Equality Without Tears
One of the dumber controversies afoot is the palaver over policies aiming at “equity versus equality.” The observer might wonder, don’t these mean roughly the same thing? In the MAGA bubble, one is coded as liberal, the other as conservative. To be honest, I forget which one is supposed to be evil. This interview with Virginia governor and failed account manager Glenn Youngkin clarifies that “equality” is the bad one.
I note that the interviewer, Neal Minock of WJLA in Washington, D.C., is making himself notorious on Twitter as Northern Virginia’s answer to the accomplished professional liar Tucker Carlson of Fox “News.” WJLA is owned by Sinclair Broadcasting, a Foxy counterpart to Rupert Murdoch’s propaganda operation.
The Guv equates equality with “equality of result,” the implication being that some policy would hold back the most excellent among us from being all we can be. There are no such policies. What we do observe are efforts to promote equality of opportunity, especially with respect to inequality founded in racism.
It pays to be more specific, so let’s go to ground zero for MAGA outrage – the Virginia public schools, in Fairfax and Loudoun counties. Of course, students come to school with different capacities, which may stem from differing amounts of preparation at home. Efforts to compensate those who arrive less well-prepared have always been under attack. The most common ground of contestation is race.
How could race be a factor holding back a black student? Here is just one way. Lower income classes tend to be disproportionately African-American in composition. They also tend to have more single-parent families. Children cannot choose their parents. Such families have fewer resources, including time if the parent must work more than one job, to help prepare their children for school. Why do I even have to explain this? If you are reading here, chances are you already understand.
At any rate, the extent of such compensation, in the form of extra instructional support, is typically intended to support a minimum standard of result. This has always been the practice in education. For instance, if reading is being taught, the teacher will help the student who struggles. The ones who just sail along don’t require that help. Now if you raise the floor by establishing minimum standards and you do not constrain the best students, the result is more equal. How could that be bad?
By the way, the governor says “We can raise the ceiling and the floor in Virginia,” so he pretends to favor an improvement in results too. He goes on about providing reading and math coaches. What I’d like to know is, what ceiling is he referring to? Doesn’t he contradict himself by suggesting there should be a ceiling?
Elementary statistical reasoning affirms that improvements in equality of opportunity, which means support for the least able, promotes equality of result. So what are we really talking about here? Where is the “maniacal focus on equal outcomes”?
The only example of mania provided by Youngkin in the interview is the bogus scandal around National Merit Scholarship awards for students in area high schools. The racial provocateur Minock raises the issue of spending on consultants who provide advice on diversity-equity-inclusion (‘DEI’) practices in schools.
The real target is any posture aimed at remediation of students for constraints founded in racism. Of course, if you discount any possibility of racism, such policies make no sense. But if you do discount any such possibilities, you’re a fool, and as noted above, you are not among those reading this.
The Republican assault on our public schools is two-pronged. One is ideological, the other stems from a crass monetary motive. The campaign lubricated with dark money aims at sweeping Democrats out of local government, in tune with efforts to increase the right-wing bias in national elections due to Supreme Court interference, gerrymandering, the anti-democratic U.S. Senate, and the elimination of constraints on campaign finance.
The ideological motive is to diminish the public sector across the board. It would wreck the public schools by exposing teachers to harassment from random fanatics and by casting a cloud of ignorant prejudice over the way in which any sort of social studies or humanities course is taught.
The monetary motive, vividly reflected in a proposal from our gun-nutty lieutenant governor, is to divert public funds to private, Christian academies and to home-schooling. Reduced funding means the first target of opportunity is those remediation efforts the governor claims to support.
At its root, roughly speaking, the public sector taxes according to income and wealth and it provides on an equal basis. Some people hate that, even though it resulted in the richest, most powerful nation in the world.
I didn't know this was a MAGA thing; I thought it was a way for bien pensant liberals to dunk on Bernie Sanders