Handicapping Our Youth

In journalism “burying the lede” means hiding the main or most important point among distracting details.

I recently read two articles in the news, and I just couldn’t let it go.

The first article in the West Cook News is about a 17-year veteran teacher at Lyons Township High School in the Chicago area who has been ousted after complaining that the diversity, equity and inclusion training at the school is destroying the education environment. Tom Stukel, who taught English and film as well as dual enrollment courses through a partnership with Indiana University, said he and his wife are leaving the state as well, headed for Miami Beach, Florida.

He wrote a letter detailing the problems he saw.

“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.”

Among the items this brave teacher reported were the fact that homework is no longer graded and there are no due dates, which results in a large majority of the school not engaging in actual work. He said,

“We are essentially encouraging the students not to work.”

Unfortunately, saying this out loud got him targeted by the school administration. Stukel said that after he brought up the problems he saw in the education environment, he was scolded by the administration who started compiling a list of baseless rumors in his personnel file to use in case they needed to fire him.

He closed his letter with a warning to parents. He said,

“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. Parents! Beware and be proactive to what is happening at your school and your students’ classrooms. Quality change will not come from the administration, the board or even the teachers.”

Another article reported this headline. OPRF to implement race-based grading system in 2022-23 school year. OPRF stands for Oak Park and River Forest High School, another school district near Chicago. The article detailed the plan where the administrators will require teachers next school year to adjust their classroom grading scales to account for the skin color or ethnicity of the students. Called Transformative Education Professional Development & Grading, it is an effort to equalize test scores among racial groups. It sounds so impressive and progressive. It is not. Black students typically test and grade lowest, Hispanic students next lowest, while Asian and White students test and grade higher. OPRF will order its teachers to exclude from their grading assessments variables it says disproportionately hurt the grades of black students. They can no longer be docked for missing class, misbehaving in school or failing to turn in their assignments.

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.”

This is another misguided plan of the DEI agenda. Daniel Buck is an English teacher and education policy writer for RAND, a major think tank. In his assessment of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion standards, he wrote the following,

“Millions of disadvantaged schoolchildren are consigned to academic mediocrity, emotional abuse and physical threat in the name of restorative justice.”

And there’s the buried lede. Why would Daniel Buck say such a thing? Academic mediocrity, emotional stress and physical threat.

Here’s why. You always get more of whatever behavior you validate. Always. Ask ANY parent EVER. Validate not attending class, validate not doing work, validate not studying, validate misbehaving, and you will get more of all of it. Apply that policy unfairly to certain groups and they will do less. Why work or study if you can still get a good grade without doing so? You will make those groups even worse, and only increase the achievement and opportunity gap that exists now. Thus, academic mediocrity.

You also 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 program, you could legislate slow pitch softball for all major league pitchers. All you really end up doing is punishing those who work hard and are competent.

Show favoritism and you get division. How will those hard working 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?

I’m reminded of the widespread practice involving scholarship athletes in universities who are given a pass on doing work, attending class and taking tests, only to “graduate” without having learned much of anything. Then an injury ends their sports career leaving them with no marketable skills. How does that work out for them?

And talk about wrecking the country. The US has already slipped far down the list in measured achievement by students, when comparing country to country. What happens when our low standard youth go up against the competition from other countries? It’s already happening. Why do you think the Silicon Valley tech companies import nearly three-fourths of their high-paid hires from outside the US?

Diversity, equity and inclusion sound so nice, but words are cheap. Actions and results are what matter. In the end this kind of plan will make things worse and is a recipe for disaster among our youth.

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