Annals Of The Great Stupid; San Francisco Educators Shocked To Discover That Admitting Unqualified Students To A Academically Challenging School Results In Lower Average Grades

This tale is classic Great Stupid, and, as is the well-established the pattern, it arose from the increasingly deluded American Left. It isn’t bias to note this; it is only stating reality. Utopian progressives defund the police, and are shocked when crime rates soar. They eliminate bail, and are stunned when freed crime suspects commit more crimes. They restrict domestic production of oil, and are gobsmacked when gas prices spike. They decriminalize theft of items under $900, and are puzzled that mobs pick retail stores clean. These are just some of the more recent examples. The same cult mocked marriage, fidelity and social strictures that disapproved of promiscuous sex, and now two parent families are disappearing while the majority of African-Americans are born to couples with no commitment to each other. Who could have predicted such developments?

Oh, only anyone who thought objectively about causes and effects for more than five minutes, that’s all. But I digress. San Francisco is the current topic, arguably the beating heart of The Great Stupid.

San Francisco’s Lowell High school was regarded as one of the best public high schools in the nation. Admission to the school was based on a merit-based system, resting on  middle school grades and test scores. In 2020, however, not letting the pandemic crisis go to to waste, the San Francisco Board of Education members voted to base admissions to the school on a lottery for the 2021–22 school year, eliminating merit and achievement as criteria entirely. Diversity! Pleased with themselves, the school board voted in February 2021 to make the  change permanent.

What happened? Oh come on, guess. In May, the San Francisco Chronicle released data showing a dramatic decline in student academic performance among Lowell High’s ninth-grade class, the one with students admitted by lottery rather than because of their academic skills. About 25% of them received a D or F grade in 2021, a 300% increase from the 7.7 percent and 7.9 percent receiving such grades in 2019 and 2020. “I have three times as many students as usual failing—instead of one or two, I have three to six. I have some students who have done no work the whole first grading period,” Mark Wenning, a biology teacher at Lowell told The New Yorker. “I don’t think some of these students would be doing well at any high school, which makes me wonder why they wanted to come to Lowell.”

Huh. Who could have predicted such a development? Wait, did I already write that?

Right on cue and true to his lockstep ideology that rejects reality when it clashes with woke aspirations, Lowell’s principal Joe Ryan Dominguez quickly shifted into “It isn’t what it is ” mode.  The fact that “half of our student body new to in-person instruction at the high school level and absences among students/staff for COVID all explain this dip in performance,” he told the Chronicle. “It is important not to insinuate a cause on such a sensitive topic at the risk of shaming our students and teachers who have worked very hard in a difficult year.” 

Right. Nice try.

(Not really.)

The school board  voted in June of this year to return to merit-based admissions.

Reflecting on this completely predictable fiasco, Reason writes,

The decline in student performance at Lowell High School is a cautionary tale, showing what happens when merit is sacrificed in favor of diversity. Yes, diversity is good. But discarding merit and casting it as “elitist” allows public school leaders to avoid tackling hard questions about why merit-based systems—systems that judge individual achievement, not immutable characteristics—lead to low racial diversity at specialized high schools….Merit-based admission to schools like Lowell High School has been highly successful at providing incredible opportunities to talented students regardless of their families’ resources. While Lowell’s return to merit should be celebrated, we should not soon forget the lessons taught by its decline under a lottery system.

Please. How many such “cautionary tales’ do we need? The lesson here is much broader than public education; it illustrates the irresponsible core of all “do something” policies where “something” consists of rejecting systems, traditions and processes that are the culmination of experience and objective analysis.

14 thoughts on “Annals Of The Great Stupid; San Francisco Educators Shocked To Discover That Admitting Unqualified Students To A Academically Challenging School Results In Lower Average Grades

  1. Au contraire, mon frere.

    Utopian progressives defund the police, and are say crime rates aren’t increasing and say crime is actually decreasing and say anyone who thinks they are is a threat to democracy. They eliminate bail, and are silent when freed crime suspects commit more crimes or, alternatively, blame their behavior on systemic racism. They restrict domestic production of oil, and blame “greedy” oil companies for price gouging and call people who drive gasoline powered cars cretins who should either ride public transit or get an expensive electric car (that uses electricity generated by fossil fuels) or move to some urban Utopia like Park Slope where all the cool kids live. They decriminalize theft of items under $900, and are absolutely stone cold silent when organized professional theft rings and mobs of well-dressed and well phoned and well sneakered victims of systemic racism pick retail stores clean. They are in this for the long haul and are playing the long game. They are intent on destroying civil society.

