Commencement speeches should welcome differing views
In May 2013, ex-President Bill Clinton gave the commencement address at Howard University. There were no protests by faculty or students, even though he had admitted that his failure to take action in the war in Rwanda had cost at least 300,000 African lives.
In May 2013, Dr. Ben Carson decided against giving the commencement address at Johns Hopkins medical school following protests by faculty and students. He had previously stated that traditional marriage was a “fundamental pillar of society,” which neither gays, believers in bestiality nor members of the man/boy/love association could redefine.
In May 2014, Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state and national security adviser to President Bush, decided against giving the commencement address at Rutgers University following protests from faculty and staff who believed she bore some responsibility for the Iraq War.
Both Dr. Carson and Secretary Rice are used to being attacked for their opinions. Each withdrew from making a commencement address in the belief that to do otherwise would place attention more on them than upon the graduates. This, they thought, would be wrong.
Diversity, we are told, is a bedrock value in our culture. Governments at all levels employ affirmative action to achieve this value.
While government dictates the use of racial preferences to achieve diversity in college admissions, some faculty and staff are allowed by the silence of the general public and the college community, to dictate which opinions are acceptable at graduation exercises.
Political correctness, conformity of thought, has won out in our colleges and universities, the exact place where debate and discussion over differing points of view should be nonstop.
Common Core tests not fair to lower-level students
I am glad Gov. Cuomo has finally come out of his educational closet and spoke out against the Common Core, but more specifically against the rigorous testing that is occurring under Common Core.
Testing of our young people in today’s schools is at an all-time high, and it has and continues to scar many students. But for some lower level students, this is nothing new.
Certain students (identified special education students included) do not have the cognitive, reading and writing abilities to comprehend examinations, whether they are formative or summative assessments.
I think it is sadly ironic that we are engulfed in an education system that talks so much about accountability, individualism, best practice, differentiated instruction and student-centered learning, yet evaluates children with learning difficulties with a test that they can’t even understand as a result of lower functioning. Does it make sense to evaluate students with tests they can’t understand? It’s basically like giving a child a test in a different language. If students don’t find success, then they simply don’t get a diploma or one of value.
Now I don’t mean to offend anyone by making this next point, but does the state require students who struggle with obesity to pass a physical fitness test to graduate? Do they require students with autism to pass a communication test to graduate? How about a student with a developmental disability to pass a daily living-skills test to graduate? What about a person with a physical disability? Are they required to pass a physical fitness test to graduate? No, No, No, No.
So why then are students who have learning disabilities or challenges required to pass tests that they can’t understand? This has been going on for years, both in and out of special education. Why has no one made a fuss about it before? Now that everyone’s child is affected, it’s a big deal? What about those kids who were affected by over-testing before there even was a Common Core? Are they not worth the breath it takes to advocate for them?
For the students, by the students, and of the students,
Carlo Wincenty Clemenzi
The writer is a teacher.