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Education

Using Diversity to Preserve Mediocrity

It's not just Harvard's admission policies. It's the entire dumbing down of public education.

Arnold Ahlert · Oct. 22, 2018

“In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it.” —George Orwell, 1984

“A Harvard University dean testified that the school has different SAT score standards for prospective students based on factors such as race and sex — but insisted that the practice isn’t discriminatory.” —New York Post, reporting on the lawsuit alleging Harvard University discriminates against Asian Americans

In a nation uncontaminated by identity politics, both of the above statements would be seen as essentially the same. In this one, the “logic” of the American Left demands that a dean at ostensibly one of the foremost citadels of higher education support a race-based admissions policy, one where rank injustice is justified by a single word: diversity.

Thus, Harvard sends recruitment letters to black, Native American, and Hispanic high schoolers with SAT scores around 1100-plus, and Caucasian students from states with low representation at the university with SAT scores of 1310-plus. Asians Americans? To receive the same letter, they not only need higher SAT scores than both other groups, but are further divided by gender: Asian American females need an SAT score of 1350-plus, while males require a score of 1380-plus.

And like many Ivy League schools whose chief attraction has as much to do with elitist social connections as academic rigor, emails indicate Harvard is equally committed to favoring applicants with ties to large donors.

How does Harvard get away with it? “While scores and grades may provide a general measure of cognitive ability and motivation, no universal metric can exactly gauge applicants’ intellect or their value to an institution,” asserts Asian American Harvard alumnus and current UC Berkeley associate professor Robert Rhew. “I would flip the question: Does the racial and ethnic diversity at Harvard enhance the quality of the education there? My answer is a resounding yes.”

Nonsense. If there is no universal metric, then diversity is no more or less likely to enhance the quality of education than anything else.

Nonetheless, Harvard takes a “holistic” approach to admissions that includes “personal ratings.” After analyzing more than 160,000 student records, plaintiffs discovered that Harvard consistently rated Asian American applicants lower than every other race with regard to having “positive” personality traits. They were rated as less likable, less courageous, less kind, and less “widely respected.”

In the real world, such “consistency” is called “prejudice.”

Harvard countered that those reports were incomplete and failed to capture the “nuances” of its admissions process. The university also asserted that weaker recommendations from high-school teachers and guidance counselors may have precipitated the lower personal ratings.

For those with less acumen than Ivy League elites, this is known as grasping at ideologically bankrupt straws.

Moreover, Rhew’s assertions regarding diversity are conspicuously lacking. If it is essential to a good education, why has one critical aspect of it been systematically excluded from the ivory towers of academia? As a study by the National Association of Scholars reveals, 39% of the colleges surveyed did not have a single Republican faculty member. Moreover, among the 8,688 full-time professors with Ph.D.‘s from a sample of 51 of the 60 top-ranked liberal arts colleges, the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is 10 to one.

Again, logic that can’t compete in the arena of ideas “demands” such one-sidedness.

Whatever the outcome, it’s likely that this case will end up before the Supreme Court. And despite plaintiff attorney Adam Mortara’s assertion that “the future of affirmative action in college admissions is not on trial,” it’s impossible to see how the issue can be avoided.

And nothing complicates it more than the reality that Asians are a minority group. In the series of discrimination cases that have ended up before the Court, Caucasians were invariably part of the equation, and thus, the “historical reparations” that engendered the ostensible need for affirmative action afforded the Court leeway to “redress” historical wrongs.

Asian Americans were never part of that legacy. In fact, considering that Japanese Americans were interned by FDR during WWII, a substantial number of Asian Americans also have legitimate grievances regarding historical reparations. Yet because they generally eschew victimization dogma, they remain on the outside looking in when it comes to the racial spoils system.

If SCOTUS can justify favoring one minority group over another — in service to diversity, no less — the notion that the content of one’s character matters more than the color of one’s skin will be tossed on the ash heap of history.

Yet even as this case plays out, no one asks the essential question: Why are such machinations necessary? The answer is as simple as it is damning: Despite decades of leftist promises of reform, there is still a racial achievement gap at the elementary and high-school level — one that has existed for over half a century. And it exists primarily because leftists protect union-controlled, Democrat-supporting failure factories otherwise known as public schools.

Most Americans might be shocked to discover that, a little over a century ago, 99% of U.S. students were literate. And they were literate until the Education Establishment abolished phonics and made children identify sight words.

This dumbing down was no accident. “If professors of education could justify claiming that non-reading is reading, then they could use Whole Word to make children into functional illiterates,” explains columnist Bruce Deitrick Price. “If they could claim that garbled, nearly useless arithmetic is as good as real arithmetic, they could make kids learn Common Core Math. If they could create bogus research to prove that Constructivism is a superior way to teach content, they could make sure everyone knew almost nothing.”

And if everyone knows almost nothing, the “fundamental transformation” of America is more easily attained.

If SCOTUS eliminates discrimination at the college level, the American Left would be forced to confront this contemptible dynamic — and the politics that drive it — where it matters most. “Back in the 1940s, before the vast expansion of the welfare state and the ideology of victimhood used to justify it, there was no such gap on test scores between black schools in Harlem and white, working class schools on New York’s lower east side,” Thomas Sowell explained in 2013.

Today, in New York City’s Success Academies, minority kids far outperform their public-school peers throughout the entire state, proving, as founder Eva Moskowitz explains, there “is something wrong with a system, a monopolistic system that is not allowing kids to succeed.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s response? He cut charter-school accommodations in city buildings from 150 between 2009 and 2013, to just 54 between 2014 and this year. “Why would you play politics with education when the results are clear as day?” asked Bronx Assemblyman Marcos Crespo.

Because nothing threatens the Left’s race-baiting, grievance-mongering, identity-politics, social-justice agenda more than an educated electorate. An educated electorate that would ultimately see diversity for what it truly is:

The opposite of meritocracy.

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