Punishing Hard Work

Heather MacDonald wrote a very good article for the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Higher Ed’s Latest Taboo is Bourgeois Norms.”

The latest taboo it seems are those norms that built our country like hard work, self-discipline, marriage and respect for authority.

Last month, two law professors published an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer calling for a revival of the “cultural script” that so many followed in the 1950s: “Get married before you have children and stay married for their sake.  Get an education which you will need for gainful employment, work hard and avoid idleness and avoid drug abuse and crime.”

The authors see the weakening of these traditional norms as contributing to today’s low rates of workforce participation, lagging educational levels and widespread opioid abuse.

Do we really think we are working and performing at our potential?  How does eliminating “Columbus Day” help anyone?  Are we better by removing symbols of the country’s history?  Remember that in Oklahoma, U.S. History may not even be taught.  Many of Oklahoma’s students can complete their high school requirements in three years.  That is probably why college remediation is so high since they can waste their senior year.

In 2016, 85 percent of Oklahoma students took the ACT Exam.  In 2017, it is predicated that percentage will be 100 percent.

Well, how did your public or private school do on the ACT, which is made up of testing for English, Math, Reading and Science.  Taken all together a composite score is then given.  A sample of Tulsa schools finds the following composite scores:  Holland Hall 27.6; Cascia Hall 26.6; Bishop Kelly 25.2 and Metro Christian 24.8.  For public schools Memorial was 18.4; Will Rogers 18.2; Hale 17.1; Webster 17.1; Central 15.6 and McLain 15.1.  The average composite score for all Oklahoma schools in 2016 was 19.4.

In Tulsa, there still is much work to be done if every child is to achieve success in their life, but this dream will never come about if hard work and achievement is denigrated, and that is exactly what happened in Ms. MacDonald’s article when the professors spoke so highly of virtues and values.

The op-ed triggered and immediate uproar at The University of Pennsylvania where one of the authors teaches.  The Dean of the Law School even wrote his own op-ed suggesting that his colleagues views were “divisive, even noxious.”

Half of Professor Amy Wax’s law faculty signed an open letter denouncing her article and calling on students to immediately report any bias they encounter at Penn Law.

Ms. Wax’s co-author, Larry Alexander teaches at The University of San Diego, a Catholic university.

Everything seemed to be going well until USD’s Law School dean issued a schoolwide memo repudiating Mr. Alexander’s article and pledging new measures to compensate “vulnerable, marginalized students” for the “racial discrimination and cultural subordination” they experience. When do values discriminate?

Ms. MacDonald asked what are university administrators and faculty so afraid of?  The Wax-Alexander op-ed confronted important issues responsibly and with solid grounding in social science research.  Each of these administrative capitulations sends a message to professors not to challenge the reigning ideology.  The result is an ever more monolithic intellectual environment on American campuses, where behavioral analysis of social problems may not even be whispered.  All one has to do is look at where the country is without discussing banned ideas – 95 million Americans who should be working are not, 45 million Americans on food stamps and half the population not paying income taxes.  Is that progress?

Not from where I’m sitting.