Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Let educators design curriculum, but not when they’re idiots.

Posted by sanityinjection on March 4, 2010

In the ongoing debates about how to best educate our children, teachers (and their unions) often make the point that no one is better qualified to design curriculum than educators themselves. The argument is designed to resist interference both by government and by activist school committees and parents’ groups. And on paper, it’s a good argument.

The problem is that every now and then you get a group of educators whose minds have been so permanently addled by the corrosive soup of political correctness and identity politics that they swim in every day, that they come up with something so idiotic that it calls the argument of professional expertise into question.

Now if you’re thinking that I might just have a specific example in mind, you’d be right. The latest stupidity comes to us from (surprise) San Francisco, a city which as readers know is already legendary for its tolerance of the outrageous but never ceases to try to push the envelope to further heights of goofiness.

To state it simply: The city’s school board has decided to offer in its high schools a freshman course in ethnic studies which will earn college credit in the state university system. Further, the course is pass/fail, not graded – and unlike any other high school program that earns college credit, is aimed at poor students rather than advanced ones.

There are so many things wrong with this that one almost doesn’t know where to begin. It is beyond obvious that the purpose of this course is not to teach the students anything of value, but rather to boost their ethnic self-esteem and encourage them to set a goal of attending college. (No one would ever admit it, but you can bet that white students will be “discouraged” from taking this class, if not outright prevented.) Said one student: “How can I know who I can be if I don’t know who I am? Ethnic studies provides me with the foundation to learn who I am.” Wrong. Ethnic studies encourage you to base your identity on your ethnicity and see yourself in terms of group identity rather than as an individual. Nothing could be further from American ideals.

Leaving aside the question of whether high schools should even be offering ethnic studies when they can barely teach English and math, the notion of offering college credit for a pass/fail course simply demeans the value of the credits awarded. (Incidentally, nobody actually fails – they just transfer you out of the class. So it’s really “pass/pass”.) Why should anyone aspire to attend college if it is revealed to be a joke? And how can students be expected to succeed in college if this is the sort of preparation they’re receiving?

This nonsense came to the school board from the faculty at San Francisco State University. Like all school boards, they assume that college professors – professors of *education*, no less – must know what they’re doing when it comes to designing curriculum. But at what point does somebody have to put their foot down and insist on some collective common sense being applied to the situation? Of course, in San Francisco, common sense was banished by municipal ordinance a long time ago.

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