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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Social Promotion in Public Education

As I was reading this post at shadesofgray (hat tip GM Roper), I was reminded of one of the many problems with the public education system in the US.

That problem is social promotion, the practice of advancing students to the next grade even though they are academically unprepared for such a move. One of the main arguments in favor of this plan is that a child could be "emotionally scarred" by being left behind as his friends move forward. Of course there in never any mention of the "emotional scaring" likely to be experienced by a student in high school who is still unable to read, let alone the more tangible effects of lacking the skills to be a productive member of society.

Back in the late 90's early 00's, there was a swing of the pendulum away from this practice towards retention, i.e. failing a student (or the more PC term, holding back). Naturally, there was a big uproar by the supporters of social promotion. There was a flurry of studies stating that retention didn't work and was "emotional scaring" for children.

Groups like the National Association of School Psychologists took positions against retention. The old stand-by was of course pulled out: "retention unfairly targets poor minorities.

Interestingly enough, most of these studies (at least the ones I have seen) also clearly stated (usually in passing) that social promotion does not work either. This didn't stop the screeds against retention though. I believe this is because the social promotion movement is merely part of the much larger movement in our country to completely remove all forms of personal responsibility from those currently burdening under its heavy yoke.

It has been a goal of those on the left to systematically remove the entire concept of personal responsibility from the sphere of existence and replace it instead with victimology. Nothing is your fault and any failures you have must be caused by some unjust system (usually Capitalism) or action working to hold you down. The benefits of accomplishing such a feat would, of course, be a public more malleable to ideas of increased government control.

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Copyright © S Michael Moore 2005