The educational institution continues to act as if minority students are not capable of high performance. Unfortunately, this sweet bigotry of low expectations leads to potentially disastrous political decisions.
Patrick Henry High School in San Diego recently announced that it was cutting many advanced courses, including English, history and biology. Premiere Michelle Irwin wrote that the move is “to support the district’s goal of reducing stratification while increasing student access to course offerings.”
Of course, “increasing student access to course offerings” is an Orwellian way of describing the elimination of previously offered courses.
This counterproductive trend is not unique to San Diego. Progressives in more than a handful of jurisdictions have launched an attack on gifted and talented courses, specialty courses, and even AP tests.
At Patrick Henry High, Ms Irwin and other policy advocates argued there was little difference between specialized and regular classes because the curriculum is the same. But the composition of a class can make a substantial difference in the amount of learning that takes place.
The driving force behind the move appears to be the fact that the demographics in honors classes don’t align neatly with the school as a whole. A FAQ offered by the school denounce the “inequalities” between the two types of classes. “Our goal is to have students of all ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds represented in our courses,” the document states.
It’s a noble goal, but there is no evidence that the school denied access to classes because of the student’s ethnicity or family income. But putting obstacles in the way of top performers is a natural consequence of the growing obsession with fairness, which places equality of outcome above equality of opportunity. The left is plagued by the idea that it’s evidence of racism if the racial demographics in every activity don’t reflect the larger population.
But to assume that one variable in a multivariate equation will eventually be perfectly proportional is folly, as economist Thomas Sowell pointed out in his valuable book on the subject, “Discrimination and disparities.”
The message the school sends to minority students is that they cannot succeed in higher grades and that high standards must be diluted to accommodate them. It’s not true. In literature from grade 11 to Patrick Henry, more than 25% of students are African American and Latino. Vietnamese students are the most overrepresented racial group proportionally in high school.
If schools demand fewer students, that’s what they’ll get. High expectations and high standards help students reach their full potential, and schools should not limit these opportunities in a misguided pursuit of “fairness.”