Boston Suspends Advanced and Gifted Programs Over “Equity” Concerns

We recently discussed the condemnation of meritocracy in education as racist by one of the top officials in the San Francisco public school system. That position has fueled calls to end advanced or gifted programs around the country including in New York City.  Now, Boston has followed suit with a suspension of advanced learning program for its fourth, fifth and sixth graders. These measures will make our public schools less diverse over time in my view.While I do view the low number of minority students in such programs to be a serious problem, I have long opposed efforts to eliminate the programs or establish quota systems to rectify that problem. Students of all races benefit from such programs. While there is clearly less diversity, the best solution is not to eliminate such programs but to work harder in the earlier grades to allow minority students to excel (and ultimately gain admission to such programs).Nevertheless, according to WGBH and a few conservative sites, Superintendent Brenda Cassellius is calling for a one-year enrollment suspension of the Advanced Work Class due to both the pandemic and “concerns about equity.”  Cassellius said “There’s a lot of work we have to do in the district to be antiracist and have policies where all of our students have a fair shot at an equitable and excellent education.”

To be sure, the Boston system is facing a sharp contrast in the racial makeup of the program as opposed to the district at large. The district is 80 percent Black and Hispanic but 70 percent of the programs are white and Asian. However, denying those gifted students this option does not advance educational or diversity policies.  Greater diversity is possible but the focus should be on working to help minority children to excel despite what are often adverse conditions in the communities or at home.

Gifted programs and elite academic schools are designed to allow students to reach their full academic potential with other students performing at the highest level of math and other disciplines. It is often difficult for such students to reach that potential in conventional settings. Teachers have to keep their classes as a whole moving forward in subject areas. That often means that academically gifted children are held back by conventional curricula or lesson plans. Those students can actually underperform due to boredom or the lack of challenging material. Many simply leave the public school system.  Moreover, students tend to perform better with students progressing at their similar level. Teachers can then focus on a lesson plan and discussions that are tailored to students at a similar performance level.

These concerns should be particularly acute in Boston which has seen 40 percent of its student population chronically absent from classes.

Eliminating such programs creates a false “equity” by lobbing off the top performing programs.  That does not advance true diversity in my view.  In fairness to educators like Cassellius, these programs do siphon off staff and money. However, a touchstone of a public school system is that children of different needs and backgrounds can excel.  The minority of white and Asian students in the district reflects in part the exodus from public schools by such families due to mistrust in the commitment to such policies.  Suspending these programs will only accelerate such departures in my view.


315 thoughts on “Boston Suspends Advanced and Gifted Programs Over “Equity” Concerns”

  1. “Allan says Blah, blah, troll, troll, blah.”

    Is that what you say when you get tired of watching reruns of Cuomo killing seniors?

  2. OT:

    Yesterday, talking about people wearing face masks to reduce Covid transmission, Biden said “I hope everybody’s realized by now, these masks make a difference. We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we’re able to get vaccines in people’s arms. … The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime everything’s fine, take off your mask, forget it. It still matters.”

    Today, Marsha Blackburn responded “Neanderthals are hunter-gatherers, they’re protectors of their family, they’re resilient, they’re resourceful, they tend to their own. So I think Joe Biden needs to rethink [it].”

    Does Blackburn think that Neanderthals are still alive?? LMAO.

  3. For those that still think the Russia Hoax was valid here are two sites with back-up documentation of memos and documents in the thousands including a timeline. The proof also demonstrates that this whole thing started as a dirty trick from Hillary Clinton to hide her own corruption.

    1. Natacha and Gainesville have been impervious on this issue. Still, get ’em with the stiletto

      1. Those that say that are wrong and the Senate Intel frequently has wrong information.

        John Solomon posted all the reports and details so people can make decisions for themselves. When he writes an article based on documents he encloses the documents. Only lazy people dispute the facts. I advise you to personally skip what Solomon reports and read only the reports he uses to create the report. Examples would be FBI files, emails, etc.

        Go ahead and dispute the details Solomon has released that weren’t available to the Senate or the House. IF they didn’t have the documents when the report was written of course the Senate Intel would be wrong but some people are too dumb to recognize that fact.

        Of course, if you wish, you can act the part of a fool.

        1. “the Senate Intel frequently has wrong information.”

          Quote some of it, and prove it’s wrong.

          “Go ahead and dispute the details Solomon has released”

          Go ahead and dispute the details that the SSCI released. They ALSO “posted all the reports and details so people can make decisions for themselves.”

          “the details Solomon has released that weren’t available to the Senate or the House”

          Name some detail that Solomon addressed and that according to you wasn’t available to the SSCI.

