Not all college degrees are equal

The latest attempt to destroy excellence is a proposal to remove the name of the school from which a person holds a degree (“In the name of ‘equity,’ companies are now ignoring educational achievement,” New York Post, Dec. 31).  The rationale is that marquee-name colleges and universities have long discriminated against Blacks and Hispanics.

But prestigious schools are prestigious because in so many cases they offer a leg up to degree holders.  As a result, let them stand as an incentive to work harder to gain admission.

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Yeshivas commit fraud in special education

Hasidic yeshivas fail to teach English, but they have the nerve to demand special education funding because their students struggle with the language (“How Hasidic Schools Reaped a Windfall of Special Education Funding,” The New York Times, Dec. 29). It’s a clear case of fraud that is not prosecuted because the Hasidic community votes as a bloc.

I fail to understand how such yeshivas can continue to operate when they violate the law requiring them to provide an education substantially similar to that provided by public schools. But that’s politics in a nutshell. The losers, of course, are children who lack basic knowledge and skills to function in the secular world.

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More money will do little to improve schools

Increasing aid to public schools is being urged as the solution to their dismal performance (“New York needs school choice, not more money for ever-worse results,” New York Post, Dec. 29).  That argument is based on the difference in test scores between charter schools and traditional public schools.

I understand the anger and frustration that taxpayers feel about this issue, but I hasten to point out that charter schools operate by a completely different set of rules than other public schools.  As a result, they have a huge advantage.  I submit that if traditional public schools were set free to operate as charter schools, there would be little, if any, difference in results.

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Disconnect between grades and test scores

Parents are concerned about the difference between their children’s grades and their scores on standardized tests (“L.A. students’ grades are rising, but rest scores are falling. Why the big disconnect?” Los Angeles Times, Dec. 26). They should be.

The truth is that grading is basically subjective while scores on standardized tests are objective.  As a result, parents have no way of knowing what their children are actually learning. Yet school officials like to crow about the improved graduation rates.

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Equity kills excellence

As long as equity remains the goal, schools face an uphill battle to produce excellence (“Top school principal hides students’ academic awards in name of ‘equity’ “ New York Post Dec. 23). The principal at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, which is ranked as the best high school in the nation, withheld notifying students of their National Merit awards. She did so because of the district’s policy of “equal outcomes for every student, without exception.”

I can’t think of a worse way of destroying excellence. The fact is that some students are smarter than others, and some work harder than others. By refusing to accept this reality, schools are shortchanging students in ways they will soon find out after they graduate.

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College is a bad investment

Going to a four-year college today is a waste of time and money (“You Say You Want a Revolution,” The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, Dec. 21). That’s because students learn very little of practical use there while leaving them feel entitled. As a result, they graduate heavily in debt with no useful skills.

That’s a recipe for disaster.  Yet we persist in counseling everyone to attend college or face a bleak future.  I’ve long believed that college is not for everyone.  Most young people would be far better off learning a marketable skill coupled with an apprenticeship.

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Record grad rates are not what they they seem

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There was a time when a high school diploma meant something.  But that is not the case today. I’m referring to the news that California and the Los Angeles Unified School District posted record high graduation rates last year (“L.A. Unified, California showcase record graduation rates; other measures show setbacks,” Los Angeles Times, Dec. 17). I say that because the data shows students’ test scores and absenteeism were also at a record high during the same period.  How is it possible for the two narratives to coexist? What really accounts for the record graduation rates is the lowering of standards. Merely completing a course does not mean learning has taken place.   (To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)

Antisemitism is tolerated at colleges

College administrators are guilty of a double standard when it comes to bias (“Antisemitism Is Rising at Colleges and Jewish Students Are Facing Growing Hostility,” The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 14). They are quick to react to anything even remotely objectionable to Black students, but remain strangely silent when Jewish students are the target.

Why should Jewish students have to hide the star of David they wear around their neck?  College officials have a duty to provide a safe campus for all students.  Yet they do so only when Blacks students are involved.

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Goodbye to essay writing in high school

@font-face {font-family:”Cambria Math”; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1107305727 0 0 415 0;}@font-face {font-family:Calibri; panose-1:2 15 5 2 2 2 4 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:swiss; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536859905 -1073697537 9 0 511 0;}p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:””; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Calibri”,sans-serif; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;}.MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-size:10.0pt; mso-ansi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt; font-family:”Calibri”,sans-serif; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;}div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;}As a former English teacher for 28 years in the Los Angeles Unified School District, I always hated grading essays that my students wrote in response to the curricular guide (“The End of High-School English,” The Atlantic, Dec. 9). That’s because I felt good writing couldn’t be taught even though I received my M.S. in journalism from UCLA.

 But if I were still in the classroom, I would be even far more concerned about the arrival of ChatGPT, a new program that generates sophisticated text to any imaginable prompt. Contrary to my initial skepticism, it produced impressive results.  As a result, I would begin to wonder whether it was worthwhile trying to teach most high school students how to write an essay.  (To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)

Hasidic divorce rules shortchange children

When Hasidic parents divorce, their children often are forced to remain in yeshivas (“Divorce Can Lock Some Children Into Inadequate Hasidic Schools,” The New York Times, Dec. 12).  That happens even though one parent wants to enroll the child in a secular school.

It’s the result of an agreement signed in a rabbinical court known as a beth din. The agreements have been upheld by state judges who are torn between maintaining stability for the child and not violating state law requiring yeshivas to offer a basic secular education.

This is another example of how too many yeshivas leave students unprepared for life after graduation.  Yet they are allowed to continue to operate because of the fear of political retaliation by Hasidic voters.

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