• Handicapping Our Youth

    June 26, 2024
    Photo Credit: Nadezhda Prokudina | depositphotos

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    It seems that the so-called progressive educational experts are hell-bent on wrecking American education, and have been at it for quite a while. When the progressive state of Oregon got rid of reading, writing, and math requirements for high-school graduation, it did so in the name of helping “Latinx” and minority students. Rather than help, all it did was ensure those students never learned the basics needed for life.

    A 17-year veteran teacher at Lyons Township High School near Chicago was ousted after complaining that the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training at his school was destroying the education environment. English teacher Tom Stukel explained in a letter, “Just over the past few years things have changed drastically. I see the harm that it’s doing to children and it’s wrong and that’s why I keep calling it out. We are essentially encouraging the students not to work.” This brave teacher reported that homework is no longer graded with no due dates, which resulted in most students not engaging in actual work. Unfortunately, saying this out loud got him targeted by the school administration. He was scolded by an administrator who started compiling a list of baseless rumors in his personnel file which was eventually used to fire him. Stukel closed his letter with a warning to parents, saying, “Parents! I write this to you, not the administration. I care about your students. I care that they get the quality education that they deserve and you expect. Beware and be proactive to what is happening at your school and in your students’ classrooms.” After his dismissal, Stukel and his wife left the state heading for Miami Beach. Apparently, caring teachers like this are welcome in Florida.

    When an article about the Oak Park and River Forest High School near Chicago reported that the district would be implementing a race-based grading system in their next school term, the leftist educators were outraged, claiming the grading system would apply to all students the same way. However, the plan called for the administrators to require teachers to adjust their classroom grading scales to account for the skin color or ethnicity of the students. According to the PowerPoint presentation made to the school board that outlined the plan’s rationale and goals, “Traditional grading practices perpetuate inequities and intensify the opportunity gap.” Called Transformative Education Professional Development & Grading, it has the express purpose of equalizing grading for low-income, Black, and Latino students. Because Black students typically test and grade lowest, Hispanic students next lowest, while Asian and White students test and grade higher, tests will count for less if at all. Teachers are told to exclude from their grading assessments any variables that disproportionately hurt the grades of black students. Students can no longer be docked for missing class, misbehaving in school, or failing to turn in their assignments. In other words, because Black and Latino students skip school more, don’t do assignments or homework, act out and disrupt classes, and, lo and behold, fail more tests, the school will drop all of those things so they can grade higher. Doesn’t that sound impressively progressive? It is not. It sounds like the soft bigotry of low expectations. This very misguided plan of the DEI agenda, not traditional grading, will perpetuate inequities and broaden the opportunity gap.

    Daniel Buck, a teacher and an editorial and policy associate at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, assessed the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion standards. He wrote, “Millions of disadvantaged schoolchildren are consigned to academic mediocrity, emotional abuse, and physical threat in the name of restorative justice.” Why would Daniel Buck say such a thing? Academic mediocrity, emotional stress, and physical threat. That sounds so serious and it is.

    Here’s why. You always get more of whatever behavior you validate. Always. Ask ANY parent EVER. Validate not attending class, not doing work, not studying, and misbehaving, and you will get more of the same. Apply that policy unfairly to certain groups and they will do even less. Why work or study if you can still get a good grade without doing so?

    You can’t raise people up by lowering the standards you measure them by. That’s just magical thinking. If that worked, then playing slow-pitch softball should produce top-notch major league baseball players. I promise you, it doesn’t. Following the logic of the equity grading program, you will make the lower groups even worse, and only increase the achievement and opportunity gap that exists now by entrenching academic mediocrity for the group you are supposedly helping.

    Show favoritism and you get division. All you end up doing is punishing those who work hard and are competent. How will those kids feel? Who will they blame? That’s right. They’ll blame the kids who get an unfair advantage. Thus, emotional stress and threats will follow. Then apathy. Why work hard anyway? In the end that program encourages less effort from EVERYONE. To sum it up, you worsen those already failing and you worsen those succeeding. How in the world is that helping?

    Talk about wrecking the country. Despite having the best-surveyed education system on the globe, US students consistently score lower in math and science than students from many other countries. According to a Business Insider report in 2018, the U.S. ranked 38th in math scores and 24th in science. It is getting worse. We teach transgender feminism studies, white privilege, and anti-racism, while other countries teach calculus, engineering, and advanced robotics.

    What happens when our low-standard youth go up against the competition from other countries? Who do you think will win? We are teaching our students that winning itself is racist, so that answer should be obvious. It’s already happening. The Silicon Valley tech companies import nearly three-fourths of their high-paid hires from outside the US. Now our medical and law schools are planning to lower their entrance standards or drop entrance exams, and push DEI.

    We watch riots and protests at our top universities, where students are closing down classes with their own actions. That they demanded finals be canceled and good grades be handed out to everyone highlights the monstrous entitlement that has been created. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion sound so nice, but words are cheap. Actions and results are what matter. In the end, this kind of educational plan will make things worse and is a recipe for disaster among our youth.

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    Ed Thompson

    Ed Thompson has worked in education for over 25 years, both tutoring individuals and teaching classes. He has helped students from three to seventy-three years old, and in subjects from beginning reading all the way to MBA classes and postgraduate biology. Students ranged from severely challenged to gifted and advanced. This work has given him a unique perspective and has led to insights on what’s broken about our educational system and how we can make it better. He is the host of the Basic Education Series podcasts and author of educational books. Learn more at https://basiced.substack.com.

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