This is a letter that Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John in 1797:
I have been much diverted with a little occurence which took place a few days since and which serve to shew how little founded in nature the so much boasted principle of Liberty and equality is. Master Heath has opend an Evening School to instruct a Number of Apprentices Lads cyphering at a shilling a week, finding their own wood and candles.
James desired that he might go. I told him to go with my compliments to Master Heath and ask him if he would take him. He did and Master Heath returnd for answer that he would. Accordingly James went.
After about a week, Neighbour Faxon came in one Evening and requested to speak to me. His Errant was to inform me that if James went to School, it would break up the School for the other Lads refused to go.
Pray Mr. Faxon has the Boy misbehaved? If he has let the Master turn him out of school.
O no, there was no complaint of that kind, but they did not chuse to go to School with a Black Boy.
And why not object to going to meeting because he does Mr. Faxon? Is there not room enough in the School for him to take his seperate forme?
Did these Lads ever object to James playing (music) for them when at a dance? How can they bear to have a Black in the Room with them there?
O it is not I that object, or my Boys. It is some others.
Pray who are they? Why did not they come themselves?
This Mr. Faxon is attacking the principle of Liberty and equality upon the only Ground upon which it ought to be supported, an equality of Rights. The Boy is a Freeman as much as any of the young Men,
and merely because his Face is Black, is he to be denied instruction? How is he to be qualified to procure a livelihood? Is this the Christian principle of doing to others, as we would have others do to us?
O Mam, you are quite right. I hope you wont take any offence.
None at all Mr. Faxon, only be so good as to send the young men to me. I think I can convince them that they are wrong. I have not thought it any disgrace to my self to take him into my palour and teach him both to read and write. Tell them Mr. Faxon that I hope we shall all go to Heaven together.
* * * *
Our kids historically have arrived to Match low MCAS. Each year, as measured by “MCAS Growth,” they typically make high gains. So on the final MCAS, as 10th graders, they tend to ace it.
We tell kids that MCAS isn’t the finish line. College success is the goal, and 11th and 12th grade will be purposefully tough in order to prepare them. Still, they enjoy a great community moment of accomplishment when they get those 10th grade results.
One aspect of the celebration is that many Match kids receive an Adams Scholarship from the state. This offers to pay full tuition if they attend any state college.
The problem is how “full tuition” is defined. From the Globe:
In theory, who could find fault with the Adams Scholarship program, which waives tuition at in-state public colleges for students who do well on the state-mandated MCAS test? But according to new research by Sarah Cohodes and my colleague Joshua Goodman, Adams Scholarship winners go to less-competitive colleges, with lower average SAT scores, than they might otherwise have attended. Worse yet, they don’t save much money.
Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but it’s a little depressing. Here’s what happens. The politicians don’t want to say they increased “tuition.” So they came up with a way around it — everything they raise is called a “fee.” So an Adams scholarship really isn’t the size of gift that “full tuition” would suggest.
In 2005, annual tuition at UMass was $1,714, and mandatory fees were $7,566. Tuition today is still $1,714, but fees have risen to $11,516. I’m not counting room and board, just costs like the $9,414 “curriculum fee” — which Adams scholars still need to pay.
My friend Sarah and her colleague did an ingenious examination of “what happens.” It’s not good news.
After four years, the students who had just squeaked over the Adams threshold were 2.2 percentage points less likely to graduate from a four-year college than students who had just missed out on the scholarship. Some of this gap may disappear over time. But at least initially, the award seems to have hurt academic outcomes — presumably by steering students to in-state public institutions, which after years of budget woes are attracting students with lower credentials and employing fewer teachers per student.
Adams winners did, at least, save a little money; the colleges they attended cost them about $1,300 less per year than schools that non-award winners attended. But those savings seem small, in light of the reduced chance of earning a four-year degree that could easily be worth $1 million over their lifetime.