Paul’s Perambulations

July 19, 2010

The Roots of White Anxiety (NYTimes 7/18/10

Filed under: Education,Politics — admin @ 2:04 pm

This article helps explain some of my issues with what has become of Affirmative Action. ML King and Bayard Rustin had it right when they said poverty was a “people” problem, not a “black” problem. Expensive tuition is the price wealth pays to maintain its privilege of prestigious private education. Better that this be done by (and for) the people through their government than by a small set of prosperous individuals (of whatever racial background) who finance it and reap the privilege. IF their kids have the ability, they would reap the benefit, but not otherwise. I remember some real dummies at Princeton. Click Comment for some comments I copied from the post.

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  1. (Paul) Certainly this is not an “elite college” issue per se, but a much larger educational issue starting from the ground up. And of course, some impoverished religious whites (but not so many as to explain the findings) wouldn’t be caught dead at Harvard. I have copied below some Comments on this article.

    The “divide” in America now is between the Rich and the vanishing Middle Income People and the poor. Whites, Blacks, Hispanics and some Asians are all now downwardly mobile as “trickle up poverty” has become the norm.

    The reason why fewer students from rural areas are getting into the Ivy League is because fewer students from these areas are going to college as a whole. Fewer of them are taking the SATs. Many rural schools also don’t offer things such as AP courses or test prep courses, further disadvantaging these youth. All these things, while deeply regrettable, are hardly Harvard’s fault. The problem instead begins much earlier, as far back as primary school. When a state chooses to politicize its educational system (like what happened in Texas recently with the curriculum revisions), you can hardly be surprised if educational standards decrease as a whole.

    Take a look, for example, at SAT participation rates by state (i.e, number of eligible high school students in a state who choose to take the SAT). In a state like Alabama, the participation rate is less than 10%. In Massachusetts, it is over 80%.

    Colleges only started caring about “diversity” after the 1978 Bakke decision, when Justice Powell ruled that racial discrimination in college admissions was acceptable provided it was justified on the basis of diversity. The fact is, “diversity,” as it is currently understood, has always been a code word for race based affirmative action.

    When leading right-wing figures continue to demonize “Ivy League elitists,” you can hardly be surprised if young people from Christian or right-wing families don’t want to apply to or attend these schools. The right-wing movement in this country has perpetuated the dangerous idea that being educated, well-traveled, and well-read is an “elite” thing – an undesirable, un-American thing. There’s a fair amount of self-selection at work here. I grew up working class and attended an elite private college, but there were very few people in my community who could comprehend why in the world I would want to go to a Yankee school in the Northeast. The preference was for state schools in the south, or for private liberal arts colleges with a Christian orientation.

    This is why racial consideration for higher education and employment is so inappropriate. A poor white rural male is as unlikely to succeed academically as a poor black urban male. They face the same problems: a dysfunctional home life with a lack of educated role models, an absence of resources to take advantage of educational opportunities, a prevailing sense of hopelessness that leaves them wondering why they should even try. Targeting low income students for special consideration would have the effect of increasing minority enrollment without running into constitutional concerns. And it wouldn’t punish poor white children that are every bit as disadvantaged as the spectrum of other poor children targeted by current race-based measures.

    (Paul) The following NYTimes Comment received little support, but is quite relevant.
    His suggestion to “level the playing field” is the real issue and not a simple one(perhaps illustrated by the writer’s poor command of the English language).

    It is reverse racism, why should someone who is less qualified than I be given scholarships from a university based not on performance, socio-economic background, but on the color of there skin! I would suggest getting rid of affirmative action, level the playing field, and watch where the cards fall.

    Comment by admin — July 19, 2010 @ 2:10 pm

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