EDITORIAL: Tam Diversified

EDITORIAL%3A+Tam+Diversified

By Tam News Staff

Tam’s administration is implementing a “Big Brother/Sister” program that pairs graduated students with ninth and tenth grade students who are struggling in school and have problems with attendance. This program aims to help students attend school more frequently, and also direct them towards programs at school that the students might find more engaging.

We at the Tam News would like to praise the administration for taking a big step to assist students who are at risk by helping them find a community for them within Tam.

There are many programs at Tam that are known for the sense of community that they provide, and the connections that people form as a result in participating in these programs. What many of these programs seriously lack, the Tam News included, is diversity.

Many of Tam’s most well-known programs consist overwhelmingly of white, high-achieving students. Mock Trial, for example, has only three non-white students out of 26 participants. AIM has 12 non-white students out of about 70 participants. In the Tam News, we only have seven students of color out of 60 in our program. Programs, particularly ones such as the Tam News, which rely on the points of view of many of their participants in order to generate content, suffer if the members of the program are not diverse enough to provide a representative sampling of the student body as a whole, rather than a small, very specific subset of the school population.

It doesn’t matter how many awards and accolades a program receives if it is only servicing an increasingly elite section of the student body. Tam High is a public school, an institution based on an egalitarian premise. Everybody involved in specialized programs at our school, both students and teachers should be doing their best to include a wide range of students.

We’re supposed to be serving the entire student body, and we’ve failed in that mission if the only people who participate in the programs that are prized by the wider community are people that meet a very selective set of criteria. This is potentially enforced by a formal selection process, potentially can be like those of AIM and Mock Trial, but often it is caused by self-selection and social norms. The Tam News class, for example, does not require any prerequisite or an application, but our program is comprised of mostly white students. This has a negative impact on our ability to cover the school as a whole, because crucial perspectives are missing from our class discussions and brainstorms.

In the past, diversity has been a hot topic of conversation when it comes to specialized programs in our district. In the spring of 2013, the administration considered cancelling the Team program because of concerns it was predominantly comprised of whit, privileged students. This decision was taken off the table after many families expressed their strong opinions about the benefits of the Team program and the opportunity to increase diversity in the program.

The Tam News would like to see a greater diversity of students in the various programs that Tam offers. This diversity not only provides opportunities to underrepresented groups of Tam students, but also improves the quality of the program for all involved by incorporating multiple perspectives.

We hope that the Big Brother/Sister program becomes an avenue through which programs at Tam become more diverse, and we advocate that every possible step be taken to ensure the continued success of the Tam’s partnership with their organization.