De Blasio’s absurd move isn’t being put into place to improve gifted education, or make it more “accessible.” It was made to kill gifted education, because for America’s elite, allowing the plebs to have access to a system of meritocracy where not everyone is equal is too traumatic to the state’s governing ideology.
Gifted education is a reminder that in real life children are not a blank slate, and talent is not equally distributed, either between individuals or between groups.
Bill de Blasio’s wanton destruction of one of the few remaining meritocratic public school programs in America to placate angry and envious activists within his own party is indicative of a far-reaching, intentional obliteration of meritocracy in every aspect of American society.
At this moment, New York’s public school system includes several of the most distinguished public schools in the United States. Stuyvesant High School has produced four Nobel laureates in its history. The Bronx High School of Science has produced eight—the most of any secondary school on Earth and equal to all of China.
The source of the schools’ sustained excellence is obvious: They are in a major world city, filled with the intelligent and talented children of intelligent and talented people, and admission to the schools is strictly merit-based. A student can’t gain admission by having rich parents, or being a legacy, or having the right skin color or reciting the current catechism on gender.
In New York City, a student can only gain admission to one of the metropolis’ flagship high schools by scoring well on the Specialized High School Admissions Test, a challenging exam that is free to all. Test-takers are ranked in order of their score, and allowed to choose their school by a complicated system that uses what’s called a “deferred acceptance algorithm” to match students with schools based on highest mutual preference.
The excellent Stuyvesant High School and the Bronx High School of Science ought to fill New York with pride. Instead, de Blasio tried this year to abolish the SHSAT and change admissions to a system that simply admits students with the best grades at New York’s many different middle schools. This change would destroy what makes the schools special, and replace it with the new liberal false god of diversity.
Thankfully, de Blasio failed, though only due to the skilled use of identity politics by parents and activists in the city. Opponents of de Blasio’s school overhaul framed it as an attack on Asians, who make up the majority of both schools. Had both schools been even plurality white, then merit-based system of admissions surely would have been obliterated by the forces of “woke.”
New York’s elite high schools survived, for now. But other cities are not so fortunate. The liberal denizens of Northern Virginia recently desecrated their local gem, the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, by switching out a merit-based admissions system for one based on diversity quotas—replacing measurable talent with measurable melanin.
From the AP:
A premier public high school in northern Virginia has dramatically increased the number of Black and Hispanic students offered admission under a new application system that some Asian American parents say discriminates against their children.
On Wednesday, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County released demographic data on the 550 students who were offered admission to the school this fall as incoming freshmen. The percentage of Black students increased from 1% last year to 7% this year. Hispanic representation increased from 3% to 11% and white representation increased from 18% to 22%.
Asian American representation decreased from 73% to 54%.
Similarly liberal shenanigans were underway in San Francisco.
Prior to this year, San Francisco’s Lowell School was one of the top high schools in the country, a bright spot within a public school system that otherwise performs pathetically. No more, though. Last spring, Lowell scrapped its selective admissions process for a pure lottery system. It is now just like any other high school in the city. The school is now considered more “diverse,” of course, but it will no longer be excellent—we will leave the implications of this change to the imaginations of our dear readership.
Meanwhile, at the collegiate level, hundreds of colleges reacted to George Floyd’s fentanyl overdose by announcing that the SAT and ACT are now optional for applicants. The obvious purpose of such a change is to allow schools to build their admissions around hitting racial quotas without too obviously cutting standards. In the University of California system, standardized tests aren’t simply optional; thanks to a court order, admissions officers are banned from even considering an applicant’s test scores.
In place of cultivating excellence, America is choosing new priorities, like ethnic factionalism and grievance culture.
From the LA Times:
After more than five years of intense scrutiny and effort, California on Friday became the first state to make ethnic studies a required class for high school graduation to help students understand the past and present struggles and contributions of Black, Asian, Latino, Native/Indigenous Americans and other groups that have experienced racism and marginalization in America.
Ethnic studies will “help expand educational opportunities in schools, teach students about the diverse communities that comprise California and boost academic engagement and attainment for students,” a statement from the governor’s office said.
The signing was lauded by Assemblyman Jose Medina (D-Riverside), who authored the bill.
“The inclusion of ethnic studies in the high school curriculum is long overdue,” Medina said. “Students cannot have a full understanding of the history of our state and nation without the inclusion of the contributions and struggles of Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans. ” He called the approval “one step in the long struggle for equal education for all students.”
Clearly, a nationwide trend is emerging. America is a country that cares less and less about identifying its most talented people and investing in the resources necessary to ensure they can contribute the maximum to society.
It’s very easy, and justifiable, to dismiss America’s current educational apparatus. It’s a system controlled by arrogant intellectual midgets, which produces middling-to-awful outcomes at tremendous cost. America’s education racket has made a handful of colleges enormously wealthy, while leaving entire generations of young people in debt servitude.
But none of this demonstrates that education is useless. Rather, it shows how American education is devolving into the absolute polar opposite of what a good education system should be. A wise national education system would maximize the potential of the gifted, build discipline for the simple-minded, and teach positive values and patriotism for everyone. American schools do the opposite. They teach students to hate America, its history, and its constitution. They serve as a glorified daycare for troublemakers, doing almost nothing to build discipline or skills. And now, they see the most gifted as beings of “privilege” who must be pulled down to dwell with the mediocre.
The consequences of this metastization of the cancer of mediocrity in our body politic will eventually spell disaster.
One can expect America’s public discourse to become even more stupid and debased, our public spaces to become even uglier, our communities to grow ever poorer, our hospitals to swiftly decline in quality of care, and a surge in crime. We’ll see a decline in trust and community cohesion, collapsing bridges, unmanageable traffic, and maybe even airplanes falling out of the sky.
