To the editor of THE EAGLE:
Along with, probably, every other public school teacher in Berkshire County, I read with interest the Eagle article titled "Lenox tops in Berkshire County in SAT Scores; Monument, Greylock runners up," from Oct. 14. Lenox achieved an average score of 1665, some 300 points higher than Drury and Hoosac Valley, at the bottom of the list.
Acting on a hunch, I looked up some numbers for the major towns in each public school district in Berkshire County and compared them to the rankings for SAT scores. Here’s what I found: The top four schools, according to the Eagle article, just happen to serve the wealthiest communities. According to the 2010 census, the top five towns for median household income were, in order: Williamstown (Mt. Greylock), Dalton (Wahconah), Lanesborough (Mt. Greylock), Lenox (LMMHS), and Great Barrington (Monument Mt.).
Meanwhile, the bottom five public high schools in SAT results -- Drury, Hoosac Valley, McCann, Taconic, and PHS -- serve the bottom three major towns in Berkshire County in terms of median household income: Adams (Hoosac Valley, North Adams (Drury, McCann), and Pittsfield (Taconic, PHS).
Money doesn’t denote intelligence, of course. But money does buy access to nutritious meals, warm houses at night, and quiet, leafy neighborhoods, where sleep comes easy. Money pays for computers, and tutors, and trips to the doctor and the dentist. Money pays for eyeglasses. Money pays for summer camp. Money pays for tickets to a museum, for trips to New York, for long-distance vacations that make geography a three-dimensional, first-hand experience. Money pays for children’s books.
Money flows from a higher education; therefore, those with money tend to instill in their children a desire for the same, and even to insist upon it. And money pays for SAT prep courses.
Before any of us throw out our shoulders patting ourselves on the back, or pointing accusing fingers in anyone’s direction, let’s try to be conscious of a simple fact: Where we end up in 21st century America depends, to a very troubling degree, on where we start.
JOSEPH M JOHNSON
The writer is a teacher at Lenox Memorial Middle & High School.