Leftists are Profiteering from Equity Agendas that Target Our Children

by | Jun 15, 2023 | Fixing Education

Big Labor, paid consultants, and far-left activists want to replace “merit” with their “equity” agenda in classrooms. Students suffer the consequences.

In 2015, I discovered some concerning changes in the way my son’s school was assessing assignments.

Buried in the contents of a parent newsletter, the principal stated that “since grades represent a measurement of where students are in their mastery of the standards, if a student does not complete an assignment, there is no way to assign a grade including a zero.”

This statement inevitably impacted students, families, and the school environment. I witnessed my son’s study habits change for the worse. Since teachers could no longer deduct points for late assignments and students could retake tests, my son began to study less and turn in his work late. This was my first introduction to equitable grading practices—where accountability and merit are tossed out the window. At the time I had never even heard the term “equitable” as it relates to education, but later learned that it means providing equal outcomes rather than equal opportunities—the opposite of promoting merit.

“Equity” Pays

There’s a fortune to be made pushing these equitable grading ideas in pursuit of radical agendas. Joe Feldman is one of these profiteers. Feldman is the author of a book called Grading for Equity. He states that “when teachers use equitable grading practices their rates of failing grades decrease.”

The reason is obvious—clearly, if a teacher can no longer give zeros to students who don’t turn in their assignments, the number of failing grades can only decrease. But how does that help the child who isn’t doing his schoolwork?

These types of practices essentially abolish merit and disincentivize hard work. Even the American Medical Association (AMA) leaped in to disavow meritocracy in its “Prioritizing Equity” video series. The videos condemn medical education and hiring practices based on a doctor’s skill, calling it a “flawed concept.” Yet who doesn’t want their surgeon to be judged on merit?

Yet that’s what groups like the National School Boards Association (NSBA), the same organization that labeled parents domestic terrorists last year, support, given that NSBA’s website promotes Feldman’s ideas.

Perhaps the most concerning group involved in abolishing merit is the National Education Association (NEA), a major teachers’ union active at the forefront of equity initiatives. The NEA’s website states that “every teacher needs to be prepared to counter the inevitable claim of meritocracy that often hides privilege.” An NEA webinar calls traditional grading methods “racist” and suggests a bizarre alternative: Let students decide their own grades.

Inflating Grades

Public education that has been under the oversight of the U.S Department of Education since 1980 (thanks to Jimmy Carter) is failing our nation. Test results of 15-year-olds across 79 countries in 2018 show that America ranked 37th on the PISA math test, 18th for science, and 13th for reading—outperformed by China, South Korea, Poland, and (in math) even Russia.

In 2020, the nonprofit ACT Research reported that “grade inflation” is stinging high schools across the nation: GPAs are rising while standardized test scores are collapsing. In Virginia, only 31 percent of 8th graders scored at or above proficiency in both reading and math in 2022, according to the Nation’s Report Card—yet the Department of Education reported a 92 percent student graduation rate that year, up from 79 percent in 2011 and 86 percent in 2019.

Progress? Not quite.

It’s hard to believe that there is such a drastic improvement in ability levels of all students given what is happening in our schools. Teachers are pressured not to give students a failing grade. Administrators fear they’ll look bad if students aren’t passed on to the next level, or if their schools fail accreditation. Superintendents brag about their high school graduation rates to make themselves look good.

Far from succeeding, there seems to be a disconnect between graduation rates and standardized test scores and students’ actual ability levels. Teachers across the nation are encouraged to pass students who would otherwise fail—and in some instances, even fabricate passing grades. In Baltimore, an Inspector General’s report last year discovered that over 12,000 failing grades were switched to passing grades in Baltimore schools between 2016 and 2020 to help them graduate, according to teachers who came forward.

Far from equipping these students to succeed, this is just another example of administrators prioritizing their own optics instead of real academic achievement.

Scamming Parents

So who’s behind these equity agendas, and why? It turns out that Joe Feldman, the Grading for Equity author, may be one of the key players behind these so-called equitable practices. Feldman’s consulting firm, Crescendo Education Group, has entered into a partnership with both the NEA and American Federation of Teachers.

If a partnership with the two largest teachers’ unions in America doesn’t convince you of Feldman’s agenda, take a tour through his Twitter account. You’ll find posts agreeing with radicals like Ibram Kendi—the radical who believes that the only remedy to past discrimination is future discrimination—and Nikole Hannah Jones, founder of the awful 1619 Project.

And pushing this anti-education agenda pays well in taxpayer money. Feldman has contracts with school districts throughout the nation. In Virginia, Arlington Public Schools paid him $65,000 for a few virtual workshops. In Albuquerque, the public school system signed a 2-year contract with Feldman for $687,500. Other districts include Boston; Chicago; Talbot, Maryland; and many throughout California, with contracts ranging from $30,000 to over $200,000. All of these districts have hired Feldman within just the last two years to indoctrinate their employees on equitable grading practices.

And here’s the cherry on top: Feldman, taking his cue from the Marxist-led scam group Black Lives Matter, blames police for violence in schools.

Every taxpayer in America should demand that school boards defund Feldman and his like-minded equity cronies whose indoctrination seeks to abolish merit-based and liberty-minded ideals that strengthen our nation.

Let’s get back to actually teaching kids how to read and think critically rather than pushing social(ist) agendas.

Victoria Manning is the vice president of Students First VA and an elected member of the Virginia Beach School Board

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