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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Affirmative action divides the country

It’s impossible to know how the Supreme Court will rule in two cases involving the role of race in college admissions (“Supreme Court to Revisit University Affirmative-Action Programs,” The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 29).  But one thing is certain: nearly three-quarters of Americans don’t believe race or ethnicity should be a factor, according to a March survey by the Pew Research Center.

I’ve long believed that merit alone should be the basis for deciding who is admitted to college. If that means only Asians and whites, so be it.  College is not for everyone.  Admitting students who lack the proper academic wherewithal in order to engineer diversity sets them up for failure and lowers overall standards. The Supreme Court hasn’t helped clarify matters by its past decisions in the Bakke case and in the Grutter case.

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Catholic schools shine in the face of the pandemic

You don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate the achievements of Catholic schools compared with those of public schools (“Amid the Pandemic, Progress in Catholic Schools,” The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 28).  Students there had the nation’s highest scores on all four NAEP tests. In fact, if Catholic schools were a state, their 1.6 million students would rank first in the nation.

It’s easy to attribute their success to the fact that 92 percent of them remained open during the pandemic compared with only 43 percent of traditional public schools.  But I maintain that their success is due to their adherence to basic knowledge.  They have not fallen for wokeism that has infected public schools.  As a result, they deserve high praise.

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Affirmative action needs to go

It’s hard to predict how the Supreme Court will rule about affirmative action (“Affirmative Action’s Last Best Hope,” The New York Times, Oct. 26).  Ever since Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003, it has emphasized racial diversity’s importance in academic settings.

But I hope the high court puts an end to affirmative action.  It’s been in place long enough.  I believe that pure merit should be the sole basis for admission.  If that results in fewer places for Blacks and Hispanics, so be it.  College is not for everyone.

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ACT and NAEP scores fall

When both ACT and NAEP scores fall in close order, it’s time to ask what is going on (“Falling ACT Scores and the Dumbing Down of America,” The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 25). The easy answer is that the pandemic is the villain.  But the trend for both tests has been slowly downward before Covid.

I believe the reason is that classrooms have become indoctrination centers rather than centers for the basics. As a result, students are graduating ill-prepared to handle college-level work. Sure graduation rates are rising, but they are meaningless because students have not mastered the work.

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Fraud at religious schools tarnishes their appeal

Fraud committed by any school is serious, but when it occurs at a religious school the damage is compounded (“Hasidic School to Pay $8 Million After Admitting to Widespread Fraud,” The New York Times, Oct. 24).  I’m referring now to the Central United Talmudical Academy in Brooklyn, which is the largest private Hasidic school in New York State.

Although the school will pay fines and restitution totaling more than $8 million, the damage has already been done.  Like all religious schools, honesty is supposed to be a guiding principle.  When it turns out that fraud or other crime has been committed, it forever stains their reputation.

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