Alexis de Tocqueville wrote about the dangers of confusing equal rights with equal outcomes. Our system of justice is based on the rights of the individual. We believe in rewarding individual merit, in school and on the job. But the U.S. Department of Education is intent on guaranteeing equality of outcomes and is pulling the race card.
First, came the comment by Arne Duncan in November about the “white suburban moms” being upset that Common Core “standards” were revealing that their kids weren’t as “brilliant” as they thought they were. I don’t think too many people have noticed (or maybe haven’t wanted to say), but a large part of the new crazy Common Core standards concerns equalizing academic outcomes.
When you give points for creativity, explanations about how you got the wrong answer, and agreeing with “diverse” views, you can ensure equitable outcomes in grades. That has been the career goal of Linda Darling-Hammond, Obama’s education transition director, who has been in charge of creating one of the two national Common Core tests. I look at some of her articles and take apart the standards in today’s article, “Common Core: What’s Behind Arne Duncan’s Race Card?,” at the Selous Foundation.
Equality of outcomes in grades is scary, but equality of outcomes in school discipline is terrifying. But the Department of Education is teaming up with the Department of Justice with a new policy. We’ve all heard the stories about bullies, right? The new policy includes “social and emotional learning” for bullies, “restorative justice,” and ending the “school to prison pipeline” (as if the infractions themselves were caused by the schools). This is truly chilling, and frightening, especially for a child going to a school where administrators are afraid to punish kids for fear of lawsuits for racial discrimination from the feds. The Department of Justice already gives preferential treatment to certain groups. Remember the case of the intimidation by the Black Panthers at a polling place during the 2008 election? Now it’s coming into our schools and interfering with our ability to keep them safe for all kids. For this administration it’s not enough that punishment is meted out equally according to the infraction, but that groups, according to race and ethnicity, are punished equally in a statistical manner.
The federal government is imposing itself through the Department of Education on two fronts: classroom content through Common Core and discipline through the Department of Justice.
The fight is about education, and more. It’s about maintaining local control, and maintaining our justice system and our values. To get insights and strategies about the political angle, read www.tinatrent.com. Read her latest post, on the “listening tours,” “Common Core: It Will Take a Village to Fight a Village.” Our politicians need to do more than “listen.” Tina will tell us how to get them to.