Everyone has an opinion on how education should be defined and what the role of education should be. With that being said, education, as we know it, is being redefined based on agendas set forth by those who want education to be “lessened” based on equality.
Recently, the Virginia Department of Education was reported to considering dropping all advanced math classes below the 11th grade due to unequal representation of minority races and is also considering ending honors diplomas for advanced students due to “inequity.” Fortunately, Virginia’s superintendent of public instruction said a few days ago that the state is not eliminating advanced high school mathematics courses. The decision to eliminate honor diplomas has not made any other news as of today.
With all of the above… It got me to thinking…
What are we thinking? Where is the common sense?
Take this quote from Dr. Randy J. Guliuzza in an article I recently read… “Today, anyone daring to speak common sense is publicly pummeled with disparaging names (or worse) by members of a rapidly growing deviant movement. They use a hostile crowd to systematically isolate people from each other by making everyone afraid to be associated with the pummeled person lest it also happen to them – a method to strong-arm conformity in thinking and control the behavior of an entire group.”¹
This is how I feel precisely with those who are wanting to destroy the idea and ideals for education. It could also be the question that many students will ask in the future, “Why can’t I be educated?” or better, “Why am I being denied to take a course because there are some who are not capable of doing so?” Hard questions that must be answered on the other side of the conversation.
Those who know me know that I am a huge proponent of education and the right of it for all in the name of equality and equity. I have said before that education is one of the last strongholds that can help society “get better.” And it is our job as educators to do what we can to make that happen.
However, when we begin to lower standards (why would we anyway?), we suppress knowledge and limit the growth of students who will be our future. When “education” wants to “level” the playground, per se, wherever the bar is now set, there will always be some who still have to “rise” to that level. Will we continue to lower the bar until all can have “success?” When the standards are lowered, mediocrity becomes more prevalent and eventually accepted. Students who decide to take advanced classes do so because they want to or they need to in order to foster success for what they choose to do in the future.
Now, for those who are going to say, “Well, some students are not ‘smart’ enough to take advanced classes or get an honor diploma.” That’s true. But why should those who are, be denied the opportunity? There were days when school did not even have those types of classes. When I was in high school, I never took an AP, Honors, or Dual-Credit class, and I feel I received a very well-rounded education. My first exposure to calculus was my sophomore year in college. My only “advanced” course in high school was Advanced Math, and that was because that’s what it was called.
Anyway… my thought on what education is and should be for is to allow and help a person better succeed in society when they enter it. Many say, “School is not for everyone.” I agree; that is why education should provide outlets for students to find their niche and be successful in it. That is why the arts and career and technical programs are such an essential part of education and should be promoted as such.
Also, as an educator, I know all schools are not equal and how I wish they were. All schools do not, cannot, or choose not to have the same classes and perform academically as other schools (and there are many reasons for that which can be discussed later). However, I will say that you can find one success story after another of young people who defied the odds and bettered themselves because they wanted to. They decided not to hold themselves back due to whatever reasons and succeed. That is what education provides; an opportunity to succeed for any student who wants to at any academic level.
And let’s add this one other thought… There are many areas of life that we want standards to be kept very high. Just for the sake of conversation, how about these occupations… airplane pilots, medical doctors and surgeons, architects, etc. Let’s also not forget sports. No one ever said they want mediocrity and lower standards there.
If we start limiting the education of students based in the name of equality and equity, we go against the very definition of what both stand for. This we all know, there is always someone more intelligent than you and those who are not as intelligent as you. Neither case disqualifies one or the other from being a quality individual. In almost every case of life, we choose who we want to become. Let’s continue to let education be a vehicle that helps determine that.
1Guliuzza, R, J. (2021). Refusing to live by lies. Acts & Facts, 50(5), 5.
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©2021 J Clay Norton
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