Letter: New Haven kids just want to spread their wings

Re: “Recruiting: Should Yale target locals?” (Feb. 27). About once a year, the News runs an article that poses some version of this question: Why are there so few Yale undergraduates from New Haven’s public high schools? And every year, misconceptions abound as about why this is so.

The simple answer is this: those Elm City public school students who are accepted to Yale are usually accepted by a number of other highly ranked schools as well. Earlier in this decade, when my own daughter graduated from a New Haven public high school, the top-ranked students that year chose Stanford, Harvard, Brown, Cornell, MIT and the University of Chicago over Yale.

These students were neither snubbing Yale nor being intimidated by it; they were merely spreading their wings. The majority of them were beneficiaries of one of Yale’s most life-changing gifts to the city: access to undergraduate classes for public high school students of demonstrated promise. For years, Yale’s Public School Partnership director, Claudia Merson, along with other administrators and faculty too numerous to mention, have been passionate advocates for these adolescents. I recall many high school teachers, central office staff at the New Haven Board of Education and even my daughter’s principal being enthusiastic boosters for the program.

Unfortunately, I can also recall an obstructionist assistant principal who made it clear she didn’t want to do the small amount of additional paperwork this exceptional program required. And I’m disappointed that a New Haven public school guidance counselor told your reporter she had never heard of Yale’s dramatic tuition policy changes for lower-income families. It’s her job to keep abreast of information like that.

Margaret Spillane

March 23

The writer is a lecturer in English.

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