The Vancouver School Board in British Columbia, Canada, is eliminating honors courses as part of a push to foster inclusivity and equity in the classroom.
The board had previously eliminated the high school honors English program, and math and science will now get the ax as well.
"By phasing out these courses, all students will have access to an inclusive model of education, and all students will be able to participate in the curriculum fulsomely," said the school board in a statement, according to the CBC.
This is a spectacularly frank declaration: Education officials don't like that some higher-achieving students are sorted into environments where they are more likely to succeed than their less-gifted peers, and would prefer to keep everyone officially at the same level to the greatest extent possible. The plan closely mirrors California's recent efforts to discourage students who are proficient at math from taking calculus any earlier than their classmates; Canadian educators seem no less excited than their U.S. counterparts about naively pursuing equality of outcome at all costs.
Parents are understandably furious, and several told The Globe and Mail that their children felt affirmed and accepted in their honors courses. For a response, the paper turned to Jennifer Katz, a professor of education at the University of British Columbia, who derided the parents' concerns as "nonsense."
"That's a stereotype," she said. "I don't buy that. That is a part of racism and systemic racism. It's a part of 'I don't want my kids in class with those kids.' And that's nonsense."
Parents who want their kids to take classes that are actually challenging and stimulating—and populated with similarly gifted students—are not racist. They are not perpetuating systemic racism. If anything, the implicit assumption that only kids of a certain race can thrive under such conditions is racist.
Equity is a noble goal, but it should be obvious that taking away resources from smart teenagers in order to make them more similar to their lower-achieving peers is the height of idiocy. It does not inspire great confidence in the public education system that the officials who think this way are in charge of schools in Vancouver, California, and elsewhere.