PROF GIORDANO: Revamp education to stop the cultural rot
For far too long we have allowed the system to fail and anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism, and disdain for Western culture to flourish.
Nicholas Giordano is a professor of Political Science, the host of The P.A.S. Report Podcast, and a fellow at Campus Reform’s Higher Education Fellowship. With 2 decades of teaching experience and over a decade of experience in the emergency management/homeland security arena, Professor Giordano is regularly called on to speak about issues related to government, politics, and international relations.
Over the last few weeks, recent events have lifted the veil on the urgency of the crisis we now face. From the pro-Hamas rallies and attacks on Jewish students to Oregon’s abandonment of basic proficiency standards, our education system has become an abject failure. This includes our Ivy League institutions that are supposed to be producing the best and the brightest.
Our education system, from kindergarten through college, consistently yields undereducated, radicalized individuals rather than the informed and capable citizens our society needs. It is time to reassess and dismantle this failing system. For far too long we have allowed the system to fail and anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism, and disdain for Western culture to flourish. Implementing simple reforms can reshape the educational landscape and produce an educated student body that strengthens our nation.
At both K-12 and higher education levels, we must abolish the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice (DEISJ) agenda. DEISJ is a cancer that discourages merit, lowers standards, and erodes academic excellence under the banner of “equity.” Just look at how public schools have dismantled honors and gifted programs nationwide, including in New York City – the nation’s largest school district.
This toxic ideology wrongly portrays America as inherently racist and oppressive. It promotes tribalism and a victimhood culture while undermining unity and the sense of nationhood. Take, for instance, the experience of Charles Love’s son in kindergarten, where exposure to STEM should have been an opportunity for learning. Instead, he was indoctrinated with narratives of how women and minorities like himself are marginalized victims. Colleges and universities are further embedding this cancer as they codify DEISJ as a degree requirement across all majors.
A recalibration is needed. Curricula must prioritize critical thinking and a strong foundation in each of the core subjects. Students must be instilled with reading and writing skills, a sense of civic duty, and a genuine understanding of history.
Prior to the DEISJ agenda, students learned about slavery, the Trail of Tears, Japanese internment camps, and other American atrocities. In fact, my students know more about these topics than they do about the holocaust or the Constitution. We must teach the totality of the American experience – both the good and the bad – and celebrate our accomplishments, acknowledge past wrongs, and instill the belief in American exceptionalism.
We must also raise expectations and standards. It is embarrassing that America ranks 25th in education in the world. As states like New York and Oregon redefine and/or eliminate proficiency standards, this decline will accelerate. With our public schools producing a lower-quality student body, our global university rankings continue to decline as they lower standards in response to students’ capabilities.
However, it doesn’t need to be this way. Multiple studies affirm the Pygmalion Effect – higher expectations lead to superior outcomes. A study from the University of Virginia and Rutgers University highlights that “teacher expectations were more powerful predictors of postsecondary education status.” When those in charge have little faith in the student body, the solution is not to lower standards. The solution is to fire these officials and replace them with people who set higher expectations.
We must also reconsider education funding at all levels. Institutions like Baltimore City Schools spends over $21,000 per student, yet 40% of Baltimore high schools cannot produce a single student proficient in math. In one high school, a student was routinely cycled through to the next grade despite a .13 GPA. For years, Baltimore City Schools has been plagued by mismanagement, bloated administrative costs, fraud, and wasteful spending to the tune of millions of taxpayer dollars, including anti-racism training for faculty.
This is a clear example of why tax dollars should follow the student. Empowering parents through school choice allows them to seek out alternatives for their child’s education, whether in neighboring districts or private institutions. This can break the cycle of failure and reduce academic achievement gaps.
At the collegiate level, institutions that offer useless degree programs and promote anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism, and anti-western culture, should face funding cuts. This must be done through a review process with clear criteria because tax dollars should be used to enhance the quality of education, not to produce ideological zealots who hate their own country.
For any nation to succeed, education must be based on the pursuit of truth through facts and critical inquiry. We can only achieve this through a revamped system rooted in American principles and values. Students must be equipped with practical skills, critical thinking abilities, and common sense. We must stop the cultural rot and produce individuals that strengthen our nation which can only be done through a revitalized education system.
Editorials and op-eds reflect the opinion of the authors and not necessarily that of Campus Reform or the Leadership Institute.