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The Bottom Line Move Over DEI, Here Comes the J for ‘Justice’ in Race-Based Grading Policy

Originally published at National Review

A new letter — “J,” for “justice” — has apparently been added to the “DEI” — “diversity, equity, and inclusion” — mantra. And, as with most progressive ideas, it will lead to the exact opposite of what it claims to promote.

In the name of DEIJ, the administrators of Oak Park and River Forest High School, near Chicago, are preventing teachers from taking important aspects of an education into account — such as showing up for class, comportment, and turning in assignments — when grading their students. From the West Cook News story:

Oak Park and River Forest High School administrators will require teachers next school year to adjust their classroom grading scales to account for the skin color or ethnicity of its students.

School board members discussed the plan called “Transformative Education Professional Development & Grading” at a meeting on May 26, presented by Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning Laurie Fiorenza.

In an effort to equalize test scores among racial groups, OPRF will order its teachers to exclude from their grading assessments variables it says disproportionally hurt the grades of black students. They can no longer be docked for missing class, misbehaving in school or failing to turn in their assignments, according to the plan.

I can’t think of a more effective way to hurt students of color and impede their success as adults than to relieve them of the responsibility to comply with the requirements and efficiencies basic to receiving a good education. Talk about the bigotry of low expectations.

But “equity,” don’t you know!

Advocates for so-called “equity based” grading practices, which seek to raise the grade point averages of black students and lower scores of higher-achieving Asian, white and Hispanic ones, say new grading criteria are necessary to further school districts’ mission of DEIJ, or “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice.”

“By training teachers to remove the non-academic factors from their grading practices and recognize when personal biases manifest, districts can proactively signal a clear commitment toward DEIJ,” said Margaret Sullivan, associate director at the Education Advisory Board, which sells consulting services to colleges and universities.

If black students are accepted into colleges because they have benefited from unwarranted grade inflation — but are not prepared to succeed because they never developed the discipline and life skills needed for diligent scholarship — they are being set up for failure. How does that help them either in school or in life?

I predict that the DEIJ criteria will transform all affected high-schoolers into “C” students — which stands for “chaos.”

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.
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