As a new school year begins full of hope for increased normalcy and fear that it may remain elusive, the city continues its war on educational excellence. The latest targets are honor rolls and class rankings, which only makes ironic sense given the rank dishonor of the educrats calling the shots in our schools since Mayor Bloomberg left office.
As usual these days, it comes down to feelings. The students who do better than others should no longer be celebrated for their achievements. Their success should not be emulated but swept under the rug. It’s the opposite of how the real world works.
“Recognizing student excellence via honor rolls and class rank can be detrimental to learners who find it more difficult to reach academic success, often for reasons beyond their control,” a new city guidance revealed by the New York Post says.
The Department of Education document is even critical of grading kids. “Grades are not only a reflection of student performance but can be self-fulfilling prophecies,” it says, “influencing future student performance either directly through their psychological impact or indirectly through instructional decisions, placement in courses, and guidance in post secondary options.”
This is all participation-trophy thinking and highly detrimental. Kids have to learn that performance matters. Results matter. As the DOE notes, sometimes things beyond one’s control have a negative impact, but that’s life. Children must be taught early on to strive for personal achievements so they can succeed not only as students but throughout their lives. When challenges come up, you meet them as best you can. You don’t use them as excuses — but that’s exactly the lesson the DOE leadership is teaching.
This is par for the course under the de Blasio administration. The mayor’s two positive educational initiatives were establishing universal preschool and insisting on reopening as soon as possible during the pandemic. Every other policy has been poison: Working to halt academic screening for middle schools. Diminishing gifted and talented programs. Trying to force preteen students to go to schools far from home. Attempting to weaken the “Elite Eight” that use the Specialized High School Admissions Test for enrollment by looking at other, subjective factors for admittance.
The main purpose behind all these measures is to foster racial equity. That’s a laudable goal but these are not the answers. Improving the elementary schools in minority communities would have much more impact. So would a reduction in the social problems that are more widespread in poorer neighborhoods — though that is a job for more than the DOE. Lowering standards and failing to recognize excellence will do no good for anyone.