G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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Teach for America’s Ursa Scherer wrote an article because she and some white academics were holding a panel discussion on education and media, and a young black student raised his hand to ask the question of what the definition of ‘achievement gap’ is and the author of the article realized that she’d forgotten to check her white privilege at the door. And so she gives us the straight-and-narrow on the progressive playbook as it pertains to education and race and the redefining of words to fit progressive ends:
Since that evening years ago, my virtual silence on the subject has been largely a product of feeling like I didn’t have a great alternative to propose. “Opportunity gap” is appearing more frequently—you may have seen Arne Duncan tweeting about it. I think that’s closer to being accurate.
In any case, Dr. Royal is correct: Words count. Whether we use “achievement gap,” “opportunity gap,” or something else altogether, let us choose our words wisely, and with heart, and continue to engage each other with respect.
Joel Kotkin’s essay on the “clerisy” seems relevant.
The clerisy shares a kind of mission which Bell described as the rational “ordering of mass society.” Like the bishops and parish priests of the feudal past, or the public intellectuals, university dons and Anglican worthies of early 19th century Britain, today’s clerisy attempts to impart on the masses today’s distinctly secular “truths,” on issues ranging from the nature of justice, race and gender to the environment. Academics, for example, increasingly regulate speech along politically correct lines, and indoctrinate the young while the media shape their perceptions of reality.
Most distinctive about the clerisy is their unanimity of views. On campus today, there is broad agreement on a host of issues from gay marriage, affirmative action and what are perceived as “women’s” issues to an almost religious environmentalism that is contemptuous toward traditional industry and anything that smacks of traditional middle class suburban values. These views have shaped many of the perceptions of the current millennial generation, whose conversion to the clerical orthodoxy has caught most traditional conservatives utterly flat-footed.
This clerisy, of which Scherer, Arne Duncan, and Barack Obama are a part, define the terms and force the agenda. An opportunity gap is such a subjective term that it loses all meaning whereas an achievement gap is an objectively measurable outcome. The clericy operates in the shadows of the subjective, and time is on their side. *Eventually* their programs will get funded, and they’ll coerce money from their competitors – the traditional elites, the capitalists.
This is all reminiscent of Mencius Moldbug’s treatment on “the Cathedral” which, as anyone whose read this series of essays knows, is just mind-blowing:
And the left is the party of the educational organs, at whose head is the press and universities. This is our 20th-century version of the established church. Here at UR, we sometimes call it the Cathedral – although it is essential to note that, unlike an ordinary organization, it has no central administrator. No, this will not make it easier to deal with.