Times of great complexity are approaching at great speed. The hysterical impulses of a sector of American society, linked to extreme progressivism, begin to threaten to end school meritocracy.
The photo used in this article is old, from 2011, but it perfectly reflects what will be the next motto of progressivism: “The myth of meritocracy in America is dead”.
A clear example is what is happening at Lowell High School, where the San Francisco Unified School District, in a matter of minutes, broke a whole trajectory of school meritocracy: the merit-based admissions process was replaced by a lottery system.
This high school is considered one of the best in California and in the entire United States, its population density is predominantly Asian (61% of its students are Asian-Americans) and the decision made by the School District in theory seeks to “benefit” young Hispanics and blacks so that they have a better chance of entering college.
The problem, basically, is that this measure is an affirmative action that, in the end, increases tensions between parents and students themselves.
According to Asian Down, when Asian American parents opposed the school district’s plans to enact its new “lottery” system in late October, the district criticized the parents as “racist” and responsible for the school’s “toxic culture”. This, according to the media, led to the unprecedented accusation of targeting parents for promoting “Asian supremacy” by making their children work so hard. One of the arguments is that the achievements of Asian youth “demoralized African American and Latino students”.
But California is not the only place where these situations occur. According to an article by Bacon’s Rebellion, a small Virginia website, in New York City “parents are facing a campaign to eliminate academic testing at the city’s selective STEM schools, including Stuyvesant High School and Bronx High School for Science.
Something similar happened in Boston. Public schools are looking at ways to drop the entrance exam for the next school year. All this on the recommendation of Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius. According to Wbur, under this plan, “20% of the class seats available next year will be allocated to the students with the best grades in the city. The remaining 80% would be admitted to schools based on their GPA classification within their home zip code, with eligible students from lower-income zip codes as first choices.
Many Boston parents came out to oppose the superintendent’s recommendation. “Save the test. End racism” was one of the strongest and most influential messages among protestors.
But the worst thing happened at Thomas Jefferson High School, where the selective admission test that had been initiated in 1985 through the cooperation of state and county governments, as well as corporate sponsorship of the defense and technology industries, was eliminated.
In 2016, the school ranked first in Newsweek’s annual “Best High Schools in America” for the third consecutive year and fifth in US News & World Report’s 2016 High School Rankings, reads Qaz Wiki.
But the decision to eliminate the selective admissions system, with the goal of increasing the pool of Hispanic and African-American students, will have a negative impact on the academic grades of this prestigious school.
Positive discrimination threatens school meritocracy
The problem is not in taking steps to ensure that racial minorities such as Hispanics and blacks have fair opportunities for a first-rate education. What is serious about this situation is that “solutions” by counties and school districts are being nothing more than affirmative action that eliminates academic meritocracy.
Asian Americans are indeed a racial minority. So are Hispanics and blacks. But they are industrious, hardworking, and, the numbers show, academically excellent. Talent, excellence, and intelligence also exist within Hispanic Americans and African-Americans, but if Lowell High School’s admissions test scores indicate that Asian Americans outperform whites, blacks, and Hispanics, the solution is not to lower competitive standards or deprive another young person of his or her space.
Moreover, hysteria about these measures has reached the point where their very implementation is directly affecting that black or Hispanic youth who, with a lot of effort, achieved the necessary grade to enter some of these schools.
Equal opportunities in the educational system will not be achieved by suppressing school meritocracy. Injustice cannot be fought with more injustice. Seeking demographic equality in institutions is not only absurd, but also detrimental to the formation of critical and prepared citizens.
An educational system that rejects preparation and excellence is replicating the excesses of social justice populism, but focused on younger students. If progressive hysteria has declared war on school meritocracy, now is the time to fight it, and that is by generating policies that not only maintain the system, but improve it so that the underlying problems can be addressed with truly effective measures.