What’s Behind the Decline in National Merit Recognitions?

As recently as 2018, Columbus Academy boasted that “30 percent of students in each graduating class at Columbus Academy earn recognition from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.” That claim is no longer true. The four most recent years have seen the lowest levels of National Merit recognition since at least 2013 (Pro CA was not able to obtain accurate data from prior to 2013). Just 8% of students from the Class of 2021 received recognition as either a semifinalist or finalist.

What’s behind this dramatic decline? Increasingly, classes at Columbus Academy consist of unnuanced, reductionist, and divisive lectures about white privilege and gender identity. Even math classes are reduced to political sermonizing. Moreover, professional development offered to faculty now focuses almost exclusively on extreme leftist political theories, including intersectionality and critical race theory

The “new” Columbus Academy may be successful at creating students who are well-versed in the woke political language of today. But this increased focus on political activism necessarily comes at the expense of rigorous academic study. There are only so many hours in the day and there is only so much space in the hearts and minds our children. When our school prioritizes political activism, what’s left for other, seemingly “less important” topics—math, science, English, and history? The answer is apparently a lot less than in 2013…