During the last 18 months, supercharged by events after George Floyd’s death, the radical Left has… shifted its focus to the abolition of testing and standards, the evisceration of math curricula, and indoctrination in our K-12 schools. The following is a necessarily abridged summary of recent developments…
Under pressure from progressive assertions of test bias, over the last few years, many colleges decided that SAT and ACT testing would be optional. Then, to settle a lawsuit alleging racist disparities, in May 2021, the UC system announced it is ceasing the use of ACT and SAT scores. Other colleges promptly followed the UC’s lead. Without scores, there can be no disparities.
In April 2020, citing “equity” and its goal to restructure and dismantle “systems and institutions that create the dichotomy of beneficiaries and the oppressed and marginalised,” the Oregon Department of Education eliminated grades and proficiency in reading, writing, and math as requirements for graduation…
On September 9, 2020, Education Trust-West, an “advocate for educational justice,” announced its study and toolkit for K-12 math, A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In Pathway, Trust-West characterised expecting the right answer, independent practice, teaching in a linear fashion, requiring procedural fluency, and requesting that students show their work, as “white supremacy.” Instead of offering a path for minority students to learn how to do math and come to the correct answer, Pathway instead advocates that schools use numbers to motivate anti-racist discussions of social justice.
On July 14, 2021, the California Department of Education issued a Mathematics Framework based on True-West’s Pathway. Chapter 1 of Framework rejects “natural gifts and talents” and calls for de-emphasising calculus and eliminating classes for gifted children in grades 6-12 to eliminate “inequity.” Chapter 1 specifies that “equity influences all aspects of this document.” The draft Framework directs teachers to use math for political discussions about “marginalised communities” and to move away from focusing on correct methods or answers.
At a time when, despite increases in school funding, almost 80% of black and Hispanic eighth graders have been deemed “not proficient” in maths or reading, it’s unclear how improvements might be made while simultaneously graduating high-school pupils regardless of their performance, or even their attendance, and while shying from the existence of such terribly oppressive things as correct answers.
And parents will doubtless take comfort in the feats of mental contortion performed by those to whom their children are entrusted – including the self-satisfied insistence, by high-school teacher Josh Thompson, that behaving in class is “white supremacy.” You see, paying attention and not being disruptive, so that things might actually be learned, if only by some of those present, is “passive” and a product of “white culture.” And expecting basic standards of behaviour – say, respecting other pupils who are trying to hear what’s being said - is “the definition of white supremacy,” and therefore very, very bad.
A position, incidentally, that’s more common that one might think. As illustrated by assistant professor Albert Stabler, who confessed his innate wrongness – “I am a white teacher” – before denouncing the “white feelings” of teachers who object to being assaulted in class – as when being punched, for instance, or when a female teacher had her hair forcibly cut by a black student in an attempt to humiliate and dominate her. Objections to such things are, we’re assured, merely “white supremacist violence.”
And then there’s the spectacle of Virginia Tech educator Dr Crystal Duncan Lane apologising to her class for the sin of being white – in itself, we’re told, proof of “innate racism.” A claim that not only constitutes a kind of racial gaslighting, but which, in the name of progressive piety, also manages to insult any students with pale skin, and from whom, a pantomime of pretentious collective guilt is evidently expected.
Such, then, are the ways of the woke.
In the comments, Richard asks, “Who is helped by this arrangement?” Prompting a quote from an earlier post,
Readers will note that the retreat from clear metrics into euphemism and pernicious fuzzwords – chief among which, “equity” - not only makes it difficult to determine pupils’ academic progress and actual competence, but also has a secondary effect of making it more difficult to identify the shortcomings of left-leaning educators and administrators. A coincidence, I’m sure.
A coincidence that doubtless suits over-promoted mediocrities such as Valeria Silva, whose “equity” policies – and their awful, inevitable consequences – are mentioned at some length here. It’s worth bearing in mind that, say, grading papers, while not exactly statusful or exciting, does require a level of attentiveness and diligence. And of course, probity. Qualities that don’t exactly leap to mind when picturing the creatures mentioned above. Including Ms Silva, who, rather than addressing the concerns of parents, or pausing to entertain the possibility that her policies may have downsides, simply doubled down and dismissed her critics, even those with brown skin, as befuddled by “white privilege.”
The woolly, circuitous claims that abandoning academic and behavioural standards will “benefit” children, especially minority children, don’t appear to be load-bearing. The word fatuous comes to mind, and the word perverse. It’s hard to imagine how an inability to string together thoughts and express them comprehensibly can be an advantage in life, or a path to employment. Likewise, being encouraged to expect immunity from normal consequences and proprieties, and being handed endless off-the-peg excuses for one’s own thuggery and spite, doesn’t generally foreshadow functional adulthood.
However, a cynic might note that such measures may be to the advantage of educators and administrators who would prefer not to be held accountable for their own ideological fixations and personal shortcomings. If one can no longer measure success, and no longer measure failure and repeated negligence – if even the idea of such efforts is rendered unfashionable or taboo – then people who should never have been employed in the first place, especially in positions of authority over children, can flourish unmolested. Indeed, they can become ascendant, precisely because of their inadequacies and dogmatic narrowness, now framed as woke piety.