This week on America This Week, the podcast I do with @mtaibbi, the featured story in the last segment will be Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut. (Due to popular demand and all that.) It’s not long, so read up! Harrison Bergeron (Vonnegut) Full Text.pdf https://t.co/vmezBW6tsK — Walter Kirn (@walterkirn) June 16, 2023 Madison’s very well … Continue reading Revisiting Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron, Madison’s English 10
William Jacobson: Yesterday I posted about the proposed elimination of “blind auditions” for symphony orchestras, so that race and gender could be used as selection criteria to help diversify orchestra musicians. It would be the elimination of what previously was a meritocracy: For decades leading symphony orchestras have used “blind auditions” to hire musicians. That is, the … Continue reading Harrison Bergeron University
Chester Finn: Yet the complacency of most Americans regarding the performance of our K–12 system has long been noted, as have the many structural, institutional, and contractual obstacles to changing that system in ways that might actually alter performance. This dates back at least to 1983’s Nation at Risk report. One reform effort after another gets opposed, … Continue reading “If everyone was out of school, and everyone had learning loss, then aren’t we all equal?”
Micah Walker: Behind the smiles and jokes, the school’s lone band, orchestra and piano teacher was masking her sadness and frustration. Thomas spent the last two months fighting for her job at Bates, a K-8 school on Detroit’s northwest side. Thomas said Bates Principal David Bailey notified her April 12 that she would be leaving … Continue reading Bates Academy cuts ‘premier’ music program and beloved teacher
Sara Randazzo: The parental pushback in Culver City mirrors resistance that has taken place in Wisconsin, Rhode Island and elsewhere in California over the last year in response to schools stripping away the honors designation on some high school classes. School districts doing away with honors classes argue students who don’t take those classes from … Continue reading Eliminating Advanced Classes in the name of equity: Madison’s English 10 deja vu “This is a sound pedagogical approach to education”
Matthew Barakat: Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares is launching an investigation into one of the state’s most prestigious high schools, acting on complaints that students there weren’t properly recognized for their achievements on a standardized test. Miyares said at a news conference Wednesday that his Office of Civil Rights is investigating the Thomas Jefferson High … Continue reading Thomas Jefferson High School Governance Investigation
Joe Mathews: If California is ever going to achieve true equity, the state must require parents to give away their children. Today’s Californians often hold up equity — the goal of a just society completely free from bias — as our greatest value. Gov. Gavin Newsom makes decisions through “an equity lens.” Institutions from dance … Continue reading “California should abolish parenthood, in the name of equity”
Jonathan Turley: Alison Collins, the Vice President of the San Francisco Board of Education, has declared meritocracy to be racist even in the selection of students at advanced or gifted programs. As we have previously discussed, this has been a building campaign in academia as educators and others denounce selection based on academic performance through testing. At issue … Continue reading “We Cannot Mince Words”: San Francisco Education Official Denounces Meritocracy As Racist
BBC Conductor Marin Alsop believes “music is all about living in the positive”. As one of the few women to reach the top of her profession, she’s embarked on a music programme to reach 10,000 children and to create opportuinites for girls and women to follow in her footsteps. Worthwhile links: The tyranny of low … Continue reading High Expectations: Marin Alsop
Beena Raghavendran: At the school, recess is made up of clear adult-facilitated activities. On a day last week, a kindergartner said he wanted to play basketball. A recess coach explained that wasn’t a choice at the time; he decided to play another game. Melissa Jackson, the principal at Forest, used Playworks when she was principal … Continue reading “Structured Play” & Recess Consultants
In one of Kurt Vonnegut’s most enduring short stories, Harrison Bergeron, everyone is finally equal thanks to the efforts of the Handicapper General. However, one of the many lasting messages of the story is a derisive one. In the futuristic world of Harrison Bergeron, accomplishment is no longer the measure of stature. Instead, it is all about trying, of recognizing effort, regardless of result.
However, a recent summary of three decades of research reveals that when it comes to raising smart children, developing their work ethic is in fact the most critical component. Whether it is success in school or in life, research indicates that innate intelligence and ability are simply not as important as a person’s level of effort.
Much to its credit, the Madison school board has mostly ignored the March 2007 recommendations of the district’s Equity Task Force. This earnest but unhelpful committee delved into the abstractions of what distinguishes “equity” from “equality,” how the board might commit to equity and what esoteric guidelines could measure that commitment.
This point needs to be emphasized. Madisonians aren’t afraid to tax themselves. They just want good services in return and know that their money isn’t being wasted.
But I can’t for the life of me see them rallying around a pompous and abstruse equity policy, especially one that reads like it was formulated by the UW Department of Leftwing Social Engineering. (Example: “Equity will come about when we raise a generation of children tolerant of differences and engaged in their democracy to stop the processes leading to inequity.”)
The school board, after a suitable 14-month delay, should politely shelve the task force’s recommendations when it finally gets around to voting on them in May.
Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron provides a timely read after Marc’s article.
Tamar Lewin: According to the second annual report from the College Board, which administers the Advanced Placement program, about 60 percent of American high schools now offer Advanced Placement courses, and the average high school offers a choice of eight such courses. “The number of students participating in A.P. has more than doubled in 10 … Continue reading AP Program Gaining Increasing Prominence Nationwide
“The greatest asset of the American, so often ridiculed by Europeans, is his belief in progress,” Victor Vinde, in 1945 Mary Kay Battaglia recently wrote about the virtual non-existence of electronic communication with parents in the Madison School District. I agree with Mary Kay’s comments. Having said that, I believe that any District technology investment … Continue reading K-12 Schools & Technology
John Tierney writes: At one level, the debate is over current controversies in public education: Many parents believe that their children, mostly in elite schools, are being pushed too hard in a hypercompetitive atmosphere. But other parents are complaining about a decline in programs for gifted children, leaving students to languish in “untracked” and unstimulating … Continue reading Celebrating Mediocrity?