As a parent of two children in MAST Academy, I have watched over the past three years the slow and steady decline of quality public high-school education in the county. In 2011, Miami-Dade had four of the top 100 schools in the country, according to the U.S. News & World Report rankings. MAST was ranked 66th. It fell to 73rd in 2012 and then to 96th in the just-published rankings.
At MAST, there has been a fall in resources and investment. In addition, the school has seen a lowering of entrance standards, a reckless branding of multiple schools with the MAST name (as if naming a school the same as another delivers a quality education) and then in 2012, the secret sale of entrance rights to Key Biscayne residents in return for their funding a sports field. As part of the same transaction, there was the unwanted and unplanned expansion to middle-school students, without any concern for quality or the standards of education and diversity that were passed down by wiser administrations.
Only in Miami could you plan to improve schools by lowering entrance standards. Every parent in the county has the right to seek schools of the highest quality for their children. The unchecked decline in the rankings of the best magnet schools in the county shows that quality education is not safe in the hands of the current school board or administration.
MAST was an unrivaled school of technical excellence, open to all who qualified and with a powerful story of diversity. It has been sold to the highest bidder and will surely disappear next year from the list of top schools. Those responsible owe the parents an explanation and a public plan of how to restore the name and quality of the schools with which they were entrusted.
Michael Bax, Coral Gables