American University Holds Training Session On Avoiding Single Standard Grading To Achieve “Antiracist” Objectives

American University has brought in an academic from the University of Washington-Tacoma with a curious mission for an academic institution: to teach academics not to grade on the writing ability of students as opposed to their “labor.” Professor Asao Inoue believes that writing ability should not be assessed because such assessment interfere with “antiracist” objectives.

Inoue is the director of the UW-Tacoma Writing Center and has explained that “White language supremacy is perpetuated in college classrooms despite the better intentions of faculty, particularly through the practices of grading writing.” It appears that grading on writing ability is one of those acts of white supremacy. He has insisted that professors who use a single neutral standard for all students are perpetuating racism: “[using] single standard to grade your students’ languaging, you engage in racism. You actively promote white language supremacy, which is the handmaiden to white bias in the world.” 

He also previously declared: “I stand up here today asking everyone to listen, to see, to know you as you are, to stop saying shit about injustice while doing jack shit about it. We are all needed in this project, this fight, this work, these labors. But because most in the room, in our disciplines, are white, I have to speak to them too, many of whom sit on their hands, with love in their hearts, but stillness in their bodies.”

The thrust of Inoue’s lectures appear to be a “labor” focused grading system that expressly rejects uniformity of a single defined standard — the touchstone of academic work for generations. What is curious is that such non-uniform approaches to grading is an invitation for bias — the scourge of many universities from prior years where minorities and women faced fluid and often unfair grading practices.

The announced session was apparently organized with the university’s top diversity official and its vice president of campus life, Fanta Aw.American University would do well to give further thought to adopting such views and, at a minimum, have a broader debate over the pedagogical values of the university. Inoue’s views are not simply extreme but in my view inimical to the academic mission of most universities. It also does a disservice to students who overall show falling writing abilities. These students are not going to be evaluated in their careers by their “labor” or given tailored standards. They will be compared according to their objective abilities. Indeed, federal laws take a dim view of fluid standards and favor clearly defined measurements for performance.

What do you think?

109 thoughts on “American University Holds Training Session On Avoiding Single Standard Grading To Achieve “Antiracist” Objectives”

  1. This charlatan is another jumping on the bandwagon of the BlackDadsScatter, er ah, BlackLivesMatter movement and others like it that seek to excuse, under the phantom veil of racial inequity, scofflaws, miscreants, and chronic underachievers from the consequences of their own actions. And it’s working. A survey of journalistic writing will show a precipitous decline in standards and quality over time. And for a real lesson on how poorly most humans communicate, descend into the hellish quagmire of social media for a few minutes. English teachers everywhere are rolling over in their graves.

    Ebonics is alive, well, and tolerated. I was sitting in a seminar recently and a well-respected and intelligent subject matter expert (who is an American black) actually used “boaf” (meaning two) and “aks” (meaning to query or to question) during his otherwise excellent talk. The audience didn’t cringe or bat an eyelash because it’s been conditioned to expect and tolerate the purposeful dumbing down of the language by certain of society’s classes.

    1. Doubtmeister – I would be generous enough to put boaf and aks down to regionalisms. When I was at Creighton University, I had classmates from the southside of Chicago who sounded like Mafisio. They were actually the sons of doctors, dentists and lawyers. It was just where they grew up. 😉

      1. PCS – I’d expect that from someone from the South side, just as I’d expect “da two yoots” from my cousin Vinny given that it’s reasonable to expect such speech patterns from folks not exposed to higher education. But not from someone who’s been exposed to higher level learning at and matriculated through the graduate level and beyond, when speaking to a group of similarly educated individuals.

    2. No clue why black demotic bothers you. Blacks generally switch back and forth between the demotic and standard English depending on circumstances. It’s out of place in classroom discussion and would be bizarre in a written submission, but there’s nothing wrong with it per se. Diglossia is not usually a feature of spoken English (you see it in Greek and Arabic), but there’s not reason to complain about it.

        1. Neither ‘boaf’ or ‘aks’ are examples of black demotic, though the solecisms in question might be used by blacks speaking demotically. They are akin to regional dialect and don’t merit complaints any more than does Jimmy Carter’s accent.

  2. Parents save up for year to send their kids to college, and then sometimes discover it is more of a social justice propaganda madrassa than a serious institution of higher learning.

    University staff need to check politics at the door. Their focus should be on education, without any political interference or hand wringing about 70 gender pronouns.

  3. Grades are not racist. A 100 page stream of consciousness rambling written while high could be the product of a lot of work, but it should not compare to a concise, effective, well written essay.

    Are crazy people running universities?

    It’s not the effort, but the result that matters in education. Otherwise, would you want your brain surgeon to inform you that he flunked all his exams, but passed med school with flying colors because he put in a lot of effort?

    The existence of a diversity official is a red flag.

    1. Karen S – a 100-page stream of consciousness rambling while drunk is called James Joyce’s “Ulysses.” It is considered a classic although I think it is because no one understands it.

  4. It is interesting that the so called university in question here is named “American University”. Maybe Dumbschmuck U would be appropriate. It costs a bundle to pay the tuition at that gathering of nitwits.

  5. Nut cases like this need to be teaching in Cuba. English and now American English is the spoken and written word in America. Oh, you can find spanish in many places here and some people speak American with different accents. Like: Where da white women at? That question made one movie a hit. But so did another phrase in that movie: But Not The Irish!
    Blazing Saddles needs to be shown in that dumbed down college.

  6. The choice is simple – Freedom or Dictatorship. The American Founders provided maximal freedom to individuals as they severely limited and restricted government. Americans enjoy every conceivable natural and God-given freedom and right per the 9th Amendment. The freedoms of speech, thought and discrimination are imperative. If Americans cannot discriminate, Americans cannot be free. People must adapt to the outcomes of freedom; freedom does not adapt to people, dictatorship does.

