The War on Merit

Asra Q. Nomani:

New York City’s gifted and talented students are in the crosshairs of woke activists who seek to impose “racial justice” in the city’s school system, not by improving education but by destroying opportunities for the city’s most advanced learners. And we can’t let them win.

A consortium of activists, including celebrity lawyer Ben Crump, has filed an 81-page lawsuit against the State of New York, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, and other state and city education officials, demanding the elimination of merit-based admissions to the city’s Gifted and Talented programs. The lawsuit argues the city’s gifted program and its specialized schools, including Stuyvesant High School and the Bronx High School of Science, perpetuate an illegal “racial hierarchy,” “racism,” and “segregation” because black and Hispanic students qualify for them at a lower rate than white and Asian students.

The proposed remedy – eliminating gifted and talent programs and schools and punishing smart kids – will not fix the systemic academic problems in New York City elementary and middle schools that are the root cause for this “racial hierarchy.” Instead, it will promote another discrimination: against advanced learners. The legal activists demand discrimination against students whose academic performance ranks in the top 1.5 percent of their peers, and they disparage these students as having “in-the-know” parents. It is common sense that we will accomplish nothing as a society and surely do much harm if we embrace a conception of “fairness” that involves attacking and delegitimizing excellence as a form of “racism.”