Critical race theory pushback

Resistance to critical race theory is slowly gaining momentum across the country, as the harm it causes becomes increasingly clear (“The Backlash to Critical Race Theory Is on The Way,” The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, June 11).  Yet the battle remains daunting.

I remain pessimistic because so many people have been bullied into silence out of fear of being called racist.  That’s particularly the case for educators at all levels.  Nothing jeopardizes a career like that.  The irony of this issue is the word “critical” in the title.  If critical thinking is indeed the goal, then it can never be achieved as long as indoctrination prevails.

Parents in K-12 are in a far better position than professors to fight since their jobs are not on the line.  That applies to public, charter, private and religious schools. However, the argument that charter schools do a better job than traditional public schools or private schools in resisting is not true.  Both charter schools and private academies have caved in.

If I were a parent with school-age children, I would look to Catholic schools as the best option.  Overall, they have refused to deviate from a traditional curriculum, despite outside pressure.

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Double standard about racism in schools

When it comes to fairness, the suit filed by the Liberty Justice Center against the Loudoun County Public Schools in Alexandria, Virginia is long overdue (“Woke K-12 Education Goes to Court,” The Wall Street Journal, June 10).  That’s because the school district’s Student Equity Ambassador Network restricts membership to students of color. 

The court will have to decide if this violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.  I’m not a lawyer, but it seems quite evident that if the same network restricted membership to whites, there would be no question.  It seems anything at all that favors students of color is considered fair compensation for past discrimination.

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Elite colleges are no guarantee of superiority

There was a time when graduates of the Ivies and other marquee-name colleges meant something special, but alas that is no longer the case (“Why I Stopped Hiring Ivy League Graduates,” The Wall Street Journal, June 8).  I say that as a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania from the late 1950s. 

In those days, there was a free exchange of ideas.  As a result, graduates of elite schools deserved bragging rights.  But today the woke atmosphere has stifled intellectual exchange.  When political correctness is rampant, real education is thwarted. 

Even worse is how easily students feel traumatized by insensitive comments of one sort or another.  What are they going to do when they enter the workplace?  The world is not going to cater to their feelings.

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Dwelling on past injustices hurts Black students

The trouble with critical race theory is that it does little, if anything, to help Blacks students today (“The Miseducation of White Children,” The Nation, June 3). Certain historical milestones are certainly worthy of inclusion in the curriculum, but when they purport to be the sole factor in understanding the present, Black students are severely shortchanged.

Are all white students supposed to feel guilty for the past?  In the final analysis, that seems to be the ultimate goal.  But they are not responsible.  Nevertheless, they are being pressured to atone for events long ago.  I fail to see how critical race theory will improve matters.  If anything, it will cause resentment on the part of white students.

Rather than create black victimization, I say it’s time to focus on black accomplishments.  After all, Japanese were put in internment camps during World War II and yet they refuse to dwell on the past.  That’s why they have outperformed whites academically for decades.

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The diversity obsession in college admissions

The Supreme Court is expected to hear the challenge to Harvard’s race-conscious admissions program (“As Harvard Case Looms at Supreme Court, Study Tests Value of Diversity,” The New York Times, June 1).  I realize that not all education takes place in the classroom.  In fact, attitudes that develop from interaction between racial groups persist long after subject matter is forgotten.

But if students are admitted largely on the basis of their race in order to craft a diverse student body, they run the risk of finding themselves over their head in handling rigorous work.  When that happens, they drop out, with their self-esteem severely damaged.

All students, regardless of race who lack the wherewithal, would be better off applying to schools in line with their ability.

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Civics education deserves greater emphasis

High school civics classes have taken a back seat in today’s reform movement (“The one class every American high schooler desperately needs to take,” New York Post, May 29).  That’s a seriously mistake because the need for informed citizens has never been greater.

The problem is that teaching about the history of this country has become politicized to the point that students are not given a balanced account.  Textbook adoptions, which form the basis for teaching the subject, rarely manage to present an honest picture of our failures and triumphs.  As a result, students are shortchanged.  Critical race theory will only exacerbate matters. That’s why I see little hope ahead.

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The college-admissions frenzy

Despite new data showing that what students major in is far more important in landing a well-paying job than where they graduated from, students continue to put themselves through unnecessary hell (“The College-Admissions Crucible,” The New Yorker, May 29). I seriously doubt that will change.

The problem is that young people and their parents are obsessed with brands.  The truth is that there is little evidence to support the assumption that a degree from, say, Harvard is intrinsically more valuable than one from, say, the University of Mississippi.  Instead, it’s the marketing of the brand that has caused the assumption.

When few people graduated from college in this country, it mattered little what graduates studied during their four years.  But today things are different.  A computer science major is far more likely to land a high-salary position than a gender-studies major.

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Charter school debate comes down to fairness

The case for expanding the number of charter schools is predicated on the right of parents to choose the best school for their children (“Lift New York’s charter cap,” New York Daily News, May 27).  I support their right to do so, but I hasten to point out that it is not fair to compare charter schools with traditional public schools.

Of course, charter schools are going to post better outcomes.  Why shouldn’t they?  They play by a completely different set of rules.  Traditional public schools must by law admit all students who show up at their door anytime during the school year.  Moreover, they can’t by law expel students who for one reason or another are a problem.

If charter schools had to operate the same way, I submit that there would be little difference between the two. Since that will never happen, the entire debate is an exercise in futility.

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College degree premium steadily shrinking

The truth about the pecuniary value of a college degree is finally emerging (“Data highlights the difference in perceived and actual value of a college degree in America,”, May 22.)  I say it’s about time because too many young people are going into heavy debt for a degree that will not pay off.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, going to college is an investment, which needs to be scrutinized. It found that the wealth premium has been dropping steadily.  That’s not surprising because so much depends on the major.  When few people went to college, majoring in anything immediately distinguished the graduate from the masses.  But now far more depends on the course of study pursued.

I continue to believe that we have been wildly oversold on the value of a sheepskin.  Young people need to consider a vocational curriculum in high school, coupled with an apprenticeship. 

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Math curriculum framework is outrageous

If the proposed math curriculum framework in California is ratified by the state board of education, students will be so severely shortchanged that they will never recover (“California Leftists Try to Cancel Math Class,” The Wall Street Journal, May 19).  I don’t think that is hyperbole.

I take this alarmist view because the framework is obsessed with racial ideology.  For example, when teachers address students’ mistakes in math, they are engaging in a form of white supremacy.  Getting the right answer falls into the same category.  How is this going to help students when they enter the workplace?

What I find particularly unbelievable is that the framework rejects “ideas of natural gifts and talents.”  I wonder what its defenders would say about Amadeus Mozart or LeBron James?  They are virtuosos who were born with gifts. It’s time to accept that life is unfair. Everyone is good at something.  The goal should be to identify and then nurture such strengths.

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