High School Academic Elitism is a Form of Bigotry

The notion that class culture is the reason for student’s lack of success in American education is wrong and harmful. This concept of blaming economically low class culture for poor performance in education is code for racism. The notion that poverty causes dropping out of high school is racist. The educational establishment of America has allowed these coded excuses for poor student performance for many years. At the high school level, the worst student performance is dropping out of high school. This act of dropping out of high school presages very difficult adult lives.

We know high school dropouts have great difficulty in life after high school. High school dropouts are disproportionately represented in gangs, crime, prostitution, and incarceration. The school system blames parents for not creating a more conducive home culture that supports education. This is an institutional excuse on an enormous scale. Instead of accepting blame for student’s performance, the school system blames parents and their culture.

No matter what the education system says, the schools are the cause of what happens to our youth when they leave high school. If there are poor student outcomes, it is the direct cause of the high school’s actions or more significantly, inactions. Equally important to unrealistically attempting high academic achievement for all students is the omission of the education system of America taking responsibility for preparing their students for their lives after they leave high school. The one really significant specific outcome of the American education system is what happens to our youth when they leave high school. We know 30 percent of the students go on to graduate from college. We know the community colleges have an enormous drop out rate that dwarfs the high school dropout rate.

Perhaps most significantly, we know the highest high school drop out rate occurs in the ninth grade. Thus, there must be real educational intervention in place in the ninth grade to save low achieving high school students. Educational intervention cannot wait until later in high school or the community colleges or kids will fall in the crack into gangs, crime, drugs, prostitution, and incarceration. The essential approach to address this needed educational intervention is to implement high school career academies at scale. We know high school career academies graduate about 95 percent of their students, all with employable skills. We know high proportions of career academy graduates go directly to work. This combination of high school graduation and teaching of employable skills substantially reduces crime and incarceration. At scale, these educational outcomes have the power to structurally change America. Crime rates can become so low that we close prisons.

It is up to the American educational system to stand up to code talk for racism. Simultaneously, they must stand up to their own culture of academic elitism, which is just another form of bigotry. The 70 percent of high school students who will not graduate from college deserve an appropriate education and that is not a college prep education. This supermajority of students deserves an education that prepares them for their adult life. They must not be left on the street to fend for themselves. Racism in any form must be confronted at every turn, and so must the bigotry of academic elitism. The culture in high school education has been to exclusively support high academic achievement. This high academic achievement is not possible for the supermajority of students. No matter what the education system does, the supermajority of students is not going to graduate from college.

The educational establishment pretends that all students can be high academic learners. This concept is an unwritten lie or invention that is accepted by the American educational system. The ivory tower schools of education, state school boards, state school superintendents, local school boards, and local superintendents must stop lying to the public. These educational leaders must standup for the average and low achieving students. These students are people too. In reality, they represent the supermajority of high school students. These educational leaders have been complicit in denying stents an appropriate education and are cowards literally and professionally. Their cowardice in refusing to confront the reality that most students are not high achieving has caused the one million high school students to drop out every year. Their cowardice has caused the despicable reality of high school dropouts, gangs, crime, and incarceration in America. The lack of leadership from these important educational entities and prominent leaders to support high school career academies is a national travesty. The culture of high academic achievement for all must be confronted as the bigotry that it is with the same ferocity that we confront racism.

James C. Wilson, Ed.D.

Dr. Wilson is the author of Disposable Youth: Education or Incarceration? available on Amazon.com

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Dr. Wilson is the author of Disposable Youth: Eucation or Incarceration? on Amazon.com
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