          You demand that others produce quotes for you, but generally won’t do it yourself.

          1. Are you too stupid to know that many in the house and Senate complained that all the FBI information along with other documents weren’t released at the time of the hearings. Today we have a lot more information in the public hands than our legislators had in their hands when the report was politicized and written.

            Most of the FBI documents have been released now so even the lies during the hearings have been proven to be lies.

            Making a fool of you is not my job and with this latest comment of yours we are all on notice that you can make a bigger fool of yourself than anyone else could possibly do.

            1. Notice that you were asked to “Quote some of it, and prove it’s wrong,” and to “Name some detail that Solomon addressed and that according to you wasn’t available to the SSCI,” and you cannot.

              1. One of the two links I provided gave you a list of things to consider along with documents and FBI reports. They prove you wrong along with much of the Democrat side of the SSCI reports. Much of it is in the form of a list with the links that document what happened. That is known as proof.

                FBI clearly was warned Russia collusion was Clinton dirty trick, Steele dossier flawed — and persisted anyway.

                That is the basis behind all the arguments and links.

                1. It’s ironic that you complain when someone else doesn’t excerpt quotes for you, but you are unwilling to excerpt quotes from your own links.

                  When I say “Quote some of it, and prove it’s wrong,” your reply is unresponsive if it doesn’t include a quote.

                  1. I almost always except quotes for my own links or provide a statement before hand to state my point. If you want more, all you need to do is ask, but you are dishonest. You don’t want an answer. You want to waste time. You want to rebut with lies. You run away. You are a lot of bad things and a coward to boot.

    1. Considering the poor service these embassy officials have given the American people I wish I had been there to take pictures for their Wall of Shame.

      Do it again.

      Besides, Biden says these things are just their cultural ways, like running concentration camps with gang rape, and shoving big swabs up diplomat’s rears.

      No diplomatic immunity for you.

      1. If Biden makes a state visit to China will they make him bend over? Oh, wait, he’s already doing that for them. He should still get the swab. Lizard Tongue Kerry too.

      2. ” I wish I had been there to take pictures “

        I think we should send anonymous over there and let them do that swab on a daily basis. He assumes that position before his leftist Gods all the time. At least in China he could get a paycheck.

  4. Mr. Turley’s concerns are spot on but I think the situation is even worse. This country seems determined to commit intellectual and cultural suicide. Meritocracy is only acceptable for athletics. Mediocracy for all else. Denying gifted students from the opportunity to excel at a level commensurate with their talents and desire is beyond stupidity. We now have a culture that condemns math as racist, worship of the word and pursuit of perfectionism as symptoms of white supremacy according to the departing chancellor of NYC schools. What a decadent and dumb society we are becoming. The little Maoists attacking all aspects of western civilization will win because they are the most ruthless

  5. Special programs were designed to recognize special abilities. Eliminating the brass ring for one does not grant the ring to hundreds or thousands who show average abilities. What happened to aspirations?

  6. Equal outcomes by taking the top performers and limiting them to the lowest common denominator. The socialist way.

      1. JF

        Since the folks holding your puppet strings won’t let you say ALL LIVES MATTER, whom do you want to leave out? Who doesn’t matter? Someone obviously because you won’t say all lives matter.

        What a terrible, sad creature that makes you. Are you one of the lives that matters or are you among those that don’t?

      2. When I attended elementary school in the 1940s children were held back a grade if they failed to master the material. Some were advanced a grade or two. It made no sense to attempt to teach multiplication to a child who had not mastered addition. Nor did it make sense to teach addition to someone who had mastered multiplication.
        Times changed. It made no sense to some to have a 15-yr-old 8th-grader socially although he set new 8th-grade sports records. Children were automatically advanced to the next grade regardless of performance for social reasons. Children could no longer fail in academics.
        Times changed. It became the same in high school. Graduation guaranteed regardless of performance.
        Times changed. It became easy to get into college regardless of performance.
        It has been a slippery slope.

  7. Malnutrition is absolutely a problem for poor people in the US, many of whom are black. 12 million children in the US are food insecure, may live in a “food desert” without easy access to fruit and vegetables, may rely on cheap, non-nutritious food, … Don’t confuse calories and nutrition.

    Moreover, malnourishment as a child can have a permanent effect on IQ, so having adequate nourishment now doesn’t improve the IQ of a 50 y.o. person who was malnourished as a child.

    “An estimated 40,000 people today are incarcerated for marijuana offenses ”
    And my comment was “like marijuana,” so I was also talking about other things that shouldn’t lead to incarceration, not just pot.

