assignments or the first grading cycle difficult to “clear out the deadwood.”) Others require resources that some kids can’t commit–like being available for mandatory labs/tutoring with no transportation provided, buying books/lab supplies they can’t afford. The final method is to just assign a shit-ton of pointless homework that is only really feasible for kids with a full-time support network at home.

A lot of this is because for things like AP, teachers live and die by their pass %, and opening enrollment–truly opening it, which means committing to supporting and keeping the kids you take–is terrifying. Teachers are very prone to imposter syndrome. Even rock stars worry that it’s not really them, it’s that they have “good kids” and if they take a broader range, the whole thing will fall apart. Gather AP teachers together, and the bitching about how they get kids that “don’t belong” begins almost immediately. It’s everyone’s favorite boogieman. Add that to the fact that many people think a tough, exclusive class implies a brilliant instructor and basically every factor is pushing schools towards exclusivity.

For whatever it’s worth, it’s not at all uncommon to have a school where the AP classes are dominated by Asians, the “regular” classes by white kids, and the “on-level” classes by underrepresented minorities. Whatever the OP thinks, that’s by no means a crazy hypothetical.

College Board recognizes this problem. They have been pushing open enrollment for the last decade and certainly the situation has gotten better. However, they still regularly point out that there are some 300,000 kids with PSAT scores that indicate they are ready for AP courses but are not enrolled in any. Presumably some of them have made a choice, but I’ve no doubt that a lot of it is gatekeeping based on what someone thinks an “AP kid” looks like.

I feel pretty passionately that there are a great many students who are underserved because people feel like education has to have an exclusive element to make it valuable. But the solution isn’t to just change which group has access.

I think the OP would be better it provided a definition of “opportunity hoarding”. I’ve had to do my own reading just to find out what it means and how it relates to AP classes.

From this cite: https://www.marketplace.org/2013/10/04/wealth-poverty/problem-opportunity-hoarding:

Pretty much all the qualifications used to “gate keep” elite institutions can be seen in this light. Most kids who receive certain kind of parenting are going to be placed into AP classes. These kids then have a credential they can wave at a university gate-keeper so that they can be accepted with no problem. Then a few years later they become a gate-keeper, in the position to demand applicants demonstrate the “took a full roster of AP classes” credential, or some other credential that only the privilege have access to. It’s like club members only accepting new club members who know the secret club password.

At least when I was in school, students gained admittance to AP classes based primarily on teacher recommendations. My high school offered AP English starting in the 11th grade, so your 10th grade English teacher was the one who’d flag you for the AP class. But if you were taking “general” English, there was no way your teacher was going to recommend you for AP English. Only the honors kids graduated to AP. But everyone knows there aren’t an unlimited of seats in the honors classes. Ultimately, someone has to make the decision that a certain student (or their parents) would be okay being assigned to general English, even though he may have the aptitude for more challenging work. And likewise, someone has to make the decision that even though a particular student would thrive in AP English and may even want to take it, his or her parent wouldn’t make a fuss if they were assigned to honors English. Because there is always a student who has parents who WOULD make a fuss if they were relegated to an “inferior” classroom, and those students must be accommodated before the others. And it so happens that these parents tend to be middle-class and white. Like many of the teachers. Like many of the school administrators.

I don’t think these parents are doing anything wrong. But the end result is wrong. There should be a way for all students to get an education that maximizes their potential.

Don’t gates have a purpose? If you let anyone into an advanced class then what makes it advanced?

I’ve been hoarding opportunities for years now–at last count, I have over 700. But some of them are getting pretty whiffy, and I have problems moving around in my house. I’m beginning to think that I have a problem.

Some people think that if you can’t raise everyone up to the same height, then holding everyone down to the same depth is the next best thing.

The material you teach. I honestly don’t understand how it could be anything else.

The material?? :smack:

This guy is dead wrong. Education isn’t a zero sum game, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Educating more people does not require educating others less.

Anything derived from this “reasoning” is wrong. “Opportunity hoarding” is therefore not a thing. Increasing educational opportunities is a good thing. But removing those opportunities from children who are deemed “too privileged” is a very bad thing.

That’s a funny turn of phrase, though. “It’s kind of a statistical fact … [goes on to recite something entirely non-factual].”

I think the point is that if you let anyone into an advanced class, it doesn’t mean they all get the same amount of knowledge and skill. The students with less aptitude will take more of the teacher’s time getting concepts explained to them that the students with more aptitude, meaning those students don’t get as far into the material.

For an extreme example, consider a calculus class with two students that aced trig. They will probably do quite well and get pretty far into the material. Now consider the same class but add one student that passed Algebra I with a D. The teacher is going to either have to just assume student #3 is going to fail horribly and ignore them, or spend so much time trying to get student #3 up to speed that students 1 and 2 will not get a quality explanation of calculus. Neither is a fair outcome. It’s more appropriate to put student #3 in a remedial class so they can get the education appropriate to their level and students 1 and 2 can get the education appropriate to their level.

