The current practice of colleges, universities, and professional schools to lower student standards cannot end well — either for the students or the public.
And even professional organizations are trying to reduce standards.
The most recent example occurred last week when New York University fired Maitland Jones Jr. because students complained that his chemistry class was too tough.
Who said chemistry was supposed to be easy?
When COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in the spring, 82 of his 350 students — including pre-med students — signed a petition complaining that their grades were too low.
"We are very concerned about our scores, and find that they are not an accurate reflection of the time and effort put into this class," the petition said.
Or maybe the low grades are a reflection of the students. Maybe chemistry isn’t their thing. Maybe they should reconsider their aspiration to become a physician.
Jones, 82, taught at NYU under contract after having retired from Princeton University as a professor, where he wrote the 1,300-page textbook "Organic Chemistry."
NYU claimed its decision was based upon more than the petition.
A school spokesman cited a high dropout rate and poor student course evaluations that were “by far the worst, not only among members of the chemistry department but among all the university’s undergraduate science courses."
But Jones countered "In the last two years, [test scores] fell off a cliff," in the post-pandemic world.
"They weren’t coming to class, that’s for sure, because I can count the house," he added. "They weren’t watching the videos, and they weren’t able to answer the questions."
Demands that educators give special allowances — whether for the pandemic or any other reason — is becoming a disturbing trend in America.
Two years ago a UCLA professor came under fire for refusing to grade black students more leniently in the wake of George Floyd's death.
Gordon Klein, a professor at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, received the request from a student in an email.
"Thanks for your suggestion in your email below that I give black students special treatment," he wrote back. "No, it’s not going to happen."
Klein told a local TV station that he also brought up MLK.
"I quoted Martin Luther King [Jr.] and my belief in a colorblind society. I admonished the student, perhaps somewhat emphatically and said he was disparaging his Black classmates, that wasn't appropriate," he said.
After the student passed Klein’s email among friends, one posted it to social media and the professor soon received threats and hate mail. Eventually a petition to have him removed was circulated.
After nearly 40 years teaching at UCLA, Klein found himself in trouble. The University released a statement on Twitter that said, in part:
"It is deeply disturbing to learn of this email, which we are investigating. We apologize to the student who received it and to all those who have been as upset and offended by it as we are ourselves."
Klein was suspended, then later reinstated, but learned he was still under investigation.
This week he called today’s students a "coddled generation" that believes is entitled to good grades.
Organizations that we rely on to maintain high professional standards aren’t helping.
The American Bar Association announced earlier this year that it will no longer recommend that law schools require scores on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) as a factor for admissions.
Now there are calls to abolish the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
Both the LSAT and MCAT are grueling, standardized exams, that make no allowances for race, income, or family situation. They also don’t care if a great-great-great grandparent was a slave or if a professor gave the student extra credit for penmanship.
They just want to know what you know, and whether you have what it takes to succeed as a doctor or lawyer — and that’s what scares woke society.
Justice Clarence Thomas, Dr. Ben Carson, George Washington Carver, and Frederick Douglass were all raised under less-than-ideal circumstances, yet each rose to the pinnacle of their fields.
The purpose of education is to teach — not to assure that everyone graduates with good grades.
Everyone, regardless of color, sex, faith, or ethnicity should have an equal opportunity to follow their dreams, but:
- That doesn’t mean we want someone who can’t pass a biology exam to take care of our healthcare needs
- It doesn’t mean we want someone lacking in math skills to design our bridges
- It doesn’t mean we want someone who can’t think logically or put three words together to make a complete sentence to represent us in court
Lowering standards hurts everyone in society.
If "a trophy for everyone" has no place in sports, it certainly has no place in academia.
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to Newsmax. He is also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter. Read Michael Dorstewitz's Reports — More Here.
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