Kagan was right on social promotion
Yesterday's curtain-raiser on the Supreme Court nomination hearings that start today for Elena Kagan held an interesting nugget. When she was deputy director for domestic policy under President Clinton, Kagan favored a policy that would prohibit social promotion in schools. This was cited in the story as a case of insensitivity on racial matters. Baloney. Kagan was right.
Social promotion is a well-meaning but flawed policy. The idea is to keep students with their peer group even if their academic achievement doesn't warrant passing to the next grade. Christopher Edley, who worked in the White House with Kagan, is noted in The Post's story for opposing a social promotion ban because research had shown that it would be counterproductive for poor, minority students.
So, stroking the self-esteem of children trumps ensuring that said children are properly educated. What ends up happening is that schools pump out class upon class of ill-prepared students who can neither read nor write at grade level. That is, if they don't drop out first. And they soon learn that world that cares more about their ability to produce than their self-esteem.
I doubt this issue will come up at Kagan's hearings. But if it does, I'll have her back on this one.
| June 28, 2010; 12:22 PM ET
Categories: Capehart | Tags: Jonathan Capehart
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