Refusing To Acknowledge Achievement

On December 24th, Hot Air posted an article about Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology located in Fairfax County, Virginia.

The article reports:

Located in Fairfax County, Virginia, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology has long been ranked as one of the premiere high schools in the nation. It’s a “magnet” charter school that focuses on the sciences and STEM curricula. But for several years now you wouldn’t have guessed that based on the school’s record of students receiving National Merit awards. That’s because none of the students reportedly received those honors. Except that’s not true at all. The top students in the school did indeed receive National Merit awards, but two administrators at TJ have been withholding notifications of the awards from students. They reportedly did this as part of their “equitable grading policy.” And the parents of students who were not credited with those achievements are seeing red.

Refusing to reward accomplishment does not promote equity–it simply removes the incentive for students to try to achieve. If achievement is recognized, it provides motivation for struggling students to try harder.

The article concludes:

The student mentioned in the excerpt above took the PSAT and achieved a score that placed him in the top three percent of students in the nation, along with winning a National Merit award. But he couldn’t list that on his college applications because he was never informed that he received it. This year, after being caught, the school did eventually distribute the awards, but they waited until after the early college admission deadline had passed.

The principal of the school and the director of student services reportedly conspired to withhold the awards for years, impacting as many as 1,200 students. Under their “equitable grading policy” described above, almost no student will ever fail and they get a 50% grade just for showing up. This is being described as a “race to the bottom,” which definitely sounds accurate.

As we’ve seen with other charter schools in California, efforts have been underway to eliminate merit-based achievements. In the opinion of the progressives pushing such “reforms,” too many of the “wrong” types of students were getting the awards, most commonly students from Asian families. To correct what they see as an “unfair” system, they keep lowering the standards until everyone reaches equality. Tragically, it’s an equality of poor performance. This barely disguised racism should not be tolerated and it’s a mystery why Thomas Jefferson High School continues to employ the administrators who were responsible for this plot.

This is socialism in education–no one is allowed to be rewarded for their efforts and eventually the achievers stop achieving.


Laws Have Consequences

On Saturday, Hot Air posted an article about a recent trend in Washington State.

The article reports:

Last July, a new law went into effect in Washington state that was described as “police reform.” House Bill 1054 made significant changes in how the police are allowed to do their jobs. Police unions had been protesting the measure, saying that it would negatively impact their ability to control crime, but the state’s Democrats cheered the bill as a way to bring more “equity” into the system. One of the changes put in place by the bill was a rule saying the police officers were no longer allowed to engage in high-speed chases except in very limited circumstances. In other words, if the cops see a driver doing something wrong and turn on their sirens and flashers but the motorist doesn’t pull over, there isn’t much they can do about it. To the great surprise of nobody with an IQ higher than tepid water, motorists have begun ignoring the police in increasing numbers and simply refusing to pull over.

I guess it’s equity if no one is held responsible for any lawbreaking while driving.

The article continues:

The police aren’t allowed to give chase unless there is an increased bar of “reasonable suspicion” that the driver is impaired or there is “probable cause” to believe that the driver had committed a violent crime or sexual assault. This has basically put an end to high-speed pursuits because if they guess wrong, they won’t wind up getting a conviction anyway and the department could be tied up in endless lawsuits.

The article concludes:

This was all entirely predictable and, in fact, state Republicans and police unions did predict it last year. This shouldn’t have required a rocket scientist to figure it out. Your average, law-abiding citizen who may have committed a minor traffic infraction is probably still going to pull over when the police hit their lights. But if you know you are driving while intoxicated or you’ve stolen a car or have outstanding warrants, why would you pull over for the cops when you know they can’t chase you? Criminals will clearly be happy to risk hitting the gas and making a clean getaway rather than being hauled off to jail.

This is yet another item in a long list of examples of “police reform” going on around the nation. When you reduce the disincentive for committing a particular crime, you get more of that type of crime. When you announce that the cops can no longer chase you, criminals will flee since they have nothing to lose. And we’re talking about a lot more than just your random person who had a few too many beers. Seemingly random traffic stops are one of the most common ways that people with outstanding warrants wind up being taken into custody. That tool is now unavailable to the police in Washington in most cases, so there are going to be more wanted fugitives out there roaming the roads.

The legislators in Washington State need an infusion of common sense.

Equity Is Different From Equality

On Tuesday, Hot Air posted an article reporting that Oak Park and River Forest High School is transforming its grading systems. The school is bringing equity into its grading system.

