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A Cruel Delusion on “Equalized Achievement”

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The New York Times recently reported good news on the education performance gap between black and white children—a gap that’s narrowed by 50 percent over the last 30 years. But the distance between privileged kids and disadvantaged children of all races has only gotten wider: offspring of college graduates are seven times more likely to earn college degrees themselves, than are the children of high school drop-outs.

Professor Jane Waldfogel of Columbia University says the problem begins before kindergarten. “If we could equalize achievement from zero to 14, that would go a long way to closing the college enrollment gap,” she says. But this is an absurd idea: even in the same classroom, there is never “equalized achievement.” Heredity is a major factor: children of parents who struggle with poverty will generally have less native ability than offspring of driven high-achievers. But even siblings growing up in the same family don’t perform identically or equally, so expecting “equalized achievement” is a cruel delusion.

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  1. Jeff  •  Oct 7, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    Why is it that all educators think that all kids have to attend college? We need trained tradesmen as well plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and truck drivers. None of these require college. Yet our educational system is geared toward every kid going to college. I run circles around college grads in my job and I got my education through military service. College is not for everyone.

    • Andy  •  Oct 7, 2015 at 3:26 pm

      Jeff – I agree with you in principle, but, unfortunately, the new reality is that college is becoming more and more of a necessity for those who want a good job. Those days where you could still get a good job with only a high school diploma are gone. The saying “college is the new high school” is too true these days (See “Why Boys Fail” by Richard Whitmire). With four young sons of my own and skyrocketing costs of college, I’m hating this fact more and more. And to add insult to injury, universities are petri dishes for the leftist worldview. I’m finding solace in the fact that, at this point, some sort of educational commitment (2-year, apprentice, trade school, military, etc.) beyond high school can suffice in certain fields. However, a 4-year degree seems to open up many more doors. Because of these reasons, college seems more and more like a necessary evil.

      • Sela  •  Oct 9, 2015 at 3:44 pm

        Agree with both Jeff and Andy on this subject. My twin daughters are the first in both mine and my husbands family to go to college and they are both at elite universities here in CA. But just as ‘college is the new high school’, what I’m hearing from them is graduate school is the new college. The fact that everyone is expected to go to college is upping the ante and now to get the great jobs, a person needs a masters degree to be seen as set apart. Where will it end? #lifetimestudent

  2. Chris  •  Apr 6, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    We have developed such a childish black-and-white view of society. Due to the mass media venue that most of us now depend on instead of face to face conversation, everything is whittled down to "Yes" or "No", with the media leading all the discussion. Jeff is absolutely correct, but Andy has to turn Jeff's comments into a debate over "principle". What "principle" is Andy even alluding to? What "principle" is being violated if someone doesn't go to college? The actual "principle" in this discussion is people being able to choose their life's work and pursue that goal without being judged wanting if it doesn't involve college. If anything, a person's choice of employment should be judged by whether that work will provide the income necessary to support that individual's choice of lifestyle. I am sick to death of this "college is the new highschool" BS. College is the new highschool because public schools have FAILED. An employer can't count on a highschool graduate having certain base skills (math, reading, writing) because so many highschool graduates are passed on without them. Colleges also want everyone to think that a bachelor's or master's degree is the ticket to a wonderful life. Sure they are-for the colleges and universities. How else will they be able to keep raising the costs of a college education without deluding young people into this belief? This isn't sour grapes-I have a college degree. And I've known many graduates at all three levels who do not credit college with their success-they credit their own discipline, family support, hard work and willingness to jump through the damn hoops this society demands. Want to go to college? Fine. But don't believe the hype. People who succeed with high degrees in most instances come from backgrounds with plenty of support, including financial support. But its the support structure in a family's life that is the best marker for future success, not college. Too many families are without even a father in the picture, let alone a strong support network. Quite yammering about college-changing the public schools would make a bigger difference. But that won't happen, will it? Give some thought about why that is the case!

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