    1. My 9:42 PM comment was supposed to have posted as a reply to Art Deco’s 8:55 PM comment.

    2. Did it occur to you that remand to state prison run about 650,000 a year? That’s about 1,800 a day and about 360 a day on bills for which the top count is a drug charge. People go into journalism because they’re bad at math.

    3. Malnutrition is absolutely a problem for poor people in the US, many of whom are black. 12 million children in the US are food insecure,

      Lobbyists and social workers invent terms like ‘food insecure’ in order to justify more public expenditure. They’re saying ‘food insecure’ because there isn’t any actual malnutrition. Obesity is actually inversely correlated with income.

    4. What are blacks as a ratio of US population? 15%. 40% of aborted Americans are black.

      Do you deny any relationship between the exorbitant, bordering on genocidal rate of black US abortions and quality of life issues for blacks?

      Is 40% the right rate, too high or too low? Stats from Kaiser Health Foundation, likely very accurate. I’m surprised if progressives have not condemned the report and the state itself, precisely because it’s accurate.

      1. Women of every race get to decide for themselves whether to have an abortion.

        The birth rate for Black women is also higher than for women as a whole. So the high rate of abortions means is that Black women have more unintended pregnancies, and the way to address that is by improving access to and use of the most effective forms of birth control and to address health problems that might prevent a woman from using effective forms of birth control.

            1. Not trolling, but making an observation others here recognize. Not only sociology departments but also other organizations see something that they think could be better and they define the problem, often persuasively, and then craft one or more solutions to be undertaken, usually by government.

              You have heard of a straw man argument, well often these are straw man social problems defined in such a way that a solution seems obvious and must be undertaken at once. Often there will be a real set of problems underlying the process, but the tendency is to define away from the actual problem and into a structure that can be solved the desired way.

              It is largely bogus or nonsense.

              Many cities are grappling with the ‘homeless’ problem but I am more familiar with LA. The Fashion District and other parts of the city look like the worst one can see in the poorest Third World countries. Millions are spent on the homeless problem and the more they spend the more they get. I suspect some of those agencies don’t really want homelessness to go away. It is their bread and butter, their reason for existence. They take steps that appear likely to increase the problem and, in fact, do. This is a fine example of the straw man social problem and its ‘solution’.

              It doesn’t have to be that way. Some cities manage. Beverly Hills appears to have very little homeless sleeping on sidewalks and blocking entrances to stores or burglarizing cars [common in oh-so-virtuous San Francisco]. It can be managed but will never be managed successfully as long as Sociology 101 creates and then assaults castles in the clouds rather than taking a pragmatic approach to dealing with the problem.

              You do the cloud castle thing when you say with absolute confidence: “the way to address that is by improving access to and use of the most effective forms of birth control and to address health problems that might prevent a woman from using effective forms of birth control.” I know physicians who have worked in that community and they could tell you your solution sounds good but won’t work. Having those things available does not mean that people will use them. You would, but they aren’t you.

              Here is a real example. A young black woman developed high blood pressure during pregnancy. She was poor but had access to free health care. Her doctor begged her to come in for regular visits to keep her blood pressure under control because if she didn’t her child could have mental impairment. She didn’t come in for free and available health care. Her child was premature and retarded and cost the county about $200,000 to keep the child alive. That was the third $200,000 retarded child that woman had. One doctor recommended a tubal ligation so it wouldn’t happen again. Her response, “No, I want to be able to give my next boyfriend a baby.”

              Solutions that work for you will not always work for other people, particularly if you know next to nothing about them.

              1. Oliver Wendell Holmes had the right idea. That’s right. I said it. Buck v Bell. Yes, enough! Sal Sar

                1. In this society they would be sterilizing parents of gifted children because of ‘equity’ and the need for equal outcomes.

                  1. Yes Young, that is precisely what they have been doing for quite some time, not person by person, but by social engineering. For decades. Demographic warfare, waged by billionaire globalist oligarch enemies of all mankind. And it will get worse as we go.

                    See, they don’t need us anymore. All the migrants have been swell, at lowering wages and acting as a check on the legacy majority and so forth, but in the end, we are all in their crosshairs. The mask will slip off, and we will soon see, if it’s not plain enough already, that they are going to go not only after us, but after all the other diverse groups as well.

                    They are looking forward to having adequate robots and artificial intelligence at their disposal, so that they can liquidate the former managerial and skilled worker castes. The added virtue of liquidating the higher castes first, is that the lower castes are less able to resist. See how that works? That’s why we’re near the top of every form of systemic attacks the social engineers have planned.

