Racial diversity will destroy quality of instruction

The obsession with racial diversity will destroy whatever little quality still remains in public schools (“School Choice Made Big Gains During the Covid Pandemic,” The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 23).  It is already on display in New York City’s exam schools, which are under pressure to admit more marginally qualified Black and Hispanic students in order to engineer a more racially diverse population.

When they find out they can’t handle the demanding work, they will either drop out or force teachers to lower the rigor of their instruction to accommodate them.  It is a disaster waiting to happen. If racial diversity is indispensable for a quality education, why do Japan and South Korea consistently post such high scores on tests of international competition even though they are not racially diverse?

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Apprenticeships are the solution to college debt

Rather than student loan forgiveness for college, it’s time to follow Switzerland, Germany and Austria’s approach to the problem (“The college debt solution: Let kids go to work instead of school,” New York Post, Nov. 19).  They blend work, school and mentorship while paying teenagers a monthly wage.  This combination leads to well-paying jobs without college.

It’s time to face reality: College is not for everyone.  One of four freshmen drops out by the end of the first year, while only two of three get their degree, which for many takes six years. In the meantime, they incur huge debt and no assurance of a decent job.

So many bachelor’s degrees are in fields which lead nowhere. Look at the number of PhDs driving for Uber or working as servers in restaurants. There is no demand for those majoring in Gender Studies and the like.

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Parental choice and teacher shortage

The pandemic has revealed in dramatic detail the deplorable state of education in this country (“Empty Classrooms, Abandoned Kids: Inside America’s Great Teacher Resignation,” The New York Times, Nov. 18). It is seen most vividly in the teacher shortage.

There is no guaranteed panacea, but parental choice is the most hopeful solution.  Private and religious schools have few of the same recruitment and retention problems that their public-school counterparts have even though they pay teachers far less and expect far more from them.

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Indoctrination by any name is still indcotrination

China’s schools are characterized by their “patriotic education” (“America Should Open Its Arms to Chinese Students,” The New York Times, Nov. 17). The intent is to indoctrinate young people.  The “wokeism” that infects our schools is no different.

I say that because in both cases free thought is suppressed, with students paying a stiff price for dissent.  But at least China makes no attempt to disguise its goals, while we engage in hypocrisy.

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U.C. strike is totally justified

Teaching assistants and other academic workers at the University of California are on strike – and for good reason (“UC strike takes on old-school practices,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 16).  Without them, U.C. couldn’t function, and yet they are paid barely enough to survive.

In Los Angeles and Berkeley, for example, the cost of housing eats up nearly half of their monthly salaries.  That leaves them very little to live on.  Yet U.C. claims it is paying them enough. It’s time to tell the truth about what is a scandal.

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U.S. Naval Academy is weakened by wokeness

When the U.S. Naval Academy in early 2021 adopted a Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan, it signaled the terrible harm that wokeness has done to this nation’s ability to protect itself from enemies (“The U.S. Naval Academy is Adrift,” the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, Nov. 11). You don’t have to be a veteran to understand the chilling effect such a strategy will have on discipline. 

The military is unique in the way it operates.  Its sole purpose is to defend this country.  It does not exist to engage in social engineering. As a result, it has been remarkably effective throughout history.  Anything that interferes with the ability of officers to carry out their duty weakens the nation. They already have enough restrictions on their ability to lead.

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Controversial issues are the third rail in education

Unlike college professors, K-12 teachers lack academic freedom.  As a result, they’ve never been able to address controversial issues.  But today they’re even more reluctant to do so – and for good reason (“Educators Are Deeply Conflicted on Teaching Heated Cultural Issues, Survey Finds,” Education Week,Nov. 2).

There are so many topics today that can get them into hot water.  Yet I wonder how we can ever expect students to develop critical thinking if their teachers are afraid to expose them to such issues.  The legal consequences are serious, leading to outright dismissal. If I were teaching today, I wouldn’t dare try to include these issues.  It’s just not worth it.

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School boards are under increasing attack

Local control of education is the hallmark of this country.  Yet serving on a school board today is entirely different from the past (“Class Warfare,” The New Yorker, Nov. 7).  It is no longer a relatively sedate job.

What happened in Williamson County schools in suburban Nashville, Tenn. is an example.  Members have found themselves the target of vitriol from Moms for Liberty, who charge that the Wit &Wisdom curriculum has harmed children.  At the heart of the criticism is that it teaches critical race theory.

This fixation with race is not limited to Williamson County. It is a frequent issue elsewhere.  I believe it is going to be the basis for privatizing education.  I don’t understand how teachers can support such a one-sided approach to instruction when students graduate without mastering the basics.

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Positive bias warrants greater attention

When the issue is bias, we assume it’s harmful since the term has such a negative connotation.  But what about thinking about bias in another sense (“Asian American Students Face Bias, but It’s Not What You Might Think,” The New York Times, Nov. 1)?

I’m referring now to what is known as stereotype promise.  It means assuming students from certain races possess positive characteristics even before they’ve proved so.  Asian American students are widely thought to be smart, hard- working and morally deserving. As a result, they benefit from their racial status before they even apply to college.

It’s this positive bias that is not being addressed in the two lawsuits before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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The best teachers can do only so much

The claim that the most significant cause of educational inequality is the lack of access to high-quality teachers is once again being trotted out (“The Supreme Court will end affirmative action. What happens next? Los Angeles Times, Oct. 30).  But that’s not what the landmark Coleman Report says.  Instead, it’s the social and economic factors that children bring to class.

That’s not to say that good teachers don’t matter.  Of course, they do.  But they are severely limited in what they can accomplish. Ask any public school teacher still in the classroom today for verification. It’s time to get real about this issue.

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