Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

July 17, 2013

Race preferences rumble on

(Continued)

All this dishonesty might be understandable if it served some larger good. It doesn’t. Race preferences ensure that students are accepted into schools where they will have trouble competing. This is the “mismatch” of Sander and Taylor’s title, and does no one any favors.

“Large racial preferences backfire,” Sander and Taylor write, “against many and, perhaps, most recipients, to the point that they learn less and are likely to be less self-confident than had they gone to less competitive but still quite good schools.” They note that “even though blacks are more likely to enter college than are whites with similar backgrounds, they will usually get much lower grades, rank toward the bottom of the class, and far more often drop out.”

When racial preferences were ended in California by referendum in 1996, disaster was supposed to ensue. The New York Times reports that enrollment of blacks and Hispanics in the University of California system dipped slightly from 4 percent and 15 percent; now the numbers are 4 percent and 25 percent. The state university has begun to reach down into middle schools to find promising students — minority and nonminority alike — and work to ensure that they are better-prepared. This is affirmative action worthy of the name, based on improving students rather than checking a box.

It has begun to dawn on liberals that preferences are a clumsy and ineffectual social tool. In a New York Times column titled “The Liberals Against Affirmative Action,” David Leonhardt notes research showing that preferences don’t really help the poor. “In effect,” he writes, “poor and middle-income students are rejected, while others with the same scores and grades — legacies, athletes and minorities, often from privileged backgrounds — are admitted.”

Still, racial preferences rumble on, immune to logic or law.

(c) 2013 by King Features Syndicate

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