NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 17, 2005

Cheri Pierson Yecke, in her latest book, "The War Against Excellence," startles readers who are unaware of how explicitly many middle schools set out to homogenize children and use the classroom to remedy society's imagined ills. Yecke, a former United States Department of Education Commissioner for Minnesota, says that over the last 20 years, middle schools have been infested with an alarmingly anti-academic, egalitarian mindset.

Yecke says middle schools have been infiltrated by five beliefs embraced by liberal education theorists:

  • Belief in the overriding value of students achieving equal educational outcomes.
  • Belief in questioning the value of individualism.
  • Belief in the supremacy of the group over the individual.
  • Belief that advanced students have a duty to help others at the expense of their own needs.
  • Belief that competition is negative and must be eliminated.

University of Florida Prof. Paul George, one of the educational liberals, opines that middle schools should become the focus of societal experimentation, the vehicle for movement toward increasing justice and equality in the society as a whole. "Schools," he writes, "are not about taking each child as far as he or she can go. They're about redistributing the wealth of the future."

Yecke says it is evident the educational reformers who want to remake our schools as a prelude to remaking society would rather have the brightest children held back from their natural learning pace in school so there will be less inequality among adults in the future.

The author is concerned about the spread of the egalitarian vision of school, observing how it has been absorbed into the curriculum of many college education programs. Yecke is not optimistic about a quick reversal back to school cultures where academic achievement is emphasized; the egalitarian mindset is too widespread.

Source: George C. Leef, "The War Against Excellence," Michigan Education Report, April 11, 2005, Mackinac Center for Public Policy; based upon: Cheri Pierson Yecke, "The War Against Excellence," Preager Publishers, October 30, 2003.


Browse more articles on Education Issues