Woke school districts didn’t happen overnight. Instead, the left gradually chipping away at merit-based policies forced excellence to give way to so-called “equity.” Equity is an education jargon word that means lowering standards for students based on race.
Like a sickness with varying symptoms in each sufferer, equity has appeared in different districts through different policies. But one thing remains the same: Ideologues have never been satisfied with just one “equitable” change. Instead, they push for a slate of misguided reforms, with the goal of remaking the entire system so no one student can out-compete any other, because students are not allowed to compete at all.
Let’s look at the end game of equity in education: Welcome to Equity High, a composite of leftist policies found across the country, combined in one hypothetical place to see the combined results.
Equity High School offers no honors classes, like Culver City High School in California. For students who excel in any subject, tough luck: They will have no choice but to take classes taught at a level that doesn’t challenge them or develop their talents.
For students who slack off, however, Equity High School might sound like a dream: The school never gives out F grades. A Minnesota middle school did away with F grades in 2021 as part of a plan to confront “systemic racism,” and several districts prohibited teachers from issuing F grades during the pandemic.
Teachers who step out of line are punished, like Diane Tirado, a former Florida teacher who says she was fired for giving zero grades to students who did zero work. Administrators dictate top-down policies without regard for teachers, parents, or students.
The content of classes at this school deviates substantially from the core educational subjects. In math class, students are taught to examine their feelings and others’ (a Pennsylvania school district is considering using this sort of math curriculum). Social studies courses indoctrinate students with critical race theory. Science classes don’t teach the biological differences between males and females, because doing so would be “transphobic” in the eyes of leftist administrators.
Classrooms are chaotic because “restorative justice” — or ending consequences for bad behavior — has replaced true discipline. In Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland, restorative justice policies led to students meeting in “conflict resolution circles,” where there seems to be no distinction made by adults between right and wrong.
A 2018 study comparing schools using restorative justice to schools using traditional discipline found that middle schoolers’ academic achievement suffered when traditional discipline was abandoned. What’s more, students at the restorative justice schools reported that their teachers had a harder time controlling students’ bad behavior.
Equity High has affinity groups, sponsored by taxpayer dollars, which illegally block attendees of some races and sexes. Such groups and restricted events have been uncovered in countless districts, often pushed by people who claim to be on the side of inclusion.
Access to Equity High’s college prep services is restricted based on race and a student’s perceived level of privilege. This is not fictional: Cooper Middle School in Fairfax County, Virginia, issued invitations to college prep services that appeared to exclude white and Asian students unless a white or Asian student has a disability, is not a native English speaker, is socioeconomically disadvantaged, or would be the first in his family to go to college. (The school later sent a “clarification message” denying such exclusion, but Virginia’s attorney general has gotten involved to ensure the school does not discriminate based on race.)
Equity High has no valedictorian, like Cherry Creek School District in Colorado, lest it single out one student for exemplary achievement. The school has given up on class rank, too, to prevent students from viewing each other as competitors.
Students need not pass a test to graduate. New York and New Jersey are facing pressure to drop their graduation tests, and Oregon and New Mexico used Covid-19 as an excuse to suspend their testing requirements. Students do not have to meet a single benchmark to “earn” a diploma, if such a process could be called earning anything at all. It is entirely possible to graduate from Equity High without ever learning to read, write, or do math, without any grades to reflect the lack of learning that has taken place.
Learning is not the priority at Equity High School. Grades are meaningless, academic rigor is nonexistent, and students never compete academically. As a result, students never discover their strengths, and even if they knew them, they wouldn’t have the chance to take advanced classes where they could further develop those talents.
Because no one can fail a class, it’s hard for parents and teachers to identify which students need extra help. Students are not rewarded for good work or penalized for not doing the work it takes to master the course material.
The motivation behind “equity” policies is to make it impossible for students to fail. Instead, it makes it impossible for students to succeed.