                    But, at the end of the day, they are shooting for global depopulation and aiming it at every single stratum below themselves, “gifted” or not. The emergent public health dictatorships, I fear may lead to a new phase in their plans that will make all that’s come before now look tame by comparison.

                    Sal Sar

                  2. See, one of the many ethical conversations about the coming AGI (artificial general intelligence) has mostly revolved around fears of autonomous machine intelligence that, inadvertently or not, causes species level extinction of humanity. Terminator style, or perhaps by accident, a la Nick Bostrom’s “paperclip factory” scenario.

                    But I suggest, the coming AGI will not be what wipes us out. No, I think those who OWN the coming AGI, are the ones who are going to wipe us out. I think they fully intend to depopulate the Earth, within decades, substantially, by about 80%, is my guess. I think Bill Gates was softballing it when he said the prediction “10–15% in his 2010 Ted talk.

                    This is the only way they can actually get to their “carbon neutral sustainable economy” in the relevant time period before their predictions of catastrophic climate change take effect.

                    So here it is. With the IOT, with 3d printing, with improved robotics and AI, they will be able to replace factories, corporate R&D, all that. The billionaires are closing in on technology that will allow them to be archons of an Earth that is as populated as they want it to be– OR NOT. They do not need us anymore, and they are going to cull there herd.

                    Sal Sar


                      MIT Physics professor shares the math on how it is nearly impossible that we should be able to control co2 emissions sufficiently with an 8 billion soul world population…. we would have to reduce energy consumption by 90% or more. To make the cut in time to avoid catastrophic climate change effects.


                      Bill Gates said:

                      “Now, the exact amount of how you map from a certain increase of CO2 to what temperature will be, and where the positive feedbacks are — there’s some uncertainty there, but not very much. And there’s certainly uncertainty about how bad those effects will be, but they will be extremely bad. I asked the top scientists on this several times: Do we really have to get down to near zero? Can’t we just cut it in half or a quarter? And the answer is, until we get near to zero, the temperature will continue to rise. And so that’s a big challenge. It’s very different than saying, “We’re a twelve-foot-high truck trying to get under a ten-foot bridge, and we can just sort of squeeze under.” This is something that has to get to zero.

                      Now, we put out a lot of carbon dioxide every year — over 26 billion tons. For each American, it’s about 20 tons. For people in poor countries, it’s less than one ton. It’s an average of about five tons for everyone on the planet. And somehow, we have to make changes that will bring that down to zero. It’s been constantly going up. It’s only various economic changes that have even flattened it at all, so we have to go from rapidly rising to falling, and falling all the way to zero.

                      This equation has four factors, a little bit of multiplication. So you’ve got a thing on the left, CO2, that you want to get to zero, and that’s going to be based on the number of people, the services each person is using on average, the energy, on average, for each service, and the CO2 being put out per unit of energy. So let’s look at each one of these, and see how we can get this down to zero. Probably, one of these numbers is going to have to get pretty near to zero.


                      That’s back from high school algebra. But let’s take a look.

                      First, we’ve got population. The world today has 6.8 billion people. That’s headed up to about nine billion. Now, if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by, perhaps, 10 or 15 percent. But there, we see an increase of about 1.3.


                      oh…. the fact checkers say…. people will have smaller families. yes, of course. but they will live longer and that will offset the reduction in family size for generations. And when we are talking about catastrophic climate change– remember, that’s what Bill was addressing in the first place….. we don’t have several generations for the “sustainable” economy utopia to be reached.

                      Read between the lines: if they believe their projections about catastrophic climate change, and if they are serious about this math, then they must be planning on culling the herd. Simple as that. Sal Sar

                    2. Young said: “The Singularity is near.”

                      yes, Young, i have read crazy Ray Kurzweil’s book the Singularity, and it’s obvious that Silicon Valley lordships are craving the day when as foretold by Prophet Ray, they will be able to replace all their defective organs with cloned biomass, and failing that, upload their brains into a new cyborg body, “Ghost in the Machine” style, or upload a copy of their very own brain-souls into the internet and live forever. Sounds nutty but go read the book and see for yourself

                      Now do you think they are planning on reaching that utopia with an extra 7 billions hanging around ,exhaling co2 in their bad breath, farting, eating cows that belch and fart methane, and messing up their plans, with a catastrophic climate change that will mess up their favorite future vacation destinations? I don’t

                      Do you think that they are humane and merciful enough, not to liquidate unthinkable numbers of surplus people, who stand in their way? I dont.

