Rooftop Revelations: Lowering standards for Black teens is 'the last thing we need,' Pastor Brooks says

ROOFTOP REVELATIONS: Day 46 with Pastor Corey Brooks

CHICAGO – Pastor Corey Brooks warned that “the last thing we need” is to lower the standards for struggling teens as schools across the country eliminate honors classes and lower graduation requirements in the name of racial equity.

On day 46 of his 100-day rooftop vigil, Brooks woke up troubled by a story he’d heard coming out of Oak Park, a Chicago suburb.

The pastor was bothered to learn that Oak Park and the River Forest High School Board of Education voted to eliminate college-prep and honors-level classes for incoming freshmen.

On Oct 28, the school board voted unanimously in favor of restructuring freshman courses in history, science, English and world languages into a single curriculum for all students regardless of academic background or performance. The advanced courses were removed, the board said, because the multiclass tracks resulted in “systemic inequities” for students of color.

The change will “interrupt systemic inequities so that students’ academic identities are influenced to reflect their potential,” said Sara Dixon Spivy, the board president.

Brooks, who has dedicated his life to helping kids born into a world plagued with inequities and obstacles, called the move “insane.”

“Their idea of closing the gap is lowering the standard and thus, they say, equaling the playing field,” the pastor said. 

“What you’re really saying is that Black people can’t achieve, that Black people are not smart enough, that there’s no way we can close the gap on our own, so we need your help to lower the standards for us,” he continued. “That’s the last thing we need.”

Oak Park is not alone in lowering curriculum standards and eliminating advanced classes in the name of social justice.

Then-New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he was ending the city’s Gifted and Talented program in October after critics accused the accelerated learning program of racially segregating classrooms and being noninclusive. 

The New York City Department of Education also discouraged honor rolls and class rank in grading guidance sent to its schools, which stated, “recognizing student excellence via honor rolls and class rank can be detrimental to learners who find it more difficult to reach academic success, often for reasons beyond their control.” 

In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown quietly signed a bill in July that removed all proficiency requirements in reading, writing and arithmetic for high school students to graduate. 

Several other cities, including San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C., have made similar changes within their schools.

Working with troubled youth every day on the South Side of Chicago, Pastor Brooks said changes such as these do more harm than good.  

“The last thing we need is for you to lower our standards,” Brooks said. “No, we need to meet the standards we need to achieve like everybody else.”

“So, what do we need to do? Invest in education at early ages,” the pastor said. “I promote school choice because I really do believe that sometimes the public school system is failing our children.”

The key to getting kids to meet higher standards is to hold them equally accountable, Brooks said.

“We need to make sure that we have education that sets the standard for all of us to meet,” he said.

Follow along as Fox News checks in Pastor Corey Brooks each day with a new Rooftop Revelation.

For more information, please visit Project H.O.O.D.

Eli Steele is a documentary filmmaker and writer. His latest film is “What Killed Michael Brown?” Twitter: @Hebro_Steele.

Camera by Terrell Allen.

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