I try to be open to views that contradict what I’ve learned from teaching in both high school and in university. But the No. 1 reason given for opposing meritocracy today totally flies in the face of reality (“Goodbye Meritocracy, Hello …What?” The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, Apr. 20).
The argument is that meritocracy is rigged against the lower and middle classes. Therefore, reformers want to give greater weight to non-cognitive factors such as extracurricular activities, life experiences and ethnic backgrounds than to innate intelligence and academic performance.
I don’t deny that non-cognitive factors are important, but they are no substitute. The consensus is that it takes an IQ of about 115 to handle college-level work. By admitting applicants who don’t possess such wherewithal, we set young people up for failure. We talk about the importance of self-esteem. How is their self-esteem improved when they find out they can’t do the rigorous work required?
still maintain that the importance of a four-year degree is blown way out of proportion. People are not equal in talents and interests. Why do we persist in encouraging all students to go to college regardless of their aptitude or inclination? I think we do a terrible disservice to the young by not according vocational education the respect it deserves.
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