Cuomo Warns Colleges ‘Dumbing Down’ America With Lower Grading Standards

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After a rocky start to his new show the previous evening, NewsNation’s new primetime host Chris Cuomo made some sense Tuesday night on his eponymous show as he warned about the “dumbing down of America” via colleges lowering academic standards to appease failing students. He even called out The New York Times for failing to take issue with a popular professor being sacrificed by New York University to appeal to the 23 percent of his students who signed a petition against him.

“We got to get together to stop the dumbing down of America,” Cuomo declared near the top of his show. He was highlighting the case of now-former Professor Maitland Jones Jr. and how he was fired for essentially having standards for his organic chemistry (an important class for pre-med and other science students).

Cuomo essentially called out the Times for how they poorly covered and framed the story to their readers:

There was a New York Times piece today that is all kinds are wrong. Starts with the headline. Okay. “[At N.Y.U, Students Were Failing Organic Chemistry.] Who is to blame?” Like it’s a gotcha.

First, the piece doesn’t come close to answering that question. But that’s not even the big deal. The piece ignores the real issue: why are we lowering our standards of achievement in this country?

First, it’s a culture problem. The New York Times isn’t worried that there was no due process afforded to the professor in this.

After noting that only 23 percent of Jones’s students had signed the petition that got him fired, Cuomo pointed out how “the Times is just okay with it. They just ignore that whole aspect of this.”

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“In a study of 35 developed countries. Pew Research showed U.S. students ranked 30th in math and 19th in science. Come on, man! We’ve got every advantage here. We are the greatest country in the world unless we don’t endeavor to be great,” he implored viewers while noting how important passing that class is.

He then warned: “We got to push ourselves to be our best. We cannot make it easier for ourselves to pretend we’re doing well when we’re not, because the rest of the world is not doing that. We’re dumbing ourselves down.”

“[I]f you let these kids change the standard of what their grading is, what are you really teaching them?” he posed to the watchers.

Sharing how it relates to his personal life, Cuomo recalled having conversations with his daughter about how to meet the challenges of college and how blaming the teacher wasn’t one of them:

I have a kid in college. She goes to a great school. It’s hard and she’s been talking to me about how much work there is. We talked about different strategies for her, different ways to study, different set of expectations for herself. You know what we never discussed? That it was the teacher’s fault.

Here at NewsBusters, we like to pride ourselves on being able to call balls and strikes. So far in his first week, Cuomo is one and one with three more at-bats this week. Let’s see how they go.

The transcript is below, click “expand” to read:

NewsNation’s Cuomo
October 4, 2022
8:03:14 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS CUOMO: We got to get together to stop the dumbing down of America. All right? There was a New York Times piece today that is all kinds are wrong. Starts with the headline. Okay. “[At N.Y.U, Students Were Failing Organic Chemistry.] Who is to blame?” Like it’s a gotcha.

First, the piece doesn’t come close to answering that question. But that’s not even the big deal. The piece ignores the real issue: why are we lowering our standards of achievement in this country?

First, it’s a culture problem. The New York Times isn’t worried that there was no due process afforded to the professor in this. It’s organic chem. This is what happens. The university cancels his contract. Okay? The stated reason: “he did not rise to the standards we require from our teaching faculty.”

How would they know? According to the piece, there was no real review that included the professor just notice of complaints by students on a petition that they circulated when they didn’t like their grades. 82 out of 350. Simple math gives us 23 percent of the class. 23 percent of kids who didn’t like their grades got this guy fired? Talk about a crowdsourced consequence that doesn’t make any sense.

And the Times is just okay with it. They just ignore that whole aspect of this.

Now, it would be one thing if the professor were bad, ok, all right. And nobody needs that is big time. These kids want to go on. They want to be scientists and doctors. You’ve got to have people who are in the top of the game. And clearly that’s what the school want you to think this is about. But there’s a side mention the piece doesn’t get a lot of attention, but it means everything. Okay?

This guy was at Princeton and then at NYU. He was given multiple teaching awards, including “coolest professor” at the school that dismissed him. So, I guess he isn’t a bad teacher. So then, what’s it about?

Often when something doesn’t make sense? That’s because it’s about something different than it appears. And this is exactly that case. It’s about the dumbing down of standards. This is everyone gets a trophy taken to an exponential level. If it’s hard, make it easier. Can’t get a good grade? Make the grading easier.

And this is an English lit. This is organic chemistry. Okay? If you want to be a doctor or a scientist? You need to master this. That’s why it’s hard. And it’s always been a course that separates those who do and don’t have the right stuff.

Here’s the proof of by proposition: look where we are in stem. That’s the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Also known as all the fields that are dominating the new economy. Okay?

In a study of 35 developed countries. Pew Research showed U.S. Students ranked 30th in math and 19th in science. Come on, man! We’ve got every advantage here. We are the greatest country in the world unless we don’t endeavor to be great.

And while the number of US jobs in stem are growing – which it must, they’re the ones that the economy demands – only 11 percent of Americans have that degree. All right? These are the fields are going to dominate the new economy.

We got to push ourselves to be our best. We cannot make it easier for ourselves to pretend we’re doing well when we’re not, because the rest of the world is not doing that. We’re dumbing ourselves down.

Now. I have a kid in college. She goes to a great school. It’s hard and she’s been talking to me about how much work there is. We talked about different strategies for her, different ways to study, different set of expectations for herself. You know what we never discussed? That it was the teachers fault. Okay?

We’ve got to teach our kids to be responsible for themselves to work as hard as they can and not find excuses in the absence of results. It’s called life. All you control is your effort, not the outcome. And if you let these kids change the standard of what their grading is, what are you really teaching them?

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