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Thursday, May 20, 2004

Race Preferences in Education

Edward Blum and Roger Clegg discuss the huge gaps between average SAT scores among white, black, Hispanic and Asian students:

Politicians are less likely to address failures in public education for so long as racial preferences allow them to sweep the problem under the rug. That was the lesson of California's Proposition 209 initiative: K-12 educational reform was much easier after preferences were banned.

These academic and proficiency test gaps are also likely to continue to remain stubbornly wide simply because affirmative action preferences remove much of an individual's incentive for high achievement. After all, as Professor John McWhorter points out, why should an African-American high school student bust a gut studying three extra hours every night to get an A in a difficult course, when he knows a C+ will get him the same offer from a competitive college?

Justice O'Connor thought she was helping academically underachieving blacks and Hispanics gain a rightful place in the leadership of our nation by allowing an applicant's race to be used in university admission, but in fact she may have helped guarantee just the opposite.

As long as African-Americans know they can rely on preferences to help them into school, they won't commit the sweat-equity needed to make them truly excel on their own; as long as politicians can use preferences to paper over the real problems in K-12 education, they won't act.

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