Saturday, December 14, 2019
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This school of victimhood will drag everyone down

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FEW things are more damaging to society than a pernicious idea whose time has come. It has been true, for example, of Marxism, of fascism, of anti-Semitism and of various incarnations of religious fundamentalism. To a large extent, it was true of McCarthyism in 50s America. Today’s destructive idea whose time has arrived for tyrannising and subjecting Western society is, surely, the notion of ‘equality of outcome’ for us all.

This is the mantra for our 21st century model of a socially-engineered society. It bestows instant and unparalleled moral superiority on its adherents. These are found most noticeably amongst our liberal intellectual elite who, in the guise of politicians, educators and media commentators, act as enforcers of the mantra.

Where this is leading struck me forcibly a few days ago on a visit to the United States. An initiative for schools in New York, ‘Courageous Conversations’, requires that the mantra of ‘equality of outcome’ be acted on through the unequal treatment of white and black pupils. Children are no longer to be treated as individuals but as members of a racial group. The assumption is that white kids are all inherently privileged whilst their black classmates are all underprivileged. The guiding principle is that an ‘implicit bias’ against blacks is ingrained in the psyche of whites and must be countered by a mandatory ‘equality of outcome’ programme.

Twenty-three million dollars has already been committed to the project. New York mayor Bill de Blasio stands shoulder-to-shoulder with his city’s educational establishment in promoting the mantra.

Last year a training session for school superintendents focused on the question: ‘What lived experience inspires you as a leader to fight for equity?’ A Jewish superintendent answered the question by describing the horrifying racism experienced by her grandparents in a Nazi concentration camp. ‘This is my core value as an educator,’ she told her fellow educators.

She informed the New York Post what happened next:

‘At the break, I stood up and, to my surprise, I was verbally attacked by a black superintendent in front of my colleagues. She said, “This is not about being Jewish! It’s about black and brown boys of color only. You better check yourself”.’

The Jewish educator said she was traumatised and that it ‘was like 1939 all over again’.

The United States may be a young country but it has much to teach us about what is coming in British schooling. ‘First the USA and then the UK’ is a well-known adage and one we would be unwise to ignore, especially in relation to education. Indeed, positive discrimination, albeit more on social than on racial grounds, is already defining university admissions policy here.

In parts of the the United States the notion of ‘meritocracy’ is already being seen as old-fashioned and so ‘last century’. It turns out that the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibited only one type of segregation in schools. Discrimination that favours ‘victims’ – aka Blacks and Hispanics – is to be applauded and is now being enshrined in law.

Racial minorities deserve better than to be classified as pre-determined ‘victims’. The ‘American dream’ was built on aspiration, self-help and individual enterprise. An American nightmare is now replacing it, based on concepts of dependency, victimhood and addiction to state aid. But only for racial minorities. Sadly, the march towards ‘equality of outcome’ does not extend to the under-privileged white working class.

Britain is heading along the same pathway as the US. It is no coincidence that both countries spend more per head on schooling than most countries and, yet, perform comparatively poorly on the OECD attainment tests for 15-year-olds. ‘Equality of outcome’ is much easier to achieve by dumbing down and impoverishing everyone. And where will that lead us?

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Chris McGovern
Chris McGovernhttp://www.cre.org.uk
Chris McGovern is the Chairman of the Campaign for Real Education. A retired head teacher with 35 years’ teaching experience, Chris is a former advisor to the Policy Unit at 10 Downing Street under two Prime Ministers.

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