The 15,000 pupil Stamford, Connecticut school system, ”among the last bastions of rigid educational tracking,” is abandoning the practice, which the New York Times describes as ”an uncomfortable caste system.” But if the Times is so concerned about tracking, asks Will Fitzhugh, why are they silent on “the complete dominance of athletic tracking in schools all over the country?” As unbelieveable as it seems, deadpans the editor of The Concord Review, there is no real movement to eliminate it.
Athletes in our school sports programs are routinely tracked into groups of students with similar ability, presumably to make their success in various sports matches, games, and contests more likely. But so far no attention is paid to the damage to the self-esteem of those student athletes whose lack of ability and coordination doom them to the lower athletic tracks, and even, in many cases, may deprive them of membership on school teams altogether.
Fitzhugh observes that the elimination of tracking is a product of educators who are ”more committed to diversity and equality of outcomes in classrooms than they are in academic achievement.” I would also add that mixed ability grouping on sports teams is not unheard of. The New York Mets have been doing it for years.