September 16, 2019

Hoisted on their own Petard

One can almost feel for the liberal who writes in the Atlantic about how NYC schools have gone to pot... not in the herbal sense.

Neo neo summarizes with trenchant thoughts on the essay, and sums up the hapless author as

a well-meaning liberal who checks all the usual liberal boxes, who wants social justice and diversity and is against what he continually refers to as “meritocracy” (as though that’s a bad thing), but is reluctant to make his child pay the price, and is torn about knowing what’s best for his child’s education.

He starts off with self loathing, and goes ever deeper, by enrolling his own son in a (gasp, clutch pearls): Charter School!

I can see now that a strain of selfishness and vanity in me contaminated the decision. I lived in a cosseted New York of successful professionals. I had no authentic connection—not at work, in friendships, among neighbors—to the shared world of the city’s very different groups that our son was about to enter.

Erm, dude. Many of us call that effective parenting: putting your child's needs and well being above what the local cognoscenti deem is appropriate. Neo then sums up the next few paragraphs, where Packer runs up against the Hard Left's war on meritocracy, in the form of standardized testing:

Although he’s in sympathy with liberal politics, the atmosphere now transitions to, in his words, “the substance and hard edges of a radically egalitarian ideology” which he also refers to as a “new progressivism.” I would describe it as a switch from liberal to left. It initially took the form of voluntary opting out of standardized testing because it was supposedly racist

Packer puts a new, liberal slant on W's classic (my favorite of his) phrase "the soft bigotry of low expectations" -

In the name of equality, disadvantaged kids were likelier to falter and disappear behind a mist of togetherness and self-deception. Banishing tests seemed like a way to let everyone off the hook. This was the price of dismissing meritocracy.

Packer shows moments of intellectual clarity and even, wisdom, noting

Our son was among the 15 or so students who took the tests. A 95 percent opt-out rate was a resounding success [to school adminisitrata]. It rivaled election results in Turkmenistan.

This quote really grabbed me The school didn’t inform parents of this sudden end to an age-old custom [separate bathrooms], as if there were nothing to discuss. Parents only heard about it when children started arriving home desperate to get to the bathroom after holding it in all day. but Neo's summation was one of two leading to the post:

the kids came up with a solution—they simply divided into sexes and used the old bathrooms, same way as before the gender-neutral relabeling.

Here, here - children lead where the adults falter!
This was the other:

In reality the adults are making themselves feel more righteous, indulging another form of narcissistic pride, expiating their guilt, and shifting the load of their own anxious battles onto children who can’t carry the burden, because they lack the intellectual apparatus and political power. Our goal shouldn’t be to tell children what to think. The point is to teach them how to think so they can grow up to find their own answers.

And this was the best, but not the last (read the whole thing for more): Neo notes:

his son asks the following poignant question: “Isn’t school for learning math and science and reading…not for teachers to tell us what to think about society?” Well yes, it used to be, but not any more.

Posted by nanobrewer at September 16, 2019 11:48 PM
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