The war on merit in public schools continues and it's blatantly racist

AP Photo/Ron Harris

Last month, we learned that the public schools in Portland, Oregon were instituting a new set of “equitable grading practices.” Under these new guidelines, no student would ever receive a grade of zero or incomplete for anything. Homework would not be graded at all and no student would receive a failing grade for failing to complete their work or even cheating. Even behavioral issues or truancy would not be taken into account or result in a failing grade. And this isn’t the only progressive school district studying such policies.

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Why would any school board do this if they know that they will be passing students upward through the system when they haven’t mastered the skills required to take on even more advanced studies? In Portland, they claim to be addressing “inequalities in access to curriculum and instruction.” It’s a holdover from the school closures during the pandemic when it might have at least been partially justified because not all families had the same level of computer skills required to engage in remote learning. But now the “inequities” are being viewed differently, and it mostly boils down to disparities in outcomes based on race. But this dismissal of traditional grading systems is in itself a case of racism in one of its rawest forms. As Adam Coleman opines at the NY Post this week, Portland is setting up its students to fail and succumbing to the soft bigotry of low expectations when it comes to minority students.

[Portland] sent a handout pointing to data showing historical racial disparities in students’ pass/fail rate.

The handout instructs teachers to avoid giving zeros — or any grade lower than 50% — on assignments not meeting expectations, incomplete or handed in late or not at all…

A school district that states we need to have fewer expectations of students handing in course work on time because the minority children fail to do so is beyond condescending.

I feel bad for any parent who has a minority child under the tutelage of any “educator” who truly believes this.

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Grading every student down to some minimum level and reducing expectations so that no one’s feelings are hurt is criminally negligent at a minimum regardless of the color of any given student’s skin. And intentionally comparing scores based on skin color does nothing to address any underlying, fundamental issues. There will always be a certain number of children with mental or emotional challenges (including an alarming rise in the rate of autism) who will require special attention, but that happens among children of all races. And those children will need to have special educational practices set aside for them with teachers who specialize in dealing with those sorts of challenges.

But that’s not what’s going on in Portland. The majority of children of all races will have the ability to take in educational instruction and master the required material sufficiently well to advance. The ones who do not may simply not be putting in the effort or receiving the proper motivation at home or in the classroom. If those shortcomings are showing up more frequently among minority students, the schools should be putting in the effort to find out why. Work with the parents and guardians to see how they can be motivated to do better.

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But the answer will never be to simply lower the expectations and grades of all the other students just so “everybody gets a trophy.” And going into the process by assuming that the Black or Hispanic students will automatically underperform as compared to the white or Asian students is the epitome of true racism. We’re not talking about some sort of “reverse racism” here against white students. This is a case of determining that Black children are inherently less capable and then waiting for them to live down to your expectations. Children who are given a pass and show up at each succeeding grade level without the skills and knowledge to tackle the next level of work will simply fall further and further behind until they drop out of the system entirely. That’s the sort of “equity” you’re heading toward with programs such as this.

If we start producing a generation of graduates who can neither read nor write on an adult level or process information well enough to do research and analyze material, where will the next generation of writers and journalists come from? What will happen to the quality of published material? Thankfully, we still have enough people to fill that void here, at least for the time being. And if you would like to see even more content like this, please consider signing up for one of our VIP programs and help keep the lights on. We appreciate our VIP members more than you could know. And if you do, be sure to use the promo code “SAVEAMERICA” when signing up to keep a bit more cash in your pockets. Thanks for considering.

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John Stossel 5:30 PM | July 13, 2024
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