Education is not a zero-sum game, but it is resource limited. If you have 1 teacher that can teach the advanced/gifted/AP/IB/whatever class, and 3 teachers that cannot, and you have 100 students, you might be able to justify having 30 kids take the AP class rather than the average of 25, but you won’t be able to justify having 70 kids take the AP class.

Granted, a teacher than can teach the advanced classes can teach non-advanced classes, so getting teachers that can do so would be a plus for the education system. But that costs more money (generally), so there will continue to be that limitation. It seems to make sense that the students with the most aptitude would get into those limited spaces. So long as the aptitude check does not have a racist component, there’s nothing nefarious there. And adding training/procedures/etc to remove or stop racial biases in the aptitude check is not nefarious either.

This is wrong. The economy is not a zero-sum game.

Wrong again. The economy isn’t a ladder and we don’t need to climb over the backs of others. Someone else being rich doesn’t itself stop you from being rich.

The quotes you’ve excerpted show that Dr Reeves is starting from a fundamentally incorrect position. We can therefore safely ignore him.

One, a pre-req is probably the one form of gatekeeping I am okay with. It’s okay to say you have to have had pre-cal before you take calc. But it’s not ok to say you have to have earned an 85. If a kid struggled in pre-cal but* wants to keep going, *you take him. You hold tutoring sessions for student #3 after school, and you adjust your instruction so that he also gets support filling in his gaps in class. And maybe at the end he hasn’t mastered calculus, but he’s likely learned enough to be ready to retake the course in college in be successful. You can do this without sacrificing the education of the other kids. You maybe recalibrate what a"C" is in your courses, but not an A. This isn’t a hypothetical. I’ve taught AP courses in urban schools for 15 years.

I reject this premise. One, there shouldn’t be many teachers who can’t teach an advanced-for-high school course. AP courses are generally matched to college freshman work. Teachers have undergraduate degrees at the least. The content just isn’t that hard. If anything, I’ve known more teachers that could ONLY teach advanced classes–because they were either unable or unwilling to teach reluctant, struggling students. The idea that advanced classes are so rigorous that only the elite teachers and elite students can swing them is a very harmful myth.

I agree with most of what you say but I don’t necessarily agree that this is god or bad. If any math teacher can teach the AP version of the class and if any history teacher can teach the AP version of the class then I agree. But if AP teachers are a scarcer resource than their non-AP counterparts then that makes AP classes a scarce resource and there might not be enough seats for everyone that wants to take the class. Then how do you distribute those seats?

Find teachers that can teach the classes your kids want to take, or train the ones you have. Have bigger sections of the advanced classes. Let’s say there weren’t enough math teachers, period. You wouldn’t say “oh well, some % of the freshmen just don’t get algebra”–that would clearly be unacceptable. And if you had enough math teachers, but some of them said they just couldn’t teach geometry, you wouldn’t use that as a reason not to offer geometry, you’d tell them teaching geometry is part of their job and they needed to learn how to do it.

And finally, as I said above, I’m not actually sure it’s harder to find an adequate AP teacher than an adequate regular teacher. It might be that parents complain about a shitty AP teacher, but no one complains about a shitty regular-track Algebra 1 teacher, whose students are all from households that don’t know to complain, so they use that slot to dump the person who can’t teach anything, but that’s not at all the same thing.

AP and IB teachers have to have certs and training, which school districts generally pay for, and they also generally want to get paid more for having those things, which school districts are also going to pay for. But you’re a teacher, and you already know this, and pretending that advanced classes aren’t limited is a very harmful myth.

Neither AP nor IB require certifications. Where did you get the idea that they did?

There are lots of training opportunities available, and those help you be good at your job, but they aren’t required.

Why do so many poor Asian students know the secret password?

Wait, so you seem to be saying that pushy white parents bitch and moan their kids into better classes and black parents don’t and the “gatekeepers” are also white so perhaps they are more receptive to bitching and moaning from white parents. So less qualified or equally well qualified white kids are getting into AP classes over better or equally qualified black kids because the white parents bitch and moan. :dubious:

I don’t think white parents are any pushier than black parents at a particular school and considering how segregated our public schools are (that’s a separate issue) ISTM that while there may be a problem associated with resourcing black school versus white schools but I am very skeptical that this is happening on a wide scale national level.

Are Asian parents also pushy like the white parents? Perhaps the issue isn’t pushiness, perhaps the issue is a cultural ignorance of what parts of the academic formula are important to the academic success of a child. I’ve seen this problem in the white Appalachia parts of Virginia and I suspect it exists in other communities without a long and strong history of focus on academic achievement, like the white middle class or the chopstick Asians. The Appalachian parents want their kids to do well in school but they don’t really understand how to achieve that or even a very deep understanding of what it means to do well in school. They are blind men trying to teach their kids to paint and all their close friends and family are blind as well. So their kids do almost all of their learning during school hours.

Assuming resources are scarce, how should these resources be allocated? Putting aside for a moment that everyone is a human being and every child is precious, these children also represent a societal investment in human capital.