JUNE 11, 2001
Raise the educational bar
© 2001 WorldNetDaily.com

Excellence used to be encouraged, sought after and acknowledged. Once upon a time the fastest runner, best athlete and smartest students were recognized for their achievements. Excellence requires hard work, dedication and discipline. Those things "used" to be honored and were the thing by which goals were established.

Now, unfortunately, in the wake of outcome-based education, MTV, homogenized mandated self-esteem -- which is neither earned nor deserved -- excellence, is discouraged. Heaven forbid poor Johnny feels less worthy than his classmate who works harder, trains harder and (shame on him) excels at anything.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, "No man is justified in doing wrong on the grounds of expediency." Well, the same is true for women and children. No one is justified, or should be justified in doing wrong on the grounds of expediency or political correctness.

The San Jose Mercury News recently featured a story about how California school chief Delaine Eastin has mandated that getting a D (as in "derelict," "deficient" and "dumb") on the High School Exit Exam is sufficient for a student to receive a high school diploma. In California (and soon to be elsewhere) the definition of "average" is being lowered -- seeking to achieve a mean temperature consistent with the primordial ooze I guess. Apparently as long as a student can multiple guess their way to 60 percent in English and 55 percent in Math, that's good enough to graduate from California's public high schools.

This is just plain wrong.

Eastin's decision is an embarrassment, cowardly, gross malfeasance and an inimitable disservice to any and all California high-school students who will have to make the transition from the Land of Oz to compete in the real world.

California may be the most egregious, but it isn't the Lone Ranger.

Exit exams also have been very controversial. Several states, including Virginia, have rolled back test requirements for graduation when confronted with the reality of denying diplomas to thousands of students; others have had to endure ever-present lawsuits about the test's effects on minority and special education students.

New Haven Schools Superintendent Ruth Ann McKenna, who discovers in August how her students fared on the test, said the board's grading system was neither too lenient nor too harsh.

Thomas Jefferson observed back in 1824, "In a republican nation whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance." What better way to undermine the republic than to deprive its citizens of the ability to reason?

The outcome-based, homogenized goo of public education has become the ubiquitous cancer that is eating away the essence of the American soul.

Charlotte Iserbyte documents the orchestrated "dumbing down of America" in her book, and the nabobs like Eastin are complicit in implementing the policies of the government- sanctioned "dumbing."

Eastin and the California State Board rejected a "higher" mark that was recommended by a "standards setting committee" that was comprised of 100 educators. The group of English and Math teachers suggested a passing score of 70 percent (the traditional C grade). However, that was apparently too rigorous for the leftists. Since three out of four students would have failed to meet that 70 percent standard in math, Ms. Eastin said, "At 70% too many kids would have failed. We don't want to punish kids because schools weren't embracing the standards." Hey, here's a concept: Teach instead of massaging the results of your failures.

Punish the kids? Woman, that is exactly what you are doing with this misdirected politically correct bureaucratic excrement. Are colleges and universities going to lower their standards to accommodate these kids? Or is part of your implied agenda to keep your charges out of college and integrate them into some government/corporate school-to-work nightmare?

It was bad enough the original tests were dumbed down and made easier to mitigate the state's inability to actually educate; now, in addition to dumbing down the test, the state lowers the standard? Minority students fared the worst; only 25 percent of Latinos and 23 percent of black students passed the Math tests, according to the board.

What next? You know there seems to be a disproportionate number of big black athletes in the NBA. Maybe we should lower the hoop? And all those huge NFL players deny opportunity to smaller, weaker, less coordinated men who need a Superbowl ring to complete their self-esteem quotient. Conversely, there don't seem to be enough black hockey players and in yachting -- well come on?

Some cyber gadfly going by the name "Lizard" saliently observed, "State-mandated compassion produces, not love for one's fellow man, but hatred and resentment. The breakdown of 'basic civility' and the rise of the welfare state occur concurrently."

Any standard should encourage achievement. Lowering the bar so as to avoid embarrassment to the students and the school system that failed in its ability to educate is flat-out insane. The state educrats do far more harm than good by conferring high school diplomas to students who are not prepared.

When I consider those achievements that have prompted the sin of pride in me they were all the result of hard work: Eagle Scout, varsity letters, school graduations, military medals, badges and tabs, my Green Beret. I earned those things. To have some desk jockey lower the standards so that more guys could gain bragging rights for things I paid for with blood, sweat and tears not only would diminish hard won achievements, but discourages the benefits of hard work and excellence.

No reasonable person would suggest lowering the standards for airline pilots, or surgeons, because there would be obvious public health and safety ramifications. Consider the socio-economic ramifications of a flood of undereducated citizens entering the job market -- rationalized by a contemporary perversion of Alexis de Tocqueville's observation, "Americans are so enamored of equality they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom."

I have previously written that Americans' affair with equality would result in the evisceration of freedoms our forefathers fought a war to secure for us. Eastin and her California educrats are now apparently trying to mandate that equality in slavery.

Adolf Hitler reportedly noted, "What good fortune for governments that the people do not think." Delain Eastin and California are now both encouraging and rewarding students' inability to think.