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IWN Staff
September 21, 2023 - 3 minutes
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Background: Merit v. Equity in Public Education

Background: Merit v. Equity in Public Education

“Let our children grow tall and some taller than others if they have the ability in them to do so.”  Margaret Thatcher, September 15, 1975

To our great detriment, the concept of participation trophies in sports has moved into America’s public school classrooms. With participation trophies, all the team’s athletes, regardless of effort or achievement, receive the same reward. In K-12 public education, social justice activists are implementing policies, under the guise of “equity,” to yield equal outcomes for all students at the expense of merit, equal opportunity, and fairness.

 What are the specific equity policies in public schools, and why are they problematic?

The equity initiatives detailed below are poison to merit and achievement in our public schools.

1.  Elimination of advanced academic programs and math. Social justice activists believe that if all children don’t have the natural inclination and ambition for advanced academics and math, then none of them should have the opportunity. Several districts across the nation have eliminated advanced classes in the name of equity. To achieve equal outcomes, this strategy is a way to hold all students back equally. Eliminating advanced classes is an assault on gifted education that prevents children from reaching their full potential.

2.  Equity grading. With equity grading, students cannot get zeros. All assignments and tests start at 50%, even the ones never completed or when there is cheating and plagiarism involved. All tests can be retaken, and there is no penalty for late assignments. Proponents of equity grading claim they implement the system to fight institutional biases and eliminate racial disparities in outcomes. What they’re really doing, though, is inflating grades, deterring effort and removing consequences for delinquent behavior.

3.  Restorative Justice discipline. In contrast with punitive discipline, like detention,  suspension, or expulsion, restorative justice discipline avoids punitive measures and instead provides misbehaving students a type of counseling which requires their victims to participate in the process. This process flips the script by treating the misbehaving student as the student in need while re-victimizing the student who was bullied, harassed, or violently attacked. With zero consequences for bad behaviors, these unruly and violent students will continue to create dangerous environments in schools.

4.  Equity-based admissions to magnet high schools and universities. Across the nation, universities and magnet high schools have moved to admissions systems that devalue grades and standardized tests, in favor of other metrics, such as essays detailing personal experiences that reflect struggle or a commitment to a social cause. Social justice activists remove merit from admissions processes to intentionally discriminate against some races in favor of others. Aside from the unfairness of removing merit as a consideration in admissions, many admitted students are ill-equipped for the rigor of the curricula when they arrive. In the case of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., the magnet school began lowering standards, offering remedial math and yielding lower grades following the merit to equity changes in its admissions standards.The leftist move from merit to equity, from equal opportunity to equal outcomes, is an un-American, social cancer that needs to be rooted out. We must save merit.

IWN Staff
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