Is ‘Equity-Based’ Education Coming to a School Near You?

CommentaryOne of the multitude of problems with our public school systems throughout much of the country is the dumbing down of the curriculum and the failure to hold students to high standards. Nowhere has that been better exemplified than in what happened recently in the suburbs of Chicago.  A news story by a Chicago-area media outlet called West Cook News recently reported that Oak Park and River Forest High School administrators are considering “an equity-based grading procedure” that would take into account the socio-economic status of the students and even “the skin color or ethnicity of the students.” The story has gone viral around the country and has stoked national controversy and condemnation. The new grading system was only a proposal, but now, Oak Park school district officials are sprinting as fast as they can away from the idea. Officials are even denying that they ever considered separate standards for “nonwhite” students. That’s a lie. One of the leading advocates for this program is Laurie Fiorenza, the district’s assistant superintendent for student learning. She says equity-based grading is necessary because “current grading procedures perpetuate inequalities” to the disadvantage of minority students. It turns out that “equity-based education” is one of the latest fads in woke education. Under the plan that was proposed to the school board in Oak Park, nonwhite students would no longer be docked for missing class, misbehaving in school, or failing to turn in their assignments. Why? Because the documents from the school administration recommend as “next steps” that schools examine new “grading procedures in academic and elective classes” that take account of “racial inequity analysis tools.” The good news is that because of the outcry from parents, the “equity-based grading” plan is dead—for now. But in the upper echelons of the education bureaucracy, it’s still taken seriously as pivotal to the left’s “social justice” agenda. It explicitly asserts that nonwhites are more prone to get poor grades or fail to do their homework on time. Isn’t that a fairly racist claim? The standards have already been so weakened that kids can pass courses without any knowledge of the subject. In one instance, a minority child got a score of 19 out of 100 on a test and this was deemed a passing grade—because “she wasn’t white.” Our view is that this agenda is simply a diversion from the abysmal performance of the government schools in places such as Oak Park–River Forest, but also across the country. Just how bad are these schools that want equity-based grading? West Cook News reports that, according to the Illinois State Board of Education, the failure rate of Oak Park and River Forest students who bother to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) was 77 percent for black students, 49 percent for Hispanics, 27 percent for Asians, and 25 percent for whites. It sounds to me from these statistics that kids of all skin colors and ethnicities are doing really poorly. In the meantime, academic performance in some public school districts is now so poor that the schools are simply no longer assigning grades. We can only hope that the anger stirred up by this proposal will be the dagger in the heart of this fad social justice experiment that would lead to even lower standards in failing public schools. The parents who should be angriest of all are those of the “nonwhite” kids who won’t be held accountable for their behavior or their performance. Apparently, the goal here is to hand out high school diplomas to kids whether they can read it or not. How these kids who are being cheated out of a first-class (or even a second-class) education will fare in life and on the job seems of no consequence to many of our top educators. The tragedy of all this is that there are so many alternative schools available that are requiring high academic achievement, teaching the classics, enforcing discipline in the classroom, and turning out bright, industrious, and amazing kids of all skin colors. Why in the 21st century in America can’t this be the norm? Rather than lowering educational standards, why don’t we try something new? Shut the schools that are effectively admitting they have failed, and give the parent of each child $20,000 to find a school that has high, not low, expectations and judges kids by their talents and their work ethic, not their skin color or socioeconomic status. This isn’t racist? It’s just basic common sense. Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economist at FreedomWorks. Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Follow Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at FreedomWorks and co-founder of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity. He served as a senior economic adviser to Donald Trump. His new book is entitled: “Govzilla: How the Relentless Growth of Governm

Is ‘Equity-Based’ Education Coming to a School Near You?

Commentary

One of the multitude of problems with our public school systems throughout much of the country is the dumbing down of the curriculum and the failure to hold students to high standards.

Nowhere has that been better exemplified than in what happened recently in the suburbs of Chicago.  A news story by a Chicago-area media outlet called West Cook News recently reported that Oak Park and River Forest High School administrators are considering “an equity-based grading procedure” that would take into account the socio-economic status of the students and even “the skin color or ethnicity of the students.”

The story has gone viral around the country and has stoked national controversy and condemnation. The new grading system was only a proposal, but now, Oak Park school district officials are sprinting as fast as they can away from the idea. Officials are even denying that they ever considered separate standards for “nonwhite” students. That’s a lie. One of the leading advocates for this program is Laurie Fiorenza, the district’s assistant superintendent for student learning. She says equity-based grading is necessary because “current grading procedures perpetuate inequalities” to the disadvantage of minority students.

It turns out that “equity-based education” is one of the latest fads in woke education. Under the plan that was proposed to the school board in Oak Park, nonwhite students would no longer be docked for missing class, misbehaving in school, or failing to turn in their assignments. Why? Because the documents from the school administration recommend as “next steps” that schools examine new “grading procedures in academic and elective classes” that take account of “racial inequity analysis tools.”

The good news is that because of the outcry from parents, the “equity-based grading” plan is dead—for now. But in the upper echelons of the education bureaucracy, it’s still taken seriously as pivotal to the left’s “social justice” agenda.

It explicitly asserts that nonwhites are more prone to get poor grades or fail to do their homework on time. Isn’t that a fairly racist claim?

The standards have already been so weakened that kids can pass courses without any knowledge of the subject. In one instance, a minority child got a score of 19 out of 100 on a test and this was deemed a passing grade—because “she wasn’t white.”

Our view is that this agenda is simply a diversion from the abysmal performance of the government schools in places such as Oak Park–River Forest, but also across the country.

Just how bad are these schools that want equity-based grading? West Cook News reports that, according to the Illinois State Board of Education, the failure rate of Oak Park and River Forest students who bother to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) was 77 percent for black students, 49 percent for Hispanics, 27 percent for Asians, and 25 percent for whites.

It sounds to me from these statistics that kids of all skin colors and ethnicities are doing really poorly.

In the meantime, academic performance in some public school districts is now so poor that the schools are simply no longer assigning grades.

We can only hope that the anger stirred up by this proposal will be the dagger in the heart of this fad social justice experiment that would lead to even lower standards in failing public schools. The parents who should be angriest of all are those of the “nonwhite” kids who won’t be held accountable for their behavior or their performance. Apparently, the goal here is to hand out high school diplomas to kids whether they can read it or not.

How these kids who are being cheated out of a first-class (or even a second-class) education will fare in life and on the job seems of no consequence to many of our top educators.

The tragedy of all this is that there are so many alternative schools available that are requiring high academic achievement, teaching the classics, enforcing discipline in the classroom, and turning out bright, industrious, and amazing kids of all skin colors. Why in the 21st century in America can’t this be the norm?

Rather than lowering educational standards, why don’t we try something new? Shut the schools that are effectively admitting they have failed, and give the parent of each child $20,000 to find a school that has high, not low, expectations and judges kids by their talents and their work ethic, not their skin color or socioeconomic status.

This isn’t racist? It’s just basic common sense.

Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economist at FreedomWorks.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


Follow

Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at FreedomWorks and co-founder of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity. He served as a senior economic adviser to Donald Trump. His new book is entitled: “Govzilla: How the Relentless Growth of Government Is Impoverishing America.”