                      This is not to say that everything crazy Ray says is wrong. I agree with the notion that once we hit AGI, it’s almost impossible to see where things will go after that. The exponential growth of technological progress will be breathtaking. It already is.

                      one thing that seems obvious to me, is that they will decide they don’t need us when they are on the threshold of it, and they won’t tolerate us sticking around.

                      Sal Sar

                    3. DID YOU WATCH IT? That Ray, definitely had a vision for the future! At about 4:34 he starts talking about how biotech can be used to program a lab enhanced virus that would threaten humanity! The baddies could do that! Yes of course, the baddies.

                      Yes, of course! Ray saw the possibilities back in 2009. No wonder old Bill Gates was predicting the coronavirus plague back in October 2019! It’s been in the works for years, perhaps. Oh, wait I forgot, the sars-cov-2 is naturally emergent, just believe the CCP and the WHO and Fauci, they all pinky swear it!


                      So let me put this together for you. This is just a possibility! Let’s speculate about the future like old Ray Kurzweil does, indeed, using Ray’s comments, and the other links I provided from Bill Gates and the physics professor from MIT.

                      a. The billionaires don’t need us anymore. Robotics, 3d printing, AI. And better stuff like that coming. Nanotech! Bioengineering! etc.

                      b. they dont want us out there exhaling and farting out co2 and CH4. We’re just stinking up their planet with our needless surplus of labor.

                      c. they are warning us to use contraception and abortion to reduce family size, because we don’t have jobs anymore for you anyhow, and you’re going to eat grass and fake beef which will be paid for by food stamps, and anyhow, you only can just look at porn and can’t even have sex during lockdown so don’t worry about having kids. And the kids cant go to school anyways, what does that tell you? Loop back to a. .

                      d. if we don’t contracept or die off fast enough, they got a backup plan…..

                      e. bioengineer a lethal plague, far, far worse than sars-cov-2. heck, they could bring smallpox back online, but it only kills 1/3 or so. Something more like say, hemorrhagic fever crossed with corona, maybe?

                      f. THEY WILL ALREADY HAVE THE VACCINE AND THE ANTIDOTE. This is a party that we will not be invited to. If you are reading this now, then you are not important enough to be saved.

                      g. zero hour is after they have AGI in hand, but before “catastrophic, irreversible global climate changed” is reached. Maybe about 2030– or maybe not even that long

                      I know, a dark and sinister imagination, to conceive of such things. And yet, I am not the only one who sees it coming. The question is, do you, and what will you do to avoid this fate? Sal Sar

                    4. Sal – One way they could thin us out is make a vaccine against a dangerous plague that sterilized 90% of the population and all of the black people. Farrakhan suspects that I think.

        1. “the way to address that is by improving access to and use of the most effective forms of birth control”

          That was supposed to be addressed by Obamacare. Barry had 8 years to ensure that access to free birth control was made available to all women who could not afford to pay for birth control. But as soon as he was able to get his signature piece of legislation passed he immediately moved on to trying to get his climate change BS carbon exchange legislation passed.

          So your mulatto messiah never followed up. That’s because he didn’t actually care. And of course none of you ever held his feet to the fire to make him accountable.

          All that being said, prophylactics are easily accessible and affordable to poor women and men regardless of their race.

          But LBJ incentivized them to have welfare babies. Which paid unwed mothers more than wed mothers for every child. That is why the black nuclear family was essentially destroyed, and now having a worthless “Baby Daddy” is A-Ok.

          LBJ wanted to make sure that the virtual black voting plantation was replenished.

  8. Interesting article about the problems with aging and degrading infrastructure in the U.S.:

    The article points out that “infrastructure” considerations should not be limited to physical items and processes, because all this will not be properly maintained and operated without skilled and careful (motivated) personnel in charge. This is related with the emphasis on “lowest common denominator” curricula. Quoting from the article:

    “For decades, America’s ruling elite have deliberately cultivated an underclass via low-skill immigration, both legal and illegal. While they were brought here as workers, these immigrants are people as well: Their children are the future human capital stock of the United States. When America admits an immigrant with fewer skills than the average American, they are admitting a person whose children will, on average, grow up to have fewer skills than most American workers. They will certainly have fewer skills than the children of the highly-skilled immigrants America has chosen not to prioritize.

    “The Trump Administration sought to change this, promoting a plan to focus immigration on highly-skilled workers who would have more highly-skilled children. Congress refused to pass that plan. Now, the Biden administration is mulling amnesty for low-skilled illegal immigrants, and is pledging to octuple arrivals of (mostly low-skill) refugees. If Biden succeeds, he will create an America where the population is less skilled, and less able to maintain the basic trappings of modern life. And that may mean a country where the lights go out a lot more often.”