    • I have been railing against the propaganda on electric cars for some time. For liberal environmentalists, attention should be paid not to the high price of such cars, but the fact, as you stated, that the majority of US electricity is created through the burning of fossil fuels. Coal!!! The big bugaboo, but without it we could not generate enough electricity to run the country. How can an intelligent person not see the cause and effect? Oh yeah, the insane woke liberals — all cant and no intelligence or information.

    • And furthermore, I’ve never read Saul Alinsky, unlike Hillary Clinton, but there must be a rule for radicals that states, essentially, never, ever concede a single solitary thing to the opposition. Never. No matter how stupid it may make you look. Never concede.

  2. P.S. I recall a time when the University of Maryland was forced to admit every student who completed high school in the state. The result totally predictable: at least 50% of first year students were out before the second semester began. Just whom does that serve? What kid needs that kind of immediate failure? And U of MD was blamed, not the terrible public schools, nor an examination of the true impact of this insane brand of inclusiveness.

    • I don’t think Maryland is the only state that has mandated their state schools to admit every in-state high school graduate.

      It always simply shifts the burden of figuring out who should be attending college from the admissions office to the freshman professors. But hey, the school gets to collect a year’s worth of tuition and fees, and the students get to collect a year’s worth of useless student loans for Biden to stick us taxpayer with, so it’s all good, right?

      • Some fifty years ago, this late filtering aspect was well known of U.S. universities at British universities (where, if you were good enough to get in, you were almost certainly able to succeed enough to graduate if you did the work). It was also reckoned that only top U.S. universities (Ivy League?) were trying to teach similar years at similar levels (this making up for schooling defects is also why U.S. universities had brought in the idea of “majors” and “minors”, years earlier), with the first years of most U.S. universities doing what the last years of British secondary schools did and the last years of British undergraduates roughly matching early U.S. post-graduate work. The same work was done, to the same levels, only by different parts of the structure. Things may have changed by now, in each country.

      • I also recall, years ago, working with a transplanted New Yorker, who railed against the fact that NYU had had to install basic reading classes for incoming freshmen. Reading? Really? This is where inclusiveness breaks down completely.

  3. Funny how the administrators of these woke joints never ask themselves, “Why are these kids performing at a not so great level and what can we do about it?” They never get to that. They just fire teachers who dare to make the observation (Georgetown Law Center). These people would burn Isaac Newton at the stake in a New York minute.

    • They do ask those questions but don’t listen to the answers. If public schools are not performing at the levels of private schools then the issues might be something other than the need for more increased funding. I wonder what that can?


  4. What’s really happening at Lowell.

    This, in February 2021, as ABC reported just before the vote to kill merit-based admissions to Lowell High School, from the Vice President of the SF Board of Ed, Gabriela Lopez:

    “This is to me, an exciting opportunity,”

    [W]hen asked if she would like to see Lowell be a part of San Francisco’s general lottery system beyond the school year and into the future, Lopez said, “Yes, and in any future vote, if that comes up, I will vote yes.”

    The article ended with this fact:
    Right now, most of Lowell’s students are Asian American.

    • Maybe the fact that Asian students tend to have Asian parents has something to do with this. Throughout my younger years (<55) almost every Asian business I patronized during after-school hours was equipped with a table occupied with young people buried in school books. Sometimes they would have to leave that table to tend to the cash register, but they returned immediately. I think that the parenting has those kids doing their studies, to the exclusion of other things, and has the kids performing well in school–getting good grades and performing well on tests. I'm willing to wager a small amount that those parents equated a "B" grade as an "F", so the kids brought home only As.

  5. It’s an article off dogma in the US educational profession that there is no such thing as innate ability. Differences in educational outcomes are therefore entirely attributable to things like the investment of resources, instructional techniques, adverse childhood experiences, and other such external factors. They cannot even consider the possibility of inborn differences, especially genetic ones, it would be heresy.

    It reminds me that Lynsenkoism in the Soviet Union was largely the result of the same ideology applied to plants. The idea that some plants were hardier, or faster growing, or gave better yield than others because they were bred from better stock sounded far too much like the way aristocrats justified their hereditary privilege. Therefore it had to be false and was rejected. The idea that plants grown closely together would grow stronger through solidarity was much more in line with communist ideals. Western crop scientists, thankfully, never adopted the Lysenkoist mindset, thus keeping us all from starvation. But that mindset’s cousin still stalks Western thought as concerns human beings.

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