The article reports:

School board members discussed the plan called “Transformative Education Professional Development & Grading” at a meeting on May 26, presented by Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning Laurie Fiorenza…

“Traditional grading practices perpetuate inequities and intensify the opportunity gap,” reads a slide in the PowerPoint deck outlining its rationale and goals.

It calls for what OPRF leaders describe as “competency-based grading, eliminating zeros from the grade book…encouraging and rewarding growth over time.”…

Sullivan calls grading based on traditional classroom testing and homework performance “outdated practices” and foster “unconscious biases.”

“Teachers may unintentionally let non-academic factors—like student behavior or whether a student showed up to virtual class—interfere with their final evaluation of students.,” she said. “Traditional student grades include non-academic criteria that do not reflect student learning gains—including participation and on-time homework submission.”

So now students will get credit for simply showing up for class.

The article notes:

The key slide titled “Summary of Findings” reads as follows:

  • Traditional grading practices perpetuate inequities and intensify the opportunity gap
  • Integrating equitable assessment and grading practices into all academic and elective courses requires the collaborative effort of a team of educators committed to improvements that
    benefit all students
  • Many OPRFHS teachers are successfully exploring and implementing more equitable grading practices such as: utilizing aspects of competency-based grading, eliminating zeros
    from the grade book, and encouraging and rewarding growth over time
  • Teachers and administrators at OPRFHS will continue the process necessary to make grading improvements that reflect our core beliefs

The article concludes:

I’m not sure what happens to these equitably graded kids when they get their first job and find out they have to a) show up for work when scheduled, b) get the job done while on the clock and c) not create a disruption in their place of work . All that to say, some of these changes don’t sound very helpful in the long run.

On the other hand, as a parent there is an argument to be made that zeroes in the grade book on one minor assignment can create a real hurdle for students, some of whom may have actual reasons for missing an assignment now and again. The middle school my kids attended also allowed for test corrections in many cases which allowed students to make up some of the missing points by redoing the work after the fact. So I’m not necessarily against everything they are suggesting here but I think I draw the line when showing up and doing the work don’t count against you at all.

At some point, aren’t we supposed to be preparing students for the real world?

Looking At The Numbers

On Sunday, The New York Post posted an article about President Biden’s promise to promote equity as President.

A website called defines the difference between equity and equality as follows:

Key Takeaways: Equity vs. Equality

  • Equality is providing the same level of opportunity and assistance to all segments of society, such as races and genders.
  • Equity is providing various levels of support and assistance depending on specific needs or abilities.
  • Equality and equity are most often applied to the rights and opportunities of minority groups.
  • Laws such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provide equality, while policies such as affirmative action provide equity.

There are a number of problems with equity–the most obvious being determining who decides the level of assistance or the specific needs or abilities. If reparations is ‘equity’, who decides which people were harmed by slavery (does slavery include indentured servants?) and which people did the harm (were your ancestors in America during slavery? did your ancestors fight to free the slaves?). As you can see, equity is complicated and does not have fixed guidelines and is thus open to major abuses.

The New York Post article reports:

Joe Biden began his presidency with a promise to advance equity, which means favoring some races and ethnicities over others to shrink outcome disparities. Like many of his fellow liberal Democrats, Biden is tethered to the belief that black upward mobility won’t happen without coddling and special treatment from the government. Donald Trump’s record complicates such claims. 

One of the most underreported stories of the Trump presidency is the extent to which black economic fortunes improved. The mainstream media presented Trump daily as a bigot whose policies would harm the interests of racial and ethnic minorities. Meanwhile, black economic advancement occurred to an extent unseen not only under Barack Obama but going back several generations — until the pandemic shutdowns brought progress to a halt. 

Over the first three years of Trump’s presidency, blacks (and Hispanics) experienced record-low rates of unemployment and poverty, while wages for workers at the bottom of the income scale rose faster than they did for management. Whether that was the goal of the Trump administration or an unintended consequence is a debate I’ll leave to others. But there is no doubting that the financial situation of millions of working-class black Americans improved significantly under Trump’s policies. 

I am reminded of the John F. Kennedy quote, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. Putting a businessman in the White House benefited all Americans. I am hoping we can do that again.

Making American Students Less Competitive

The Federalist is reporting today that the Commonwealth of Virginia is revamping its school curriculum to improve equity in education. Notice the word ‘equity’ instead of ‘equality.’

The article reports:

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is eliminating accelerated math courses before 11th grade to “[i]mprove equity in mathematics learning opportunities.”