    1. We don’t want high-skilled immigrants, either. We want a greater proportion of the native- born to be high-skill.

      1. Instead of bringing in high-skilled immigrants let’s import the schools that made the immigrants high skilled.

        Our schools are turning out ignoramous snowflakes by the millions who need to call an electrician to change a light bulb.

        1. Our schools are turning out ignoramous snowflakes by the millions who need to call an electrician to change a light bulb.

          No, our schools are wasting resources on half-assed liberal education for people who benefit very little from it. People get along just fine without the fare that high school English teachers trade in and without the coursework you have to have to amass distribution credits while getting a baccalaureate degree. Provide secondary school literature study to the 12% who might make satisfactory intellectual hobbyists and offer the option to another 35% or so. Limit tertiary level study of literature to the 1.2% of each cohort who seek a degree in literature and to the 0.9% who seek a degree in speech and rhetoric.

          1. if you ask why the billionaire oligarchs who really run this country, tolerate such an ineffective educational system in a formerly important country to them like the US, maybe it’s because, they don’t think they need us anymore.

            at this point, they are getting some of the best breakthroughs in machine learning. what AI can do now is already incredible, and it will get faster and smarter very, very quickly.

            they need to break us as a people, to disable us from resisting their plans, and to be weak enough for them to neutralize us when they have it all ready to go.

            they don’t need us to be well educated. in fact, we only present a danger to them if we are. therefore they must destroy our nations, culture, our sex, all common aspects of social identity, our religious ties and ethnic ties, our solidarity with other workers and professionals and neighbors, to divide and atomize us all, so that when their hot knife comes, we will be an undifferentiated mass of human butter so much easier to cut and liquidate when they so desire

            all the talk talk talk about fiddlesticks is inertia. most of our discussions of constitutional nuance on this page are whistling past the graveyard.

            mobilization against the plutocracy and their wicked plans is the urgent need at this time

            Sal Sar

          2. Art– “No, our schools are wasting resources on half-assed liberal education for people who benefit very little from it. ”
            As I said–turning out ignoramuses. With the new Woke liberal arts curriculum they aren’t even doing liberal arts very well. Might be able to do a few African dances reasonably well, though.

            I suspect you read history for pleasure. Get your hands on a high school history text and see how far you can get. I managed about two pages. It was unreadable and, I suspect, unread. Recently had a similar experience with middle school math. Terrible material. Giving the kids lobotomies would be quicker and kinder.

            1. As I said–turning out ignoramuses.

              We’re all ignorant about just about everything above and beyond basic literacy, basic numeracy, our specialized occupational knowledge, and our hobbies. There’s a segment of the population who have some layers of liberal education that allow them to appreciate things others don’t. That’s a good thing, but not a crucial thing for people to thrive. In the civic realm, having such knowledge is correlated with vanity, and that vanity often cancels out the benefits of liberal education.

              Every one of us can meet an ignorant person every day. We just have to look in the bathroom mirror.

          3. Art,
            “People get along just fine without the fare that high school English teachers trade in”

            Why do you say this? What is the fare that HS English teachers trade in? Perhaps there is a difference between what they currently trade in and what they should be teaching.

            1. Why do you say this?

              Because it’s true.

              What is the fare that HS English teachers trade in?

              Why are you asking me dippy questions?

              1. Art,
                I’m not asking you ‘dippy questions’. I’m asking you what underlying perspective you have on the current English class content and the necessity of it. Is it an issue of current content and methodology (we would be in agreement) or English at all? If it is the former, then what would you prefer being taught? What would constitute, in your opinion, a solid English writing/lit course?

                I am out of date on most current public school English classes; my perception is that they are very watered down. I was lukewarm on my daughter’s HS English literature selections, but the teacher is a little old school in regards to his writing instruction. My son’s MS English classes really need attention–very little rigor and barely any writing development. My other two kids are homeschooled.

                The English instruction I received as a student once upon a time was something that any American should have. The writing instruction worked through grammar, vocabulary, and a wide range of writing development. The literary side explored a variety of traditional and more contemporary great works, emphasizing analysis (not critical theory, but examination of symbols, metaphors, themes, archetypes, for example) and student introspection. We had to do a great deal of writing; I often had to mimic the great poets’ writing style in assignments, and, we were expected to develop perspectives and defend them (not just opinion pieces but more substantial research writing as well).

