Achieving Equity Through Mediocrity: Why Elimination Of Gifted Programs Should Worry Us All, by Jonathan Turley

Here’s how you educate really bright kids: bore them to death, and by all means, don’t challenge them. From Jonathan Turley at jonathanturley.org:

Below is my column in the Hill on the elimination of the gifted programs, proficiency requirements, and other performance-based elements in our public school system. This was highlighted recently by the elimination of the gifted and talented programs in New York City under Mayor Bill de Blasio, which were denounced as racist. I have long been critical of this trend which focuses on reducing disparities in performance by trimming the top rather than raising the bottom of a student body.

Here is the column:

Journalist H.L. Mencken once denounced public education as an effort “simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.” Mencken’s fears may be coming true in a way that few of us thought possible just a few years ago.

While much of our public debate today has centered on the teaching of the concepts of systemic racism and white privilege, a far more worrisome trend is sweeping our public school system. Across the country, school districts are removing advanced programs and even standardized testing to achieve an artificial appearance of equity. Indeed, it promises a kind of equity through mediocrity that all families should reject.

This movement was on display this week after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the elimination of the Gifted and Talented (G&T) program for the city’s school system. G&T programs have been denounced by some as racist because a disproportionate number of white and Asian students are in the advanced programs. The De Blasio panel previously declared such programs to be “segregation” due to the lower number of minority students. The move is part of a campaign to eliminate racial disparities not by elevating the performance of minority students but by removing standardized testing and special programs that highlight such disparities. Now those separate programs will be eliminated and the students returned to the general student body. They can seek “accelerated” materials but will be taught in classes with other students in conventional schools.

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