A Swiftian View of Reforms to Combat Racism
I have been following with concern the discussions following Peter Jovanovich’s article on Rye School District reforms to combat systemic racism (“Task Force on Race Takes a Radical Turn, October 23, 2020). I am particularly engaged by the “Equality of Outcome” goal of the task force, where, for instance, academic results can be brought into alignment such that when statistically analyzing a scatter plot of scores we would not be able to discern the race of the students. In our benighted past, we thought effort and personal responsibility made a difference in one’s academic progress. What a relief now to understand the low scorers are victims of systemic racism and cultural bias in the material and the high scorers are beneficiaries of privilege.
Worryingly, several analyses show this still doesn’t fully explain the differences in scores and I believe Rye City School District has an opportunity for national leadership in this area. Revisiting a discarded theory, if we were to posit that hours spent on Homework made a difference in academic results, we could then create Homework Caps that limit the time high scorers can study each night. (With e-learning materials it’s easy to get these reports, and if a contraband market in paper textbooks were to form and high scorers attempted to study beyond the limits of their Caps, we could implement in-home monitoring systems to ensure the offending students are not secretly studying.)
A suite of In-Classroom changes can help reinforce these goals. For instance, each week’s high scorers could be moved to the back of the room and cotton placed in their ears to reduce their comprehension of lecture material. If these methods still result in racially skewed academic results, we can implement a system of Score Taxes, where the better students of the wrong race would have their scores transferred to the recipient students. The IRS has a number of experts we could tap to help implement this in a progressive and fair manner.
One concern with this plan is that some of the students who are capped in their homework time may choose to get an after-school job. The issue here is that they are likely develop life skills such as responsibility, empathy, grit, and perhaps an affinity for small businessowners and working people which might advantage them in future. Most of these results would show up after graduation though, and I think we can safely assume outside the scope of our responsibility.
- Bob Clyatt