CUNY embraces mediocrity in the name of equity


Equity, to paraphrase Kris Kristofferson, is another word for weeding out the idiots. Take the City University of New York.

CUNY, once America’s leading urban public university, disappeared into the equity abyss nearly four decades ago; It was saved after a mighty struggle and restored to a fair measure of its former glory.

Now it’s going downhill at an ever-increasing pace – apparently in the name of equalizing outcomes – and no one notices, let alone cares.

The university’s latest dedication to mediocrity came in mid-January, when Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez dramatically announced that college-level academic work would no longer be required to earn graduation credit at CUNY’s seven community colleges.

How long it will take to transfer that policy to the institution’s 11 senior colleges is anyone’s guess; Entropy being what it is, however, it will happen soon — if it hasn’t already.

Here is a summary of the sad facts.

CUNY’s student body is drawn heavily from the New York City public-school system. Back in the day, when city schools more or less functioned, CUNY freshmen were more or less prepared for college-level studies.

CUNY’s seven community colleges no longer require college-level academic work to earn graduation credit.
Christopher Sadowski

That began to change as Gotham’s public schools slowly fell victim to cultural change, a greedy teachers union, and deep political neglect.

Social progress became the norm, and CUNY classrooms began to fill with ill-prepared students. Back then, anyone could walk through the door and take a seat regardless of ability.

The results were predictable: enormous racial political turmoil and a sharp decline in the university’s already deteriorating academic standards – and reputation.

Then, in the late 90s, a brave group of Rudy Giuliani, George Pataki, the late Herman Badillo, former CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein and others collaborated on reforms meant to ensure that freshmen from receiving degree credit Earlier were doing college level work.

The doors were still open, but those ineligible were sent to mandatory, non-credit remedial classes to prepare for the main event. And colleges really went about the business of educating college students.

Aside from charter schools, this could be the most significant victory for quality public education in New York in decades.

Math, Engineering and Science Academy Charter High School
CUNY’s student body is drawn from the New York City public-school system.
Stephen Yang

And it was this restoration that Rodriguez casually “improved” out of existence last month.

“Replacing the antiquated remedial approach with a more effective, equitable and evidence-based system is an important step forward in our ongoing mission to provide educational opportunities to our students,” he announced.

“A large majority of students assigned to remedial courses were low-income students of color,” he added, “who were prevented from taking credit-bearing courses and progressing toward their degrees.”

Were students barred from credit-bearing courses because of color? This is deadly nonsense.

They couldn’t get the job done, and—except for individual efforts—the structural blame goes to the $31-billion-a-year shipwreck now masquerading as a public-school system in New York City.

Manhattan Charter School
Ineligible students were sent to mandatory, non-credit remedial classes to prepare for the main event.
Jesse Rice

(These days, kids don’t even need to attend school to graduate, let alone pass the exam, and many don’t.)

Race is playing its usual role here – as a refuge for the scoundrels. Rodriguez needs to explain how giving college credit for learning skills helps anyone — especially “students of color.”

But doing so will expose his fraud for what it is, so don’t hold your breath.

Still, one day his children are going to enter the workplace – largely unprepared – and while the “equity” fraud is making dubious progress there too, many of them are in for a rude shock. is

Yes, the chancellor is playing an embarrassingly ugly game here, but there’s likely to be more to it than run-ins: recruiting more marginalized kids means a 9% post-pandemic drop in enrollments for financial institutions. More tuition and grant income for an underserved institution. Follow the money, as they say.

Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez
Dr. Felix also Matos Rodriguez became Chancellor of the City University of New York in 2019.
Paul Martinka

Still, while Rodriguez’s allegation is genuine, he’s just the latest in a long line of “educators” from what was once a world-class K-16 public-education collaboration.

In the late 1990s, then-state education commissioner Richard Mills began scaling back New York’s gold-standard Regents-exam accountability system. Today, Albany is ready to call it quits altogether: the decline has been real, persistent — and perhaps terminal.

And at every step of the way, this slow-motion disruption has been justified as, at least tentatively, necessary to fit in “students of color.”

That is, if you can’t teach them, blame them.

It’s a pathetic, patronizing approach to public education — and yet Rodriguez is proud of what he’s done.

For shame.


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