    1st Amendment

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    9th Amendment

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

  7. American University’s top management, esp. including its V.P. of campus life, Fanta Aw, has its head in a really warm place. This is craziness run amok. If my kid were attending this fruitcake institution, s/he would be enrolled elsewhere at the beginning of the next semester.

  8. “But because most in the room, in our disciplines, are white, I have to speak to them too, many of whom sit on their hands, with love in their hearts, but stillness in their bodies.”
    BTW Inoue is a patronizing fool overcome by the bigotry of low expectations. To him, the protected class must be incapable of learning hence the dumbing down of writing standards. If he said that about my kid, I’d do more than merely “sit on my hands.”

    What’s the over-under for those fearless academics in the audience who rose to counter this nonsensical view of race and the world? I’m taking the “under” and my guess is the bet is 1.

    1. We’re the Left Coast. Are you expecting better? When a less than 2.0 student complains about grading, the peanut gallery (i.e., me) tells them the USC Rowing Team has an opening and good luck.

    2. “…in the throes of stupid…”

      Perfect! The essence of Karl Marx’s alternative to freedom and self-reliance.

      “Another university…”

      According to this theory, universities from sea to shinning sea should be filing for bankruptcy, yet they persist. “Freedom-loving”

      Americans continue to pay the tuition to these incoherent, liberal academies of collectivism.

  9. What’s surprising is that it took as long as 50 years for the affirmative-action mentality to extend to instructional grading. Way to go if you want to make a black man’s diploma an indicator of flat nothing.

    It’s time the entire edifice of what’s misidentified as ‘civil rights law’ was blown up.

    1. Yes, nothing like competing for a job with a participation trophy. It’s amazing these enlightened souls do not see that they are rendering their very own existences obsolete. But I guess when you live in a world where it rains all the time, you figure it will just keep on raining. Until it doesn’t.

    2. The diploma was never relevant. Employers are compelled to fill affirmative action quotas regardless of the quality of the paper. Corporations simply need the paper and the race on the books to obtain contracts and rumors of contracts.

  10. More leftist knowledge and enlightenment, something they are quite famous for.

    JT, I admire your courage. I’m waiting for the first academic or media person to call you a “nazi” for exposing leftist hypocrisy (or standing for free speech). I’m afraid you are going to lose your liberal card soon.

    Leftists advocate such lowered standards because AA beneficiaries tend to do poorly in a competitive environment against Asians and Whites.

    All of the lowered standards will never bring most Blacks or Hispanics into the mainstream due to the average IQ differences in these groups. Wish it wasn’t true but it is. No 2 individuals, let alone groups are “equal” and it is impossible to make them so. The average Ashkenazi Jewish IQ is 115, East Asian is around 108, Caucasian 100, Hispanic 93. American Black 87. Unpleasant facts, but facts nonetheless.


  11. Another chapter in the nation’s pursuit for equality of outcome. Every person in the race gets a trophy.

    1. Reminds one of the scene in About Schmidt where the title character takes a gander at what’s mounted on the wall of his prospective son-in-law’s childhood bedroom: a string of participation ribbons.

  12. American Univ is damaging it’s own brand with this kind of nonsense. Perhaps a “top 10” could toy with this and still be considered a desirable university, but these fair-to-middling institutions are playing a dangerous game when they adopt policies or programs that bring their academic standards into question.

  13. Mostly we are talking about black people.

    Yes, they are frequently handicapped by inferior language skills.

    But the answer is remedial writing classes, not accomodation.

    The impulse to accommodate inferior skills is racist: “The poor kids can’t handle it.”.

    Employers won’t accommodate inferior skills and the young people who are not taught will be handicapped all of their lives.

    I know lots of white people who never achieved their career potential because they lacked necessary skills.

    Do we want to knowingly condemn black kids to the same fate?

    1. That’s what community colleges are for. Students who need remedial English classes shouldn’t be in a four-year institution. I would consider some exceptions for foreign-born engineering students, but American-born students who overwhelmingly major in the humanities should have college-level reading and writing skills prior to admission.

    2. monument…..I very much agree that “the impulse to accommodate inferior skills is racist.”.
      I judge illegal aliens as law-breakers because I don’t think I am smarter than they….They know what they’re doing. They are not beneath me in intelligence.
      But can someone please give an honest answer to this question: WHY are black people frequently handicapped by inferior language skills? Frankly, I think that the ” inferior language skills” are self-imposed, not to mention, lucrative.
      Six decades since Civil Rights, with free program handouts and free education along the way? Seriously?

      1. Of course they are self-imposed. When are we going to stop catering? Learning to read and write is “acting white.” How awful, literacy.

        1. Oh gosh I had forgotten about the “acting white” charge. That has done so much damage to black people who were trying to improve their lot in life.

  14. I guess we are supposed to be surprised and outraged by this. Yawn. Apparently, many of the people who post here think this is the correct course of educational focus.

  15. As someone who has taught essay writing, it is free of bias. There is a rubric. You follow the rubric, you get a good grade. It is that easy. Are we bringing back Ebonics to the classroom?

  16. I think it’s a no-brainer, Jon, the type of notion so absurd it barely deserves scrutiny. College has already jumped off a cliff in terms of challenge and legitimacy; if this came to pass parents would literally be paying through the nose for adult day-care, and we’d have many thousands of people entering professions with no acumen or skills to speak of whatsoever. You even need to ask?

    1. “literally be paying through the nose…”? Literally?? Their money actually comes out of their nose?

  17. Professor Turley, so then I can create my own method of citation for my research paper for your class? No more Blue Book and struggling with Supra, Infra, Ibid, and Id?

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