As regular readers know, I often warn about the constant and purposeful degradation of our K-12 education system. I’m not referring to solely leftist propaganda replacing actual learning, though that is an enormous problem in much of America. I’m more worried about educrats whose focus is not on the mission, but on buffing their resumes and pushing their pet philosophies and projects. If they’re leftists–social justice cracktivists–the damage of propaganda is merely an added feature.
When I served in the Strategic Air Command during the Cold War, everyone knew the mission: to fly in the furtherance of the defense of freedom. Everyone that did not actually pilot aircraft was there to ensure that when America needed them, those aircraft were ready to fly, and their pilots were as well trained and proficient as humanly possible.
The educational mission in any school is to provide the best possible learning opportunity. Teachers are the pilots, and everyone else is there to support them, to ensure they have the resources and other support necessary to accomplish the mission–the reason schools exist.
In many places, the mission has been lost. Townhall.com provides a textbook example of that kind of insanity:
New York City public school teachers recently revealed that they have been instructed to reject ‘objectivity,’ ‘written documentation” and ‘perfectionism’ by Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, as part of his effort to ‘dismantle racism.’ Carranza identified these values as tools of the ‘white-supremacy culture.’
In our new country, nonsense like ‘objectivity’ and ‘written documentation’ are mere tricks, chicanery, hocus-pocus, used against ‘communities of color’ — as Schools Chancellor Carranza explained — in order ‘to win victories for white people.
In other words, hard work, achievement, delayed gratification, studying, intelligence, excellence don’t matter. What matters is race–social justice narratives–and the NYC schools could not care less about the mission. But they don’t know what the mission is! Of course they do. Carranza must know the mission in order to so specifically reject it. Now consider this from the Boston Globe:
This year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee was epic: For the first time ever, it ended with not one spelling champion or even two cochampions, but with eight winners. Winnowed down from 562 starting contestants, the final eight proved unconquerable through 20 rounds. ‘We’re throwing the dictionary at you,’ said Jacques Bailly, the Spelling Bee’s official pronouncer, ‘and so far, you are showing this dictionary who is boss.’
That was after the 17th round. Three rounds later, all eight contestants were still in the running — and the judges had run out of challenging words. Whereupon they ruled that each member of what Bailly called ‘the most phenomenal assemblage of super-spellers’ in the Bee’s history would take home a first prize trophy and an accompanying $50,000 check.
These were the winners, and the final word each spelled correctly:
Rishik Gandhasri: auslaut.
Erin Howard: erysipelas.
Saketh Sundar: bougainvillea.
Shruthika Padhy: aiguillette.
Sohum Sukhatankar: pendeloque.
Abhijay Kodali: palama.
Christopher Serrao: cernuous.
Rohan Raja: odylic.
So who were these kids, the beneficiaries of objectivity, written documentation and perfectionism? I’m sure you can tell, gentle readers, all but one were Indians. Subcontinent, not American. Some might consider them white, but their skin tone is surely not. Carranza, and all like him, hate this:
Indian-American kids haven’t become the royalty of competitive spelling because their race or color gives them an advantage. There is no ‘Asian privilege’ that explains the failure of white, black, or Latino kids to capture the trophy. Awesome spelling skills aren’t coded in DNA from the Indian subcontinent. High-level spelling competition is a meritocracy; the only way to win is by spelling the most words correctly. And the only way to get that good at spelling rare and difficult words is to work at it — hard.
Many Indian-American children devote extraordinary time and effort to training for spelling bees: They memorize word lists, study etymology, familiarize themselves with prefixes and roots, take guidance from coaches, and compete in regional contests.
But isn’t that sort of thing racist in and of itself? Don’t they have some kind of privilege that makes that possible? Isn’t it all a trick to deny victories to children of color? Well, OK, so they’re children of color, but not the right color–ish. Not only that, few words so enrage race-baiting educrats as “meritocracy.”
Such rigor, diligence, and patience has nothing to do with genetics or superficial ‘diversity.’ It has everything to do with motivation. And what fuels that motivation is a combination of culture, social expectations, family encouragement, and ethnic solidarity. ‘Spelling bees have become a vital part of the Indian-American experience,’ anthropologist Shalini Shankar has written. ‘There is community prestige in placing competitively in spelling bees and great familial pride for having participated in something so challenging at a young age.’ Nor does it hurt that many of ‘these young word nerds,’ as Shankar calls them, have a ‘vast social network of friends who also love spelling.’
In other words, these are really smart kids who enjoy being smart, and who want to become smarter. Their families and communities not only expect real dedication and effort of them, they support them in its pursuit and reward them for their accomplishments.
The disproportionate success of Indians in world-class competitive spelling ought to elicit only admiration. But there’s no denying that it flies in the face of America’s vast diversity-industrial complex, which endlessly reinforces and endorses a great fallacy: that statistical disparities between racial and ethnic groups are proof of invidious discrimination.
Bigotry and injustice are real, of course, but they have no more to do with the dominance of Indians in spelling competitions than with the dominance of Kenyans in distance running, or of Russians in chess, or of African-Americans in the NBA. Or, for that matter, of men in commercial fishing or women in veterinary medicine, or of any of a thousand-and-one other examples of extreme statistical disparities among categories of people.
‘Human beings are not random events,’ the renowned scholar Thomas Sowell observes. ‘Individuals and groups have different histories, cultures, skills, and attitudes.’
Educrats create their own reality and try to force everyone else to live in it. In real reality, culture matters. Children growing up in a culture that values education, intelligence, accomplishment and hard work will tend to reflect those values, regardless of race, gender, or any other criteria. Educrats reject that reality.
In order to enforce their social justice reality, they also reject the very idea that some people are simply smarter than others. That’s why more and more schools are doing away with valdictorians and any other objective reflection of excellence.
In order for the mission to remain the mission, objectivity, merit, documentation and the pursuit of excellence must be lauded and rewarded. But to educrats, it’s all beside the point, even evil. They seek higher truths, more meaningful objectives. Should their ideology ever infect spelling competition, there may very well be a great many winners–if such competitions are allowed to exist–but they will have to be of the correct races, the correct sexual orientation, and the correct political pedigree, such matters subject to change as the political winds blow. Because objectivity is evil, the competitions will be openly rigged to ensure the correct outcome.
When normal people, particularly people motivated to accomplishment, understand the game is rigged, and excellence is discouraged, they stop playing the rigged game. When that happens, the mission of schooling is lost, and so are we all.
Update, 06-16-19, 2020 CST: This, from Michael Goodwin at The NY Post, is interesting indeed:
It turns out that Chancellor Richard Carranza was counting racial beans long before he got to New York. Reader Krista Donaldson writes: ‘I live in San Francisco and when he came to our elementary school’s PTA meeting, he told the parents (mostly white middle class) that he didn’t care about our kids — he was there only for minority kids.
It was shocking, especially to parents who had been working hard and fundraising to make the school better for all children.
He had a very negative impact and our schools still suffer from the damage of his tenure.
This is anecdotal, of course, but seems in character. Who coulda thunk it? A leftist, racist educrat from San Francisco behaving like at leftist, racist educrat in NYC. What are the odds, and how much damage will he do there?