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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Lowering the bar won't raise the standards

Monday, November 19, 2001

There are two ways to solve a problem - you either change the ingredients that combine to create the problem or you change the rules of the game and tell everyone the problem has gone away. Well, actually there are other ways to solve a problem but these two solutions are the ones available to the education system in America.

Let me explain.

California has traditionally been the hotbed of cultural and educational diversity. The word diversity is a signal, a catch-phrase of sorts. To me it means that California wants to expand the education system to be more inclusive. But that move will always come at the expense of some group of students.

California education leaders want to eliminate college entrance exams for all California universities and opt for some other form of measurement for future students. The California educators recognize that parental education and involvement and the quality of local schools, combined with the kind of community the student lives in are all important to the student's achievement. But here's the difference.

Instead of proposing measures to encourage parental involvement and upgrade local schools, the higher education officials in California instead want to change the rules. They recognize that parental involvement and local school upgrades are difficult issues to address. But instead of even addressing these two key ingredients, the California highbrows simply want to change the rules of admission.

By lowering the bar of admission, the California educators do a dramatic disservice to the students in California and elsewhere. The new rule would provide no incentives for local high schools to upgrade their curriculum or for parents to take a greater role in the educational development of their student. It assumes the worst from the students and expects the least. That combination will surely doom the future of education. And that's no exaggeration.

College entrance exams are a national yardstick that put all students on a level playing field. Some high schools are notorious for grade inflation whereby student achievement is measured in ultra-generous terms. But college entrance exams offer a true measure of achievement that gives educators a fair and impartial yardstick. But not in California.

If our goal is to dumb-down all of society we can reach that point with no problem. But our goal instead should be to take the best and the brightest and mold the future leaders of this nation. You do that through a competitive process that requires proof of achievement that measures all prospective students equally regardless of background.

California is trying to take the easy way out. Instead of addressing the core problem they choose instead to change the rules to fit their agenda. Lowering standards in the name of diversity is wrong in California and wrong everywhere.



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