I simply don't understand the left's craze for softening expectations in the name of so-called "equality." I don't see how this does anything other than heighten resentments between groups and discourage self-improvement.
Early yesterday morning, Sarah Hoyt linked to an article reporting Oxford's decision to let female history students sit exams at home to "close the gender gap." Like Sarah, I spit when I read nonsense like this. If there are gender-based achievement gaps, perhaps we should seek out the true source of those gaps and not simply devalue girls' first class degrees by rigging the final game in their favor. Seriously: What employer is going to look at a young woman's credential from Oxford now and not doubt that she's as capable as a similarly-credentialed young man?
In discussions of "privilege," I often hear feminists and minority leftists complain that their co-workers question their competence just because they are women or people of color. But why do you suppose that is? Could it be that affirmative action and other accommodations send an implicit message to the wider populace that "disadvantaged" populations can't hack it without special treatment and set-asides? The data paint a pretty clear picture: Affirmative action is not merely a tie-breaker. Some groups are being held to objectively lower standards. Did you really think people would fail to notice?
There are better ways to address different outcomes between groups than to abandon fairness and jigger the end results.
You can start, first of all, by forgetting about "learning styles" and "personal relevance" and actually teach - to every student - rigorous courses in literacy, history, mathematics, and science in the primary and secondary grades. Yes, black students can learn something from Shakespeare; W.E.B. Dubois certainly thought so, and nothing's changed in human nature since his age.
While you're at it, you can restore teachers' authority in the classroom by backing up their disciplinary decisions instead of questioning them at every turn. Don't assume without proof that imbalances in school suspensions and expulsions are the result of teacher and administrator bias, and don't ease up on the rules as a consequence of such an assumption. Every child, no matter his socioeconomic status, deserves to learn in a classroom free of disruption. Letting some disobedient minority kids off the hook to massage the numbers screws every other minority student who's actually trying to study.
Third, we have to stop pretending that all household structures are equally healthy. In reality, a lot of the "privilege" that leftist activists vociferously decry is the merely result of growing up in a two-parent family. If you have two involved parents around to check over your homework, monitor your grades, and read out loud to you before bed, you tend to do better in school. And when you do better in school -- well, the later dividends are obvious. Overall, we absolutely must tell the truth and start promoting marriage as a national ideal. Just as every child deserves an opportunity to learn in a quiet and safe environment, every child also deserves to have an intact family to lean on for emotional, financial, and intellectual support.
Fourth, we shouldn't tell kids that the cards are stacked against them. We should inspire them instead. Tell them how others in their particular situation sought out opportunity and rose above. Don't dwell on the "patriarchy" or "white supremacy." That only fosters learned helplessness instead of empowerment.
Fifth, don't reward young people for anything other than their actual achievements. Dispense with all prizes for good little girls and other favored "victims" and be honest for a change. No one can improve his skills without accurate and suitably critical feedback, so don't soft-pedal. If a novice writer's story is poorly conceived, tell him so. Don't shower him with trophies just because he happens to be black/gay/trans/whatever. Give him a chance to grow; don't nurture a complacent mediocrity.
For God's sake, people, look around. The left's program is clearly not working. Isn't it time we try something different?