Last February, after winter storms ravaged Texas’s infrastructure, Revolver warned that such crises would become more common in the future?
[I]nfrastructure isn’t just about allocating enough funding. It’s about people. The quality of a country’s broad-based infrastructure is heavily linked to the skills of its common blue-collar workers and local bureaucrats. When these groups are more capable, everything works a little bit better in a country. They cut fewer corners when building new infrastructure, and are more diligent in maintaining it. They work more diligently and efficiently. They are more likely to use the right materials. They avoid preventable errors.
For an example of a completely avoidable infrastructure calamity, look at Flint, Michigan. The city’s famous water crisis occurred when the city switched from Detroit’s water system to drawing water from the Flint River. The river water was perfectly safe to drink, but left untreated it corroded the protective lining of the city’s pipes, eventually allowing lead to leech into the water.
Another red flag for America’s infrastructure future is the Washington, D.C. Metro. The Metro has been known for years as one of the world’s worst, plagued with delays, safety issues, cost overruns, and poor maintenance.
How did the Metro get so horrid? In large part, because of wretched hiring. A 2012 report in The Washington Times revealed that Metro hiring was starkly racialized, with applicants clearly being hired or rejected based on skin color rather than demonstrated job aptitude:
In the same article, Revolver emphasized the long-term problems stemming from America’s heavy importation of low-skill immigrants:
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.
But America isn’t just importing a less-skilled workforce. It is building one right here with every passing day that it props up an education system that doesn’t foster real skills or reward real merit.
But don’t just take our word for it. Look no further than the recent New York Times piece on the slow-motion collapse of the Central Intelligence Agency. The historically-informed know that the CIA has had a spotty record for the entirety of its existence, but in recent years the agency’s capabilities have deteriorated almost beyond belief. The latter-day CIA has become a festival of deadly incompetence.
From the New York Times:
WASHINGTON — Top American counterintelligence officials warned every C.I.A. station and base around the world last week about troubling numbers of informants recruited from other countries to spy for the United States being captured or killed, people familiar with the matter said.
The cable highlighted the struggle the spy agency is having as it works to recruit spies around the world in difficult operating environments. In recent years, adversarial intelligence services in countries such as Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan have been hunting down the C.I.A.’s sources and in some cases turning them into double agents.
Acknowledging that recruiting spies is a high-risk business, the cable raised issues that have plagued the agency in recent years, including poor tradecraft; being too trusting of sources; underestimating foreign intelligence agencies, and moving too quickly to recruit informants while not paying enough attention to potential counterintelligence risks — a problem the cable called placing “mission over security.”
Former officials say there is no shortage of examples of where the agency has been so focused on the mission that security measures were not given proper consideration. And in some cases a turned agent can have deadly consequences.
The 2009 bombing at a C.I.A. base in Khost, Afghanistan, that killed seven agency employees was a good example of mission over security, Mr. London said. In that suicide attack, a Jordanian doctor the C.I.A. thought it had convinced to penetrate Al Qaeda had in fact been turned against the United States.
“We were in such a rush to make such a big score,” Mr. London said. “Those were tradecraft mistakes.”
It turns out that there’s no single screw-up, security breach, or betrayal that brought America’s spy networks crashing down. No, the CIA is simply staffed by dumber, less competent agents, who screw up more often than they used to. The CIA’s lethal shortcomings are simply a result of a failure of human capital.
It’s not exactly a shocker that the CIA’s new breed of intersectional cisgender feminist millennial daughter-of-immigrant generalized-anxiety-disorder-and-impostor-syndrome-having agent isn’t exactly working out.
In a strange way, America’s newer, kinder, gentler, woker, and more liberal approach to excellence represents a twisted, warped revival of the old idea of “American exceptionalism.” America’s progressive leaders believe—or pretend to believe—that they can simply pretend everyone is gifted, ignore genuine excellence, and hand out prizes based on skin color, and somehow America will still just automatically remain a rich, innovative, and successful country.
For a possible alternative way of doing things, Americans can simply look at the path charted by its number-one geopolitical rival.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Inspired by the Soviet Union, [China once] offered minority communities nominal political autonomy alongside preferential policies like extra points on the country’s competitive college-entrance examinations and exemptions from family-planning rules.
[But] recent developments indicate that Mr. Xi and the party are moving more aggressively away from that approach, scholars say.
Mr. Xi is concerned that his goal of completing China’s national rejuvenation by 2049—the centennial of the country’s founding—could be undermined by ethnic conflict, according to officials and government advisers.
Local governments have taken the lead in adopting some policy changes. In March, Guizhou province, where close to 40% of the population are minorities, announced it would gradually stop giving extra points for ethnic minorities in college-entrance exams. Others, such as Liaoning and Fujian, also announced late last year that they would end such affirmative action by 2026.
Which system is more likely to succeed in the long run? Which system will be most effective at finding the most talented children, providing them with a demanding learning environment, and then funneling them to the most demanding, highest-upside professions? Which system will create pro-social graduates eager to contribute to society’s success? Will it be China’s path of objective tests, racial equality, and patriotic education? Or will it be America’s preferred path of identity politics and leveling?
You of course know the answer. And truthfully, so do most of those in power. But America’s decaying ruling class fears genuine excellence. If America became a country that truly rewarded the best and most capable, few of our current elites would maintain their cushy positions. They would instead be destined for the cubicles, reception desks, fast food kitchens, and prison cells where they belong.
And when given the choice between inferior status in a nice country, or superior status in a failing one, the choice of the feeble, the envious, the ugly, and the mediocre is always the same: They would rather be the masters of the pigsty.