The philosophical and cultural changes occurring across the West manifest themselves in a number of ways. These include obvious examples that most people are already aware of, such as a push for more gender and racial diversity in corporate, political and academic spheres. As well more fundamental ones such as equality of outcome, cultural relativism and political correctness.
But, there are other changes and ideas most people are unaware of. One such idea is that our societal reward and recognition system of meritocracy in education and employment is fundamentally racist in nature.
For those unfamiliar with the term, meritocracy means that those who hold power are selected for those positions according to individual merit, i.e. skills, experience and qualifications. Now, this may seem like something everyone would support, even those who lack many of the skills and experiences necessary to successfully navigate through our society. But, unfortunately that’s certainly not the case.
Fortunately, meritocracy is still a fundamentally important idea in Australia and our public schools but, the same now can’t be said for San Diego in the US state of California which has recently decided it’s public schools are going to overhaul their grading system (a fundamentally traditional and meritocratic one) in order to achieve ‘anti-Racism’.
Under this new system students won’t be penalized for failing to complete assignments but will instead be given extra opportunities to prove their understanding or ‘mastery’ of the subjects. The new grading system will not completely remove letter grades but these will not be based on the completion of homework, tests and quizzes as has traditionally been the case but will instead be used to determine a students mastery of a particular subject. Interestingly, class attendance will also no longer be used to help determine a student’s grade.
The reasoning behind these changes is to achieve what’s been called ‘anti-racism’ which, as far as I can tell, appears to be a particular framework through which people view the world. This framework is fundamentally linked to critical race theory and essentially posits that statistical disparities within racial groups in certain areas are almost always as a result of systemic racism. It’s not enough to just not be racist, one must be actively ‘anti-racist’ in the way they talk and act.
This kind of view is what gave justification to the changes I mentioned above. San Diego’s Unified School District released data which showed that 7 per cent of White students received an F as opposed to 23 per cent of Native American students, 23 per cent of Hispanic students and 20 per cent of Black students. Basically, the reason for the existence of these disparities has to be systemic racism as the traditional model must obviously favour White students. And the only way to rectify these disparities is by upending the traditional model.
It’s quite alarming to consider that this very basic analysis was performed on a group of students that found statistical disparities in their grades and instead of following a more epistemological method which informed the bureaucrats’ decision to completely change the way things are done.
It’s possible, although unlikely, that systemic racism is responsible for these differences, but at the very least a more watertight analysis should be performed before completely changing a time-tested grading system. And, the potential damage that could be done through the inability of schools to narrow down areas requiring more attention and identify students who are struggling could be significant.
Basically, the reasoning behind why the traditional merit-based system is being transformed in certain places is because it assumes that the merits of those within the system should be looked at equally, regardless of race or sex. But, the framework I mentioned above posits that a system that sees people as fundamentally equal is one that will not achieve true ‘anti-racism’ and even ‘anti-sexism’. They argue that more needs to be done to push back against structural inequities as basic equality can’t be achieved because the Western system is one that fundamentally favours white citizens.
Fortunately, these kinds of fundamental changes have yet to manifest themselves in Australia but, that’s not to suggest that the same framework through which the ‘woke’ view the world are not present here or that those kinds of changes won’t occur.