                We live in a society that is intended to be governed of the people, by the people, for the people. Thus, we must be adept at argumentation and analysis of a wide range of information, as well having developed a philosophy of life that includes liberty, the importance of the individual, the rule of law, and the belief that we are all equal before the law. This individual philosophy is developed as people wrestle with understanding, defending, and embodying their values. Reading, discussing, and writing about the Great Works means students are in conversation, essentially, with those who have thought the most about the big ideas over the course of centuries.

                The Founders plumbed the depths of human understanding and experience to create the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They had thought deeply about what constitutes liberty and a balance of powers and the kind of political and social environment that can encourage individuals to aim for excellence. Perhaps we ought to include in our knowledge stack not only the things of merit that they knew, but also the stories and poems of merit that came after.

                1. I wasn’t discussing the content of high school English courses. It is my position that the study of English literature should be an option in secondary school, not a standard part of the curriculum.

                  As for secondary school English, I think departments should develop a matrix over time. On one axis would be literary forms: epic, verse, short fiction, play, novel, and creative non-fiction (essays, letters, memoirs). On the other, would be periods: antique and early medieval (all translated), later medieval and early modern (with glossaries), 18th c (concluding in 1817), 19th c (concluding in 1914), and present era (concluding 50 years ago). The third axis would be grade levels subdivided into accelerated and decelerated. Each work would be coded by the number of lectures a teacher would be expected to devote to the work given the grade level and degree of accelerations / deceleration. The teacher can select any work approved for the class he’s teaching. The body selected have to cover a certain number of forms and a certain number of eras during the course of the academic year (say, three of each) and have an expected devotion of lectures which sum to about 90 lectures. You have an examination at the conclusion of the semester (short answer, with at least one essay), short tests at the conclusion of each work, snap quizzes at irregular intervals, and short papers (at least one per work). Each teacher would give notice to his department head as to the works he would be teaching so texts could be ordered and so the department head could check to make sure the assemblage of texts was compliant. The matrix would be adjusted each year, with some titles recoded, with new titles teachers have discovered added, and with rare removals.

                  1. Art,
                    I rather like your matrix concept. It echoes how I was taught once upon a time and is how I wish my kids were being taught. The canon in the district has a few good works still but has far too many other selections that are not as robust as I’d prefer.

                    “It is my position that the study of English literature should be an option in secondary school, not a standard part of the curriculum.”

                    I am perplexed by this perspective, however. Why shouldn’t the study of English literature be a standard part of the curriculum? What makes this study unsuitable for a very broad swath of the student body?

                    1. Prairie, orthodoxy among most here is that certain significant numbers of school kids should be tracked for trade school and away from college. Dollars to donuts they are not volunteering their kids for this track.

                      Hardly anyone is and for good reasons – see average lifetime income of college grads vs non-college – which, even if one does not think liberal arts are of benefit to everyone, is the problem with this plan..

                    2. AnonJF,
                      “Prairie, orthodoxy among most here is that certain significant numbers of school kids should be tracked for trade school and away from college. Dollars to donuts they are not volunteering their kids for this track.”

                      I am torn on this issue. On the one hand, I do not like the concept of tracking. Having other people determine a child’s educational direction does not set well with me at all. Oddly enough, I do support some degree of ability grouping. I guess I just don’t want kids locked into a particular ‘ability group’. However, I also support trade schools. We do need bright, skilled people to be in the trades. Not everyone is (or should be) suited for white collar jobs. And, many can earn a great deal of money if they run a successful small business. I want a highly skilled plumber to service my pipes. I want there to be other extremely bright Joel Salatin-type farmers out there. There are some people who chafe at the thought of being cooped up in an office all day; they enjoy working with their hands. Some trade work takes a great deal of problem-solving and knowledge of how things really do work in real life. A good share of my family is peopled with farmers who are some of the best problem-solvers around. Having a diversely-skilled workforce makes a society more resilient. What if everyone took a white collar job? Who would be there to grow food or fix buildings or keep the lights on?

                      “Hardly anyone is and for good reasons – see average lifetime income of college grads vs non-college – which, even if one does not think liberal arts are of benefit to everyone, is the problem with this plan.”

                      I guess I’m not so worried about lifetime income. There are other things that give life meaning. There is definitely a lower limit for income that can affect happiness, and, I want people to be versatile and resilient, but I see denying people some element of a liberal arts education as more problematic for the American experiment. My farming grandparents read a fair bit on a wide range of subjects and enjoyed learning even into their twilight years. Reminds me of a line from Our Town by Thornton Wilder. Dr. Gibbs said to his wife: “I was afraid we wouldn’t have material for conversation more’n’d last us a few weeks…I was afraid we’d run out and eat our meals in silence, that’s a fact.–Well, you and I been conversing for twenty years now without any noticeable barren spells.” My grandparents also put a great deal of thought into self-governance, as well as what constituted a well-lived life.

