Social Justice, Equity and School Grading Systems Based on Race
This article is an opinion piece from Bill Lockwood. Catch American Liberty with Bill Lockwood weekly at 11 a.m. Saturdays on NewsTalk 1290.
Several years ago, I wrote about the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) program that has been put into place in multiple counties across America. This program has as a stated goal the reduction in “the detention population” of juveniles — especially kids of color and ethnic minorities. It begins with the assumption that kids of color are locked up at higher rates than Caucasians simply because the system is rigged against them, and this is due to underlying prejudices among the majority population.
The JDAI program specifically states that it is to “require states to work to reduce the disproportionate representation of minority juveniles in secured facilities.” Underlying reasons for misbehavior, such as broken homes or different cultural value-systems, are not even considered as accounting for misbehavior.
This is “social justice,” which has little to do with real justice but focuses upon disparities in society and arms the government to “equalize” the outcomes. How is this accomplished? By simply refusing to lock up minorities when they have committed crimes. Equity.
Grading in Schools
Now this same equity-template is being used in school grading-systems. Local Government Information Services (LGIS) published a piece in an Illinois paper, West Cook News, entitled “OPRF to implement race-based grading system in 2022-23 school year.” The Oak Park and River Crest High School system, in suburbs of Chicago, will “require teachers to adjust their classroom grading scales to account for the skin color or ethnicity of its students.”
Student grades in OPRF have been poor, to say the least. The article states that “in an effort to equalize test scores among racial groups, OPRF will order its teachers to exclude from their grading assessments variables it says disproportionally hurt grades of black students. They can no longer be docked for missing class, misbehaving in school or failing to turn in their assignments, according to the plan.”
The article continues stating that “advocates for so-called ‘equity-based’ grading practices, which seek to raise the grade point averages of black students and lower scores of higher-achieving Asian, white, and Hispanic ones, say new grading criteria are necessary to further school districts’ mission of DEIJ, or ‘Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice.’”
A number of news organizations have hurried to label the above story of OPRF “race-based grading” as “false.” Snopes, The Chicago Tribune, Business Insider, AP News, Chicago Business, and others, just to name a few, have thrown the penalty-flag on LGIS, which initially reported it.
However, just like the Facebook “fact-checkers,” these “official censors” demonstrate why “fact-checking” censorship is a subjective and inaccurate practice. This equals real danger when practiced by gigantic corporations or the government.
School board members at OPRF discussed just such a plan on a May 26 meeting at which Laurie Fiorenza, an administrator in that district, provided a slide-presentation titled “Transformative Education.” What does this include?
“Examining equitable grading practices” which are to be implemented by the fall of 2023. Teachers are then to “integrate equitable assessment and grading practices into all academic and elective courses.” This is to include “restorative practices centered on equity.” Teachers will utilize “the racial equity analysis tool.” What is that? It is to consider policies of grading that considers race.
One of the Fiorenza’s recommended papers that educators should read is "Grading for Equity" by Joe Feldman. Feldman is part of Crescendo Education Group out of Oakland, California. Feldman’s paper plainly emphasizes over and again that teachers do not know how to grade because of implicit bias against minorities. Traditional grading has within it “imbedded inequities and inaccuracies.” It is not an overstatement that this assertion is the foundation of Feldman’s entire thesis.
“Traditional grading practices are often corrupted by implicit racial, class, and gender biases,” reads one sub-headline. These “implicit biases,” it is claimed, have resulted in “disproportionately punish(ing) African-American, Latino, low-income, and special education students,” and these “biases similarly impact aspects of individual teachers’ grading.”
It is further asserted by Feldman that what they call “soft skills” — behaviors, attendance, participation, and effort — be discarded as figuring into a student's grade.
In plain English: the minority students are a huge behavior problem at OPRF and their academic achievement lags far behind other students. But rather than holding those students accountable for their behavior, or requiring them to meet academic standards that are required of other students, OPRF will follow Feldman’s recommendation to quit assessing poor behavior or factoring it into grades — including attendance in class.
Mastery of subject content is cast aside in favor of simple improvement. “Equitable grading” means that a student will be rewarded “growth over time.” This means exactly what it looks like. A white student who masters the subject will score no higher than a minority student who shows some progress. And this is because they will not consider achievement against an objective scale.
The standards are changed. Feldman writes that “equitable grading practices significantly reduced the disparity between non-white and white students.” The sole question will be, how much “progress” did the student display? Put it in terms of a grade. Students who typically make D’s and F’s, but will improve to a C, show more improvement than a straight-A student. The lower student will therefore be assessed higher than the straight-A student.
This new fad of “equity grading” is nothing less than racism in another dress. Society seems to have accepted misbehavior and consequent low-academic achievement by minority children and are bending over backwards to accommodate it.