Saturday, June 18, 2011

Excellence Squandered for "Social Justice"

By David Paulin. American Thinker, June 17, 2011: President Obama wants America's universities to graduate 10,000 more engineers annually than they're now turning out. He wants more college students to major in math and science. But as universities embrace affirmative action and "diversity" programs supported by Obama and liberals, problems arise. These programs at bottom are aimed at creating a liberal vision of "social justice" -- yet they ultimately dumb down education as merit and excellence are sacrificed for liberal social engineering. In the end, they undermine the very "competitive edge" that Obama says America must maintain.

Consider what's happened at the top-ranked University of Texas, Austin, under an ad hoc affirmative action program called the "top 10 percent rule." It was adopted in 1997 by the state legislature after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the state's affirmative action policy at state universities. Yet the rule has dumbed down higher education in Texas, even as universities in other states look to it has a model that allows them to create "diversity" while avoiding reverse discrimination lawsuits.

The original premise of the "top percent rule" was straightforward: Graduating seniors in the top 10 percent of their high school classes were granted automatic admission to the state school of their choice.
Among some perverse outcomes: Students with top grades and high SAT scores (mostly whites) have had their applications rejected by the flagship University of Texas in Austin, yet less qualified students (mostly Hispanics and blacks) have gained admission to that popular and top-ranked school.

This has happened because Hispanics and blacks at poorly performing inner-city high schools are now put on equal footing with whites and Asians at high-performing suburban schools. Grades, SAT scores, and extracurricular activities -- all are less important than class rank under the rule [SNIP]