Plenty of Blame to Go Around In Education

By Anthony Trevlac

  • April 29, 2024
  • 4-min read

Most Americans have long recognized that education is a prerequisite for happiness, success, and well-being. It is also fair to say there is a widespread feeling that our schools are failing us.

There is a lot of debate about what to do to improve our schools, but it is important to remember they do not operate in a vacuum. Public education reflects the values in our communities, our nation, and ourselves.

Teachers and administrators should be held accountable, but our educational system can only do so much when the environment in which our children are raised has changed so dramatically. There is enough blame to go around. If our schools aren’t good enough, it is also important to ask if we are good enough.

The disintegration of the family is key. Most black children in the 1960’s had two-parent households. Most today do not. About three-fourths of black children in America today are born to unmarried women.

Only the most naïve of us – or the most willfully ignorant – would deny the devastating effect this has had on the ability of children to concentrate in school, get support at home, follow good role models, and stay out of trouble. Children from intact, two-parent homes perform better on every important metric.

Then there is the worst self-inflicted wound in our history. America shut down the economy and public education during Covid. Millions of us complained at the time and were widely reviled by those people who think you should just fall in line.

We objected to the loss of freedom and predicted it would result in terrible long-term damage to the economy. Many unconstitutional actions were taken, and sanctions were applied randomly. Why was it OK to go to Lowe’s or Kroger, but not to Larry’s Hardware or Sam’s grocery? Why was it safe to wait in line at Wal-Mart but not to wait in line to vote?

Those who defend our response to Covid claim we didn’t know much about it, we learned as we went along, and we did our best. That certainly is a charitable way to look at things. The physicians who used to use leeches and bled their patients said the same thing.

There was never good science behind several of the tactics we were told to use (masks, six-feet distancing), and many policies were continued long after we knew better. They are still promoted today.

Whenever fear of a new wave of illnesses arises, people fall all over themselves to say “mask up.” It has become a good litmus test. People who grab masks whenever an excuse arises will be the first in line to master the goose step.

Some people automatically follow orders. Some question them. The second group will remain free longer than the first.

There never was a good reason to close schools. Children were at near zero risk of death from Covid. The overreaction to the pandemic led to a completely predictable destruction of education and many of the basics necessary for normal day-to-day life in our society.

Last year, the irredeemably dim Joe Biden commented in a speech about the supply chain, laughing, and saying that many of us hadn’t heard the word before Covid. Well, those of us who are intelligent and informed (two qualities Biden does not appear to share) had heard of it. And we were concerned.

You know someone is fundamentally stupid when they mention a topic, about which others had already raised concerns, and act as if it were news to all of us. Worried about the supply chain, Joe? Welcome to the club. We were worried about it years ago.

For schools, the push to sit at home and hope things magically turned out ok was led by the sophistic ramblings of American Federation of Teachers chief Randi Weingarten. At her urging, our educational infrastructure coalesced around the idea that no one should go to school during Covid.

Weingarten and her remora-like supporters essentially argued that teachers aren’t that important by arguing they can do their jobs just fine over a video screen. Nonsense. This just in: teachers are THE essential element for learning for most children and there is no replacement for face-to-face communication.

At home learning was a disaster. American children were denied roughly two years of normal learning, development, and socialization. The extent of the damage is incalculable.

Education is also transforming because of a push to eliminate merit as the preeminent consideration in education. Once upon a time, you were awarded the grade that you earned. No longer. “Grading equity” is in place in some schools and being tested in others. The strategy eliminates deadlines for schoolwork, implements minimum “F” policies where students get 50% for doing nothing, and allows students to retake tests repeatedly, with no grade penalty. What could go wrong?

There is a great piece on Grading for Equity in Real Clear Investigations, April 24, by Vince Bielsky. Check it out and thank us later.

The push to eliminate merit as a factor in life is a poison that will eventually sicken most parts of society. Equity is the antithesis of both equal opportunity and meritocracy. Two things cannot concurrently matter most. Either skin color is more important than merit, or merit is more important than skin color. Pick one.

Washington is all in on this. Early in his term, a Joe Biden executive order established equity (not equal opportunity) as our driving principle. They don’t value equal opportunity; they value equal results for groups, not individuals. This is in contrast to more than 200 years of American tradition.

Our nation has changed. More to come, but for now, here is a thought: as much as you hear about the problems with “kids” these days, it seems more likely that we are failing them than that they are failing us.

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