Private Schools Have Less Obvious Gaps, Greater Ability to Address

Students reflect on the division they feel

March 9, 2020

Considering Minnesota’s notoriously large academic achievement gap, how might that manifest itself in a private school like Blake? Many students in affinity groups at Blake asserted that such a gap exists, but perhaps not in a manner that mirrors Minnesota as a whole.

When asked about a potential achievement gap at Blake, Yolanda Pauly ’21, member of SHADES and Latinos Unidos affinity groups, asserted, “I think itís present everywhere honestly.” Pauly followed this by adding that while she personally doesnít see the achievement gap at Blake, she thinks that it definitely has a presence.

But while Pauly, a Highcroft alum, mainly focused on the internal factors on the Blake educational experience, Hannah Saeed ’21, a Blake student since 9th grade, mentioned how external factors, such as a studentís educational experience before they come to Blake play into their Blake academic experience. Saeed states, “People who come from schools outside of Blake might have an achievement gap that you know already comes with the package before they even get here like considering the curriculum and the teachers and the funding of the schools they went to before they got to Blake.”

Furthermore, both Pauly and Saeed arrived on a consensus that in scenarios where any such achievement gap manifests itself,  Blake actively seeks to close it. Pauly spoke towards Blake’s role in her academic career as it relates to her identity as a minority, stating, “I definitely feel like, in terms of being supported, as someone of a minority, I feel like there are definitely many people who have reached out just to make sure that there isn’t as much of an achievement gap, that there is less of one.”

Drawing on her experience as a new Blake student freshman year, Saeed felt Blake’s active involvement in the issue from early on. Saeed stated, “I just really think all the deans try their best to make that gap smaller in any way they can, especially if you come here in high school.”

Pauly and Saeed also brought up other instances in which Blake acts as a platform for discourse on diversity, whether it be in the texts we discuss in class or displays in the art gallery such as Louise Ba ’20‘s recent showing. As Pauly stated, “I think that Blake is consistently and actively reaching for a small achievement gap, almost a zero achievement gap.”

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