Today I free my inner crank and tell you to get off my lawn. I’m an attorney by training and had to pass three bar exams to be licensed to practice in three jurisdictions. It wasn’t easy, but my clients were assured I knew my stuff. That would no longer be the case if a proposal to do away with the bar exam carries the day. The Delaware Supreme Court diversity committee recommended that prospective lawyers be licensed to practice by gathering personal recommendations and working in clerkships instead of taking the bar exam. The committee said the exam is a “barrier” to blacks and Hispanics. But in a congressional hearing, Senator Ted Cruz pointed out the obvious racism in this approach, the notion that blacks and Hispanics are too stupid to pass the test. “Do you believe that there’s something about Hispanics and African-Americans that prevents them from taking the bar exam and doing well on it?” Cruz, who is Hispanic, asked a judicial nominee who is black. Both took and passed bar exams. Cruz went on to argue cases at the Supreme Court, reaching a pinnacle of the profession.
If lower standards for lawyers don’t bother you, how about your doctor? Minorities in some circumstances can now gain admission to the University of Pennsylvania’s med school without taking the MCAT admissions test. All they have to do is complete college-level science courses. One doctor noted that doctors are called upon to make life and death decisions. “The stakes are too high to start lowering standards or taking shortcuts with basic fundamental scientific knowledge necessary for developing critical thinking skills to diagnose and properly treat diseases,” the doctor says.
Lower standards are not just a growing problem at professional schools. A college instructor at the University of Cincinnati says rules against plagiarism and cheating on tests unfairly affect minority students more than whites. “[T]he idea of academic integrity is racialized through and through,” he says. Minority students are more often accused of cheating, so his solution is to relax the rules and not be too “punitive” when cheating is found. So let me get this straight: minority students will never measure up no matter what, they need crutches to succeed and, on top of that, they need the intercession of a priestly class of professorial fixers if they’re going to make it through life. How is that not racist? How is that not ‘learned helplessness’? How does that not create resentment among anyone who worked hard to meet all the requirements without cheating?
Also in colleges, faculty hiring and tenure decisions in some places now depend in part on adherence to diversity, equity, and inclusion orthodoxy. This reduces the importance of academic merit and achievement in deciding who gets hired and who gets to stay. Tuition keeps going up while academic standards keep going down. At some point, people will figure out it’s no longer worth the money.
Academic standards are declining before college. I know a philosophy professor who says many students showing up in his classes now are not ready or able to learn. They haven’t done the work necessary to understand advanced material. To see how this might have come about, consider a place like Baltimore where a big report on grade-fixing last summer found thousands of grades were changed from ‘fail’ to ‘pass’. It’s a whole lot easier to pass kids through than it is to meet their learning challenges.
The future of all this is not good – elementary school students who never learn to read, professors whose heads are full of diversity theory instead of real knowledge, less competent professionals, and an adult population half of which is functionally illiterate. It leads to a society where it is perfectly acceptable to urinate and defecate on the street – ugh! Encouraging others to achieve less is the wrong way to go, no matter how good the reasons might sound. The best thing you can do for people is insist they meet high standards. If you don’t want to meet high standards, get off my lawn.
©Christopher Wright. All rights reserved.