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    Egalitarian Demise

    Egalitarian Demise

    There was a great post on Reason yesterday about the failings of the American education system. Steve Chapman explained that “[there] is a widespread impulse to treat all kids as equally able and willing to learn. But the results often fall dismally short of the hopes. … When the Chicago public schools scrapped remedial classes for ninth graders and put everyone in college-prep courses, “failure rates increased, grades declined slightly, test scores did not improve and students were no more likely to enter college,” according to a study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago. Among average and above-average students, absenteeism rose. The danger in putting the brightest kids in general classes is that they will be bored by instruction geared to the middle. But their troubles don’t elicit much sympathy.”

    I remember in my private high school’s courses that – on the rare occasion someone of significantly greater or lesser ability slipped into a course – the whole class would suffer from being slowed down or pulled into tangents much more advanced than the material. It seems that many school districts are trying to forge classes almost exclusively like this. Yet this trend in thinking is indicative of a perspective that focuses less on actual learning and more on “not feeling so bad.” It’s not a shameful thing at all to be in a regular or college prep course (well, I didn’t think so when I was), but since when did we live in some sort of perfectly egalitarian society where everyone was created with the same academic abilities? Or is that just a projection from the politically-correct police?

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    Comments


    "Lowest common denominator" is a social…as well as basic arithmetic…concept with very broad application.

    I was taught in public school that I had no place in an academic setting. In various perverse ways, that was true.

    We are consigning our young people to a shadow of the potential they have.

    Why is monopoly good when the Collective decides it is?

    BTW, will y'all help me find my dog Klaus? He got thrown out of obedience school and seems to have taken it badly. Here's a poster:
    http://www.tastefullyoffensive.com/2010/12/klaus.html

    I've read this post a number of times and still don't get what exactly your main point is. Are you criticizing the middle-tiered curriculum or are you raising concerns about the failure to educate the 'brightest' students. Or both? Or are you suggesting that somehow, because the brightest aren't being challenged enough, it is inhibiting society's progress overall. Or are you simply giving a re-description of an article you read that was written by someone else and referenced on someone else's blog/website.

    @Carmine,
    I'm corroborating the point made by Chapman with my own experience. Clumping people of all abilities doesn't help anyone – either those at the top, at the bottom, or in the middle. It's fairly uncontroversial in this crowd, it seems, but public school systems are trying to combat what is pretty obvious to anyone with an ounce of common sense.

    But for goodness sake, if we put the bright kids in separate classes it will make the others feel bad about themselves and that must be avoided at all costs.

    Curiously enough, no one takes this approach when it comes to selecting students for the school sports teams. I tried out for the ninth grade basketball team, got past the first cut but no farther. I didn't feel good about myself but I don't think anyone was going to suggest that I should have been on the team anyway.


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