“The meritocracy is under siege -are we merely reproducing privilege or is there something to salvage in the system we have now?” So questioned Thomas Edsall in an opinion piece in the New York Times on June 12.
The considerations are intriguing given the demanding forces of capitalism and globalism, which search for, attracts, and winnows wheat from chaff. The latter are those who fail to make the grade; the left behind losers in societies that place a high premium on succeeding through winning.
In education and workplace, that means fellowship, partnership, sponsorship, and mentorship throughout the years. Yet, in education, the opt-out movement urges parents “to withdraw their children from some or all standardized testing which tracks student and teacher performance.” Additionally, the Hechinger Report stresses that parents are skeptical “of the importance and usefulness of standardized tests.” This is the high watermark everywhere of tradition, vision, and ambition. Be it through the portals of SAT, LSAT, or MSAT, among others widely recognized.
These carve out a clear part to the best institutions, the best careers, the best rewards. Separates meritocracy from mediocrity. Drives from the complacency of the middle of the pack to the singularity of the top of the heap.
At the pinnacle: an identity of first among equals. Those equals are neither academic slouches nor company baggage nor social underachievers.
According to Edsall, it is a “brutal caste system”: and the reality of the working, earning, competing world is that “the demands in the private sector…meritocratic competition are intense and testing is flourishing.”
This is the yardstick that aces all the well-meaning philosophies and passions, while compelling them to fade before the immovable determinants that cementone’s place in the world. For those aspiring to the higher tiers, they had better measure up. Or it is the limitations of the also rans; they could have been(s); the success stories that just weren’t…
Separately, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of business psychology at University College London and Columbia University wrote in the Harvard Business Review that most “organizations…rely on assessment tools such as aptitude and personality tests for external hiring.
“That figure is expected to climb to 88 percent over the next few years. The more senior the role, the more likely the employer is to use assessments to identify candidates with the right traits and abilities.” The article noted that, “The use of psychometric testing is now extensive, and competitive business pressures will effectively compel businesses into more testing.”
On the other hand, there is reasonable thinking that “meritocracy concentrates advantage and sustains toxic inequalities.” In its March 2018 issue, Freddie DeBoer who works in the Office of Academic Assessment at Brooklyn College, makes a series of significant points in “The Progressive case for the SAT.”
DeBoer argued, “Students who labour under racial and economic disadvantage have very few ways to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack.” And that, “A stellar SAT score is potentially one of the most powerful. We should take care not to rob them of that tool in a misguided push for equality.”
Obviously, meritocracy has two distinct sides, among others clamoring for recognition. The controversies are far from finished; but incontestably academic merit largely sets the stage for life’s progress or pain.
In Guyana, there is continuing contentiousness over meritocracy controversially missing in action, oftentimes glaringly and indefensibly so. Far too frequently for social tranquility, there is only the politically meritocratic and racially meritocratic.
Contingent upon time and era, meritocracy boils down to not who is best on the record, but who meets criteria that blend political and racial priorities and visions.
Sensitive jobs, crucial sectors, demanding scholarship, and high-performing deliverers all have succumbed to political caprices that wound standards and country. Average begets the average. This society stands as a poster child for the disintegration that comes when the meritocratic is departed from and the less-than-outstanding is found embraceable.
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