Loudoun County school board member Ian Serotkin announced Tuesday that the “Virginia Mathematics Pathways Initiative (VMPI),” is a “a sweeping initiative by the Virginia Department of Education to revamp the K-12 math curriculum statewide over the next few years” by “eliminat[ing] ALL math acceleration prior to 11th grade.”

“That is not an exaggeration, nor does there appear to be any discretion in how local districts implement this” Serotkin wrote. “All 6th graders will take Foundational Concepts 6. All 7th graders will take Foundational Concepts 7. All 10th graders will take Essential Concepts 10. Only in 11th and 12th grade is there any opportunity for choice in higher math courses.” 

The VDOE website says that in addition to improving equity, the change will “[e]mpower students to be active participants in a quantitative world.” 

However, a Loudon parent told Fox News Thursday that the initiative would actually “lower standards for all students in the name of equity.”

“These changes will have a profound impact on students who excel in STEM-related curriculum, weakening our country’s ability to compete in a global marketplace for years to come,” the parent said.

VDOE spokesperson Charles Pyle told Fox News the VMPI would “support increased differentiated learning opportunities within a heterogeneous learning environment.” 

Delegate candidate for Virginia’s 50th House District, Mike Allers, told The Federalist that VDOE “didn’t level the playing field —they destroyed it.” 

It’s time to remember that all children are not academically equal and denying accelerated classes to students who can handle them will not make slower students smarter. It will simply make smarter students frustrated and possibly cause them to lose interest. This is a really bad idea.

As the mother of three very different students (obviously all grown-up now), I am really upset by this thinking. One of my children has an art degree, one is an electrical engineer, and one is a lawyer. The electrical engineer took accelerated math and science throughout high school. Without those courses, she would have been bored to tears. If you had put the lawyer in any one of those accelerated math or science courses, she would have been thoroughly discouraged. The daughter with the art degree always got “A’s” in art courses and any math she could draw. They were three totally different kinds of students. Holding one back would not have helped the others. Putting a child in an accelerated class in a subject that is not his strength is also not helpful. One size does not fit all, and the Commonwealth of Virginia is making a serious mistake here if it wants its students to be competitive with students in other areas of the nation.

Equal Outcome vs. Equal Opportunity

Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted an article that provided a preview of the direction the Biden administration is headed in the area of civil rights. We are no longer going to be concerned about equality, we are going to be concerned about equity. This is totally opposite of everything the civil rights movement of the 1960’s represented.

The article notes:

On Tuesday, six days into the Biden administration, it became clear why Susan Rice, hitherto a foreign policy specialist, was named director of the Domestic Policy Council. Rice, unconfirmable for a Cabinet post after her unembarrassed Sunday show lies about Benghazi, ventured into the White House press room to preview President Biden’s “equity” initiative.

With one possible exception, the specific policies announced were less important than the word “equity,” invoked 19 times by Rice and nine by Biden. Ending federal private prison contracts, “strengthening” relations with Indian tribes, and combating “xenophobia” against Asians and Pacific Islanders are small potatoes as federal policies.

Not so, perhaps, the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing initiative, started under Obama, repealed under Trump, and now due for a spirited revival. The idea is for the feds to reverse local zoning laws and plant low-income housing in suburbs deemed insufficiently diverse.

Actually, racial discrimination in housing has been reduced since the 1968 federal Fair Housing Act, to the point that in metropolitan areas from Washington to Atlanta to Los Angeles, most blacks now live in suburbs, not in the central cities to which they were tightly confined in postwar America.

The article explains the difference between equality and equity:

But for Rice and Biden, “equity” requires not equality of opportunity, but equality of results. That’s one of the fundamental tenets of the critical race theory training that Trump’s administration banned and Biden’s reinstated on Day One.

A lower-than-population percentage of blacks in any desirable category, explains critical race theorist Ibram X. Kendi, must be the result of “systemic racism,” a term Rice used twice and Biden five times on Tuesday. If you don’t agree, you’re guilty of “white fragility” and must be a “white supremacist.”

As Andrew Sullivan trenchantly observes, “to achieve ‘equity,’ you first have to take away equality for individuals who were born in the wrong identity group. Equity means treating individuals unequally so that groups are equal.”

This is exactly contrary to the central thrust of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It could easily be judged, in particular cases, to violate the 14th Amendment. Individuals discriminated against might have standing to go to court.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. Reverse racism is still racism. Racism in any direction for any reason is not a good path for America to follow. Hopefully a few well-placed lawsuits will put an end to this nonsense.