Ken Blackwell

Our lives are filled with measures of achievement. From cleaning our rooms as children and taking a driver's test as teenagers to annual job reviews through the course of a career, there are benchmarks of achievement that follow us through the entirety of our lives. As we grow, these benchmarks become more numerous and the stakes become higher.

Curiously, these benchmarks are being consistently eroded in primary and secondary education, a stage of life when they should be most emphasized. Standard benchmarks in educational achievement are increasingly falling by the wayside and the results are troubling.

George Leef with the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy wrote of this problem at the college level, noting that more college students today expect high grades for simply showing-up in class or completing reading assignments. The New York Times explored the issue as well, quoting college educators bemoaning the fact that too many students are equating effort with quality of work.

The origins of this sense of entitlement to good grades are not difficult to trace. Students preparing for college now often find themselves in classrooms where self esteem is valued more than results. This mindset is perpetuated at the collegiate level as institutions increasingly forsake legitimate measures of scholarly merit in favor of unclear and shifting policies designed to permit social engineering, both in terms of admission to college and assessments of performance within it.

An illustration of this is seen in the relatively small but growing number of colleges that have dropped standardized testing as a requirement for admission in favor of "holistic" admission practices.

Just last month, the University of California Board of Regents voted to eliminate SAT Subject Tests as an admissions requirement, opting instead for a costly "entitled to review" system. The stated reason for dropping the tests: Some students did not know they had to take them, thus creating a "barrier" to admission.

Ken Blackwell

Ken Blackwell, a contributing editor at, is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and the American Civil Rights Union and is on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. He is the co-author of the bestseller The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency, on sale in bookstores everywhere..
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