What Hath Liberalism Wrought, Part 3

Thousands of students who failed the California High School Exit Exam over the past decade may finally be able to graduate under a bill now awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature.

Source: Senate sends high school exit exam suspension to Jerry Brown | The Sacramento Bee

Ten years ago California instituted the California High School Exit Examination in a futile attempt to improve the sorry academic performance of California high school students. It is administered in the sophomore year, and students were required to pass it – if necessary, after multiple attempts over succeeding years – to receive a high school diploma. The test is not difficult; the English section tests for 10th grade skills, while the math section tests for 8th grade skills, with passing grades being 60 and 55%, respectively. In short, if you have an opposable thumb, you’re looking good to pass, which about three-quarters of students did on their first attempt.

Of course, no story of liberal policies is complete until we get to the train wreck part. Test results exhibited a demographic distribution that will come as a surprise to precisely no one (except perhaps those who failed, to whom most things in life probably come as a surprise), nor does the inevitable liberal reaction, which ignored the sage teachings of William of Ockham:

The test has highlighted educational disparities by race, disability, income, and whether English is spoken in the home. This has been politically embarrassing for school districts, who were previously able to ignore their failures.

Liberals  thrashed about mightily to try to find a work-around (e.g., evaluating a portfolio of class work – please) that will at least reduce the “disparities” to a less embarrassing level, but to no avail.

But wait, it gets better. The state canceled this year’s test, because shut up.

With a contract for a provider recently expired, lawmakers had already planned to suspend the exit exam for the next three years to come up with a replacement more aligned with new Common Core curriculum standards.

The contract with the test provider expired? Hmmm. How did that happen? The cancellation blocked about 5000 students from graduating, although as seniors they’d already had two years in which to pass the damned thing, so clearly they posed little threat to the valedictorians at their schools.

In response to this screw up, Jerry Brown signed legislation waiving the exit exam requirement. But then, at Jerry Brown’s request, the state Senate decided to go for the whole burrito, as it were, and passed legislation waiving the requirement retroactively back to 2003-2004, i.e., back to the first year of the exam, thereby vitiating the entire point of the program. He asked for this because shut up again.

“Students who have been accepted into college should not be prevented from starting class this fall because of a test cancellation they could not control,” Deborah Hoffman, Brown’s deputy press secretary, said Monday. “The governor will sign this bill to ensure these students begin their college careers.”

Let me see if I understand correctly. Students who, after repeated efforts, could not demonstrate minimal 10th grade English skills, and/or 8th grade math skills are going to college? And not just any colleges, either:

The University of California and the California State University later announced that they would not deny entry to admitted students affected by the exam cancellation.

Students who couldn’t master high school material are being accepted into the University of California, the premier institution of higher learning in the state?? Tell the physics department to brace for an influx of new students.

This is a classic liberal maneuver: debasing the currency, either literally or figuratively. For a while, people will continue to hold UC graduates in some regard. After being burned a few times, employers in particular will adopt a “caveat emptor” approach. A person given the accoutrements of achievement is not equivalent to a person who has actually achieved something, any more than, as we found in the subprime mortgage fiasco, giving someone the trappings of middle class life makes him middle class.

Liberals can pretend all they like, but once again, reality bats last.

8 comments to “What Hath Liberalism Wrought, Part 3”
  1. The soft bigotry of low expectations. What a disservice we do by dumbing down education. As you say, we devalue it, but we also convince those who truly are not meant for college that the golden ring is now within their grasps.

    Two generations ago these people would have become plumbers and electricians and ditch diggers and car mechanics and janitors and a host of honorable trades in which they could succeed.

    Now? They are told that they are special, and when the immovable reality of the market stops them from getting that Silicon Valley job…..what are we to tell them? Well, Hillary will forgive their loans, but that still leaves them unemployable.

  2. Duh…They could’ve just cheated to make the scores better like the (now convicted) teachers and principles in the Atlanta school district did.

  3. I sometimes wonder if the intention of the Leftists – not the liberals, who have duck feathers for brains – is to create a cadre of disaffected types (“But I have a college degree!”) as fertile soil for agitation.

  4. Sometimes I wonder why we even bother with “education” nowadays. With the increasing use of personal electronic devices, I have long felt we’d soon have a generation able to communicate only via symbols, random words chosen by spell-checkers, reposted cat videos and “likes.”

    My nephew received a “progressive” education (in, where else, California) and is now, in his 40s, a functional illiterate. He can sometimes speak in complete sentences, but can’t really write one. Nor can he spell. He can play the drums, though.

    Victory, as a famous tyrant once said, will go to “the stronger Eastern power.” He meant Russia, but nowadays I’m betting on China. Today’s California yoots, if called upon to defend what’s left of our country, will be too damn dumb to even pour the piss out of a boot. Even if the directions for same are printed on the sole.

    Oh, and CBD: those who are smart enough — or inherit enough loot — to buy McDonald’s franchises will have plenty of jobs for California high school grads. Well, with the 15-buck minimum wage, maybe not….

  5. I have a related thought whenever some liberal piously intones that we need programs to help some kids “reach their full potential,” viz., maybe they’ve already reached their full potential.

  6. This is the inevitable result of tests with high cognitive loading. The new common core tests will do no better, you only have to look at New York’s experiences to see that. People with high IQs wrote tests that only other people with high IQs can pass. The “rote” questions that average (and even below-average) kids could do, and which helped them pass the older tests, have been largely removed from the tests. To the extent that one believes the research that IQ and race are correlated, the passing rates *must* therefore be correlated with race.

    So of course, since good liberals KNOW everybody’s really the same, they will have to either create some sort of race-based curves so you can have high passing percentages across the board, lower the passing score so much that everybody passes, or else just waive the requirement that the test be passed.

    The blog Too Many Spiders did a spectacular take-down of the NY common core test passing rates by race, I checked the numbers myself because I could hardly believe it. I encourage anybody interested to look for the post there in your favorite search engine. These common core tests are a debacle of epic proportions.

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