Race Relations: Unintended Consequences


Much progress has been made in race relations in the last generation.  And,, I suspect, more progress will YET be made as my children have children.

It’s the nature of human nature.  We adjust, albeit slowly, to injustice and build a more noble character.

But sometimes the simple and slow march of time isn’t satisfying enough.  We find that we must do more.  And do it now.

So, well, so we do.  And we sometimes find that what we get isn’t what we want.

Consider college.

Having  college degree is a massive indicator of earnings potential in life.  It unlocks doors and allows a degree of freedom within society that is to be yearned for.

As such, many people have taken to the goal of increasing the minority populations on college campuses.    And, to a large degree, they have been successful:

…U.S. colleges have grown more racially diverse in recent years…

Between 1997 and 2007, total minority enrollment on U.S. campuses grew 52 percent to 5.4 million, while the number of white students grew 12 percent, to 10.8 million. Minorities accounted for 30 percent of the college student population, up from 25 percent.

It’s working.  We’re getting more and more minorities into schools of higher education.

However, the sobering fact remains:

…minority students – especially Hispanics – still lag behind on key measures of academic progress, a new report says.

While folks have been successful in raising the attendance of minority students, those minority students aren’t performing as well.  And this creates a problem:

“Equality in education for all Americans remains a somewhat elusive goal that we must strive to reach,” said ACE president Molly Corbett Broad.

I, for one, find no mystery in this achievement disparity.  And the answer is simple:

The minority students we find on college campuses aren’t as smart:

The box students checked off on the racial question on their application was thus shown to have an extraordinary effect on a student’s chances of gaining admission to the highly competitive private schools in the NSCE database. To have the same chances of gaining admission as a black student with an SAT score of 1100, an Hispanic student otherwise equally matched in background characteristics would have to have a 1230, a white student a 1410, and an Asian student a 1550.

In our goal to raise the population of minority students on campus, we are lowering the qualifications of minority students to GET on campus.

A white student has to score better than 28% higher than a black student to get accepted to school.

An Asian student?  Higher than 40%.

We should Molly Corbett Broad be surprised when a group of college students who score 1100 or 1230 on their SATs achieve at a lower rate than a group of students who scored 1410 or 1550?

She shouldn’t.

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