There was a great post on Reason yesterday about the failings of the American education system. Steve Chapman explained that “[there] is a widespread impulse to treat all kids as equally able and willing to learn. But the results often fall dismally short of the hopes. … When the Chicago public schools scrapped remedial classes for ninth graders and put everyone in college-prep courses, “failure rates increased, grades declined slightly, test scores did not improve and students were no more likely to enter college,” according to a study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago. Among average and above-average students, absenteeism rose. The danger in putting the brightest kids in general classes is that they will be bored by instruction geared to the middle. But their troubles don’t elicit much sympathy.”
I remember in my private high school’s courses that – on the rare occasion someone of significantly greater or lesser ability slipped into a course – the whole class would suffer from being slowed down or pulled into tangents much more advanced than the material. It seems that many school districts are trying to forge classes almost exclusively like this. Yet this trend in thinking is indicative of a perspective that focuses less on actual learning and more on “not feeling so bad.” It’s not a shameful thing at all to be in a regular or college prep course (well, I didn’t think so when I was), but since when did we live in some sort of perfectly egalitarian society where everyone was created with the same academic abilities? Or is that just a projection from the politically-correct police?