                    3. I think we mostly agree Prairie. I favor maximizing options to the extent possible and not sealing people – kids! – into categories too early, but we must recognize some will never pass calculus, and we want it taught. I also believe all humans can probably benefit from and even appreciate literature and art. To repeat myself, those here who seem to mostly favor separating kids out into the trades track early, are mostly not thinking of their kids, and those who are blue collar often – rightly – take pride if their kid is the first in the family to “go to college.” How many athletes interviewed on TV, promised that to “Momma”?

                    4. Prairie, orthodoxy among most here is that certain significant numbers of school kids should be tracked for trade school and away from college. Dollars to donuts they are not volunteering their kids for this track.

                      They’ll volunteer their children for that track if it’s the optimal use of their kid’s time.

                  2. here’s joe friday who is rightly proud of working in agriculture and construction, telling other people it’s bad somehow? major alienation I guess.

                    hey- be proud of who you are and let young people decide if they want to work in trades. and don’t get to personal. your kid may be a lawyer but mine may be shoveling rocks for hourly pay for all you know. one would not confirm nor deny such things, but don’t get too far ahead of yourself on your presumptuous stereotypes where your fellow conversationalists here are concerned.

                    there’s dignity in labor of all kinds none the least of which is building things
                    not everybody can push a pencil or peck at a keyboard for a living

                    “tracking” is a bad word the educational establishment uses to suggest that its bad to help people find vocations

                    why would they do that?

                    because they want everybody to go to university because that is a big racket, in spite of its vain promises and failure to deliver sufficient social value to justify their vaunted status, endless accolades, special legal privileges, none the least of which are their tax avoidance schemes which allow them to compete with local business at a constant advantage

                    state-monopoly-capitalism is what we have now, a decadent form of capitalism, screwed up system really, big enterprises are taking over everything, and we just lick their boots like so many fawning scycophants.

                    Sal Sar

                    1. Kurtz, I haven’t said working construction or any other kind of blue collar work is bad. I said tracking kids early for that by cutting them off from liberal arts is bad and that almost all parents – including those who work in construction – want their kids to go to college. If they can cut it, that is the smart thing to do and you know it. I seriously doubt you advised yours otherwise, or that any of the many lawyers here did.

                    2. Hey Joe maybe my kid didn’t get tracked into technical training, but then he flunked out of university. And would be better off financially if he had been tracked into being an electrician like some of his friends were. Instead of being told by everybody he was university material when he wasnt. And then counted himself lucky for getting a job in ag shoveling rock. Maybe for all you know, that’s on me, and your remarks make me bristle at my own failures as a parent. And maybe my own failures had to do with trusting the conventional wisdom of sending all the kids to school, instead of letting some who would rather do other things, make a stab at it.

                      Lucky for a lot of kids that they don’t do everything their parents want, and as they age, they take on the responsibility of making their own choices, and owning their own results.

                      I also personally had many years of working as a lawyer where I could have done better if I had learned to be a welder .

                      I also have several cousins who were university trained as engineers, went to work at big auto, and got downsized very quickly as they moved their engineering ops to India and overseas. My cousins retrained as systems analysts and do ok, but they didn’t need to go to university at all to accomplish that. The university education is very, very overrated.

                      Especially white boys. Because lets face it. Wrong gender, wrong skin color. That’s life I guess. If we have sons and daughters, we can see the difference as they grow up in how they’re treated, on nearly a daily basis., And contrary to the official narrative, it’s boys who are constantly degraded and not vice versa.

                      I am Gen X not a boomer and you may not have seen the changes that came later.

                      Sal Sar

                    3. “Hey Joe maybe my kid didn’t get tracked “

                      Sal what many forget is that everything is a tradeoff and that one has to use trade offs to their best advantage.

                      Academics teaching arcane subjects do so because that is the only job they can get using that knowledge. Unfortunately such openings are very limited. Nonetheless they suck in students for a degree or PhD in that subject who then have no opportunity to teach and flip hamburgers at McDonald’s.

                    4. Kurtz, I’m all for the options staying open and for training in trades being one of them.

                      Automation and off shoring can impact many levels of work, blue to white collar, and adjusting to that is a trick.

                      Your son is probably not done yet and it takes some longer to try every dry well. Probably not your fault either.

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