NYU’s firing of professor after students complained class was too hard angers parents

New York University’s decision to fire a chemistry professor after his students circulated a petition complaining about their poor test scores has really aggravated parents like Elicia Brand, the founder of Army of Parents.

“The firing of Professor Maitland Jones Jr. is indicative of the problem our nation is facing with many academic institutions catering to and churning out idealistic young adults who are under-educated, easily offended and entitled, and who will do little as productive members of our society as a result,” Brand said to Fox News.

“When paying for an education at a reputable university, we should expect quality professors to intellectually challenge our students, helping them to grow by pushing them to stretch beyond what is convenient and comfortable. Doing anything less, will not result in positive outcome.”

“Instead, universities and K-12 government schools are supporting the notion that a good work ethic and high expectations are racist, lowering standards of educations to account for this popular ideology. Don’t be surprised when we have a generation of adults dependent on the government and America’s productivity and value drops on the world’s stage,” Brand added.

“Instead of firing professors like Maitland Jones Jr., we should be hiring more like him in order to stave off the soft bigotry of low expectations that is infecting academia today and pushing our students to reach their fullest potential. Let us never forget that today’s student will be tomorrow’s decision maker, impacting all of our lives.”

As previously reported, NYU professor Maitland Jones, Jr., 84, was recently sacked after students complained about their poor test scores.

“We are very concerned about our scores, and find that they are not an accurate reflection of the time and effort put into this class. We urge you to realize that a class with such a high percentage of withdrawals and low grades has failed to make students’ learning and well-being a priority and reflects poorly on the chemistry department as well as the institution as a whole,” the students wrote in a petition.

NYU has, for its part, defended its termination of Jones, who previously taught at Princeton and wrote a respected book on organic chemistry, on the grounds that his teaching style had somehow not been effective.

“What this was about [was] NYU’s expectations for high quality, effective teaching. This professor was hired to teach this particular course, and wasn’t successful – that’s the sum of it. NYU has lots of hard courses and lots of tough graders among the faculty – they don’t end up with outcomes that raise questions about the quality and effectiveness of their teaching, as this class did,” NYU President Andrew D. Hamilton said in a statement.

“Surely, among the many things a university should stand up for – including academic freedom, academic rigor, and a robust research enterprise – one of them should be good teaching. Good teaching shouldn’t be pitted against rigor as an excuse for poor teaching; good teaching and rigor are perfectly compatible, and the latter is not a threat to the former at NYU.”

But parents disagree with this mindset and accuse the university of cutting standards instead of demanding students work harder and perform better.

“Because the stakes are so high and not all students are equipped to become doctors sometimes you have to make ‘cuts.’ Instead of lowering standards we should be raising them as well as our expectations. Shouldn’t an objective of education be to help each student reach his or her potential?” Ashley Jacobs of Parents Unite said to Fox News.

“To do this would require teaching students they should expect more from themselves and not blame others when things are too hard. Maybe we should also have a conversation about the role of professors in higher education. The sage on the stage model seems to have been replaced by one that is supposed to entertain its customers in exchange for favorable reviews.”

The problem, according to Cornell Law School professor William Jacobson, is that schools now care more about being so-called “equitable” than they do about churning out skilled, hard-working professionals.

“We are witnessing a collapse in merit standards throughout academia, with movements to eliminate the SATs and LSATs from admissions together with the sort of lowering of academic standards that took place with the NYU chemistry course. This collapse may be partially blamed on the pandemic switch to remote learning, but the fundamental problem is much deeper,” Jacobson said to FoxNews.

“In the name of ‘equity’ we are demonizing achievement, and taking an ‘everybody gets a trophy’ attitude even in STEM. A campus culture that focuses on the feelings of students is becoming incapable of holding to standards. The implications for the future of the country are serious, as we are or will be graduating students who elsewhere in the world would flunk out. It’s becoming a national security concern.”

So-called “equity” calls for equal outcomes instead of equal opportunities. The focus on “equity” has led to the widespread implementation of policies that critics say are detrimental to student growth and development.

These include a “no-zero” grading policy that “bans teachers from giving students grades below 50% even if a student did not turn in an assignment,” according to FoxNews.

These also include policies that excuse tardiness and other bad behavior, that eliminate tests altogether, and that critics say are exacerbating the “dumbing down of America.”

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Vivek Saxena

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