Monday, October 15, 2012

Wall Street Journal Reaches New Low in Argument on Affirmative Action and Taking Race Into Account in College Admissions

Minorities Are Just Too Stupid to Benefit

There is little suspense over the upcoming Supreme Court ruling on whether or not colleges can take race and ethnic background into account in determining college admissions.  The current issue is not over quotas, which have been banned long ago, or even preferences, but whether or not a college seeking to obtain diversity in its student body can take diversity into account in its admissions.  The Supreme Court will soon rule that it cannot.

The Saturday Review Section of the Wall Street Journal is usually a wonderful set of interesting articles, but being a publication of the people who own things like Fox Broadcasting the editors try to slip in their own biases.  This week it is an extensive article by two academics who argue that trying to achieve some racial diversity colleges is also injurious to the very minorities they are trying to help.

Their arguments are extensive and disingenuous but they really boil down to this.  Minorities are too stupid to attend the good schools, and so when they are admitted they are overwhelmed and do poorly. 

There is now increasing evidence that students who receive large preferences of any kind—whether based on race, athletic ability, alumni connections or other considerations—experience some clear negative effects: Students end up with poor grades (usually in the bottom fifth of their class), lower graduation rates, extremely high attrition rates from science and engineering majors, substantial self-segregation on campus, lower self-esteem and far greater difficulty passing licensing tests (such as bar exams for lawyers).

The good news, at least in the author’s minds is when these stupid people go to colleges where there are other less intelligent people they do okay.

The most encouraging part of this research is the parallel finding that these same students have dramatically better outcomes if they go to schools where their level of academic preparation is much closer to that of the median student. That is, black and Hispanic students—as well as the smaller numbers of preferentially admitted athletes and children of donors—excel when they avoid the problem of what has come to be called "mismatch."

Yes, it is hard to not to read the arrogance and condescension in these words, because there is arrogance and condescension in the words.  But the authors want to correct things.  For example.

What can be done about the problem of mismatch? Most obviously, we need dramatic improvements in elementary and secondary schools to narrow the racial gaps in academic achievement. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the average black 12th-grader is on a par with the average white eighth-grader. That project will take decades.

Actually it is not true this will take decades, it will take forever as cuts in education to support tax cuts for the wealthy become the norm, and more and more states divert public education funding to supporting private schools.

And the authors dismiss remedial action, that is helping students who struggle when they are admitted to college, regardless of the racial issues or the cause of their problems. 

No the real purpose of this article is to support the Supreme Court in its near certain ruling against taking diversity of the student body into account when making the admissions decision.

Racial-preference reform, in short, can come only from the Supreme Court—which, this past Wednesday, struggled to come to grips with its messy past rulings on the use of racial preferences. In evaluating whether the University of Texas denied equal protection of the laws to Abigail Fisher by taking race into account in admissions, 

And so the article’s theme is that helping minorities correct the abuses of the past not only is detrimental to the majority, it is actually harmful to the people that are the target of the help is set out to pre-empt the reaction against the decision.   These authors and their supporters want the victims of centuries of hate and prejudice and discrimination to be actually grateful when the Court strikes another blow against ending the ugly residual of discrimination that still exists.

Any resemblance to the arguments by racists in the past, and even racists today that minorities were highly served by being “taken care of” by the majority who “knew what was best for the less intelligent folk” is not coincidental.  And the authors ignore the one valid example where giving preferences resulted in a mediocre person rising far beyond where his ability and intelligence could take him.  Yes, we are talking about Clarence Thomas.

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