#StudentAchievement #MeritCommendations #schools #education #competition
Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax County, Va., favors student “equity.”
As a result, TJHS and other secondary schools in that county chose not to promptly disclose that students had won Merit Commendation awards from the National Merit Scholarship Corp.
There were 230 affected students in total, who did not get the news in time to include it on college applications.
Why? Most of the commended students were Asian-American. Other non-commended students’ feelings might be hurt.
Washington Post columnist George Will discussed the Fairfax case in a column that was also published Jan. 22, 2023, in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In other school districts, some books are being banned and certain historical facts are not being properly taught, or even disclosed, because the majority white students might feel ashamed to be white.
The first instance is a matter of competition. There are some winners. Others should not feel like losers, but, to put it bluntly, they didn’t make the grade.
It may not make them any less smart, but they didn’t make it. As Will points out, do school track meets not declare winners because it might make the other competitors feel bad?
Students will learn, either in school or outside, that they will have to compete for things, such as jobs, college admissions etc. They may not always win. They may as well learn that lesson sooner rather than later.
It’s tough to see “equity” in not telling students that they won something legitimately. Most of the winners’ schoolmates are likely to congratulate them, even if they may be disappointed that they didn’t win themselves.
The second instance is a matter of deprivation of learning. Students should know about the behavior of their forebears, even if it may not have been pleasant, or commendable.
Rather than make them feel bad that they are white (and privileged), it might make them think about how they treat others. It might make them more empathetic to schoolmates whose upbringing may have been filled with discrimination and lack of privilege.
In either instance, schools should do the right thing, regardless of how it might make some children feel. Most children are resilient. They will get over temporary feelings. Schools do a disservice depriving students of information that they deserve to know.
Another lesson here is that if Asian-American students do so well on Merit tests, find out why that is. Perhaps their parents and their culture make educational achievement a top priority. There is certainly nothing wrong with that.
There could be an argument here that book education by itself doesn’t always create the best people. The A students often end up working for the C students, as the adage goes.
It is also argued that certain cultures put too much pressure on students at too young an age.
More likely, the students put the pressure on themselves, since parents can’t MAKE them succeed.
Make no mistake. History has shown cavernous opportunity and achievement gaps among students of certain races and backgrounds. If we want to correct those, we should find ways to close the gaps by helping the underachievers, without depriving achievers of their rewards.
We can also learn that the U.S. is a multicultural society that includes people of many races, backgrounds and circumstances. In that milieu, students, sooner or later, will learn that not everyone is like them. They will either adapt to that, or try to disrupt that in some fashion.
Such disruptions will help no one and hurt many. Do you really want your child to become that sort of disrupter?