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There was a surge toward “equity, diversity and inclusiveness” in our Ames schools in about 2016. Suddenly the school goals flipped from the rational “equality of opportunity” to the irrational “equality of outcomes”.

Despite the abundance of available evidence that clearly showed their efforts were misdirected, the new Director of Equity and a few activists in the schools decided equity was more important than the students learning how to read.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars were quickly wasted on insulting anti-racism training. Students were indoctrinated with fantastical nonsense like systemic racism, critical race theory, Black Lives Matter curricula, and non-existent systems of oppression.

Predictably, the intended beneficiaries of these efforts quickly became the victims. Shortly after the activists started replacing actual teaching – teaching that would have benefitted all students equally – with irrational and untested efforts to ensure equal outcomes for all, student proficiencies started to tumble. Who would have guessed?

In 2017, 77% of black students tested were proficient in reading. That compared to 96% of white students. Alarmed by this well-known disparity, the activists got busy making it much worse.

One thing research shows clearly is that the vast majority of the racial disparities in academic performance is due to factors that neither the teachers nor the administrators can not control. (See Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb, Dr. John Ogbu, University of California, Berkeley 2003)

For example, the student’s upbringing, the values embodied in the student’s peer group, parental expectations, all play a decisive role in the student’s eventual success at school. So any efforts to close the proficiency gap should have been very carefully examined before their implementation. But social justice warriors rarely consider the impact of their actions. It’s the actions themselves that are important.

And so, not surprisingly, this ill-advised lunge toward equal outcomes interfered with the hard work of actual teaching and learning. Math and reading proficiencies declined every year up to the present. By 2022 white student proficiency levels fell to a disappointing 83% – an unprecedented decline. But black proficiency plummeted to 42%.

The corresponding drop in math proficiency was even worse. While 95% of white students were proficient in 2017, only 78% tested proficient by 2022. Black student rates dropped from 66% to a measly 35%. A needless, self-inflicted wound.

To add a layer of complexity to the reckless actions of the social justice warriors, consider this: While reading and math proficiencies dropped precipitously with the implementation of these woke deflections, graduation rates remained almost unchanged.

I guess one way to achieve the irrational goal of equal outcomes is to hand out diplomas to anyone, regardless of how well they are prepared for those things the high school is supposed to prepare one for. Once again the well-intentioned but unexamined efforts of diversity activists turned those they intended to help into victims of their self-serving battles against imaginary evils. Thanks to them, unprepared students carrying Ames High School diplomas will head out to meet their future with degraded degrees that mean little more than participation ribbons. 

Thankfully the State Legislature stepped in last year to stop this destructive activism. Unfortunately, it appears the Ames school system has decided to simply rebrand their equity efforts to clandestinely continue them. The Director of Equity is gone, but a new Equity Coordinator was promoted. Black Lives Matter is gone, but a more discrete equity training has taken its place. (RULER – Yale University and Danielson) So administrative interference with actual teaching and learning will continue even with the evidence of its damage to the students. If nothing else this gives one an unmistakably clear picture of the dangerously dogged determination of the woke ethos.

It is up to all of us to demand an end to this destructive diversity delusion and get back to what teachers and principals have known from the beginning: kids learn when good, motivated teachers are allowed to teach. Let’s redirect the hundreds of thousands of wasted dollars from equity nonsense back to the classrooms – to teachers and the resources they need to do the work they have been hired to do – prepare our kids for their best futures.

– Joe Monahan


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