Equality is out and “equity” is in.
The San Diego Unified School District has approved a change to its grading system that coincides with broader ideas of restorative justice and “anti-racism.”
It will do this by no longer letting late assignments and bad behavior in the classroom affect grades. Students also won’t be penalized for not showing up to class at all.
Only “mastery” of a subject, whatever that means, will count for grading purposes. Students will also receive a separate grade for “citizenship.”
This change was made, according to the San Diego Union Tribune, because of data showing that there are disparities between the number of white and minority students who receive “D” and “F” grades. The San Diego Tribune reported:
"District data have shown that Black, Hispanic, Native American and Pacific Islander high school students are significantly more likely to be given D and F grades. Black students received D or F grades 20 percent of the time and Hispanic students received them 23 percent of the time, while White students received them 7 percent of the time and Asian students received them 6 percent of the time, according to data from the first semester of the last school year. The district-wide average for D and F grades was 16 percent."
The San Diego School District’s policy change is consistent with the Obama administration’s push to crack down on racial disparities in school discipline through legal threat.
The Trump administration and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded that policy, but school districts can still choose to follow the policies if they wish.
The San Diego School District concluded that the disparity in its schools must be a product of racism, or at least insufficient “anti-racism.”
“This is part of our honest reckoning as a school district,” San Diego Unified School District Vice President Richard Barrera said to a local San Diego NBC affiliate. “If we’re actually going to be an anti-racist school district, we have to confront practices like this that have gone on for years and years.”
It must be noted that the ideology of anti-racism, popularized by intellectuals like Ibram X. Kendi, is based strongly on critical race theories and other ideas once consigned to the radical fringe of college campuses.
And anti-racism, ironically enough, often looks like plain old racism, as its adherents—like Kendi—openly promote racial discrimination as a means to creating more equity.
Broad trends in behavior leading to unequal outcomes, according to the anti-racists, must inherently be a product of racism. No other explanation is acceptable.
Behavioral problems are not seen as the impediment to success. Instead, it’s the punishments for behavioral problems that are the problem.
While there may be some justification for treating late assignments and misbehavior in classrooms differently than subject grades, one wonders how better outcomes for minority students are ultimately being promoted by this change?
As Virginia Walden Ford, a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation, explained on a Heritage panel in 2018, breakdowns in classroom discipline creates a terrible classroom environment for children who want to learn.
Walden Ford, who was one of the black students chosen to help integrate Arkansas schools in the 1960s and is the subject of the movie “Miss Virginia,” explained how a school program she ran in Arkansas was made worse by the changes to discipline policies.
Students who wanted to learn were made to feel unsafe “because the kids that were creating a lot of the discipline problems” got “a slap on the hand” instead of real punishments.
The result is that misbehaving students kept misbehaving, and other students had a tougher time because classrooms were out of control.
This seems to be a bad way to go about helping students who are struggling in the classroom.
Teaching children that there are no consequences or minimal consequences for not showing up on time or misbehavior will probably have more negative consequences for a person later in life than a bad test score.
Jarrett Stepman is a contributor for The Daily Signal.
Editor's Note: This piece originally appeared on The Daily Signal.