It has been instructive to me that one of the leading stories on the domestic front recently has been the University of Michigan affirmative action cases pending before the U. S. Supreme Court, the briefs filed on them by the Bush administration, and the related question of racial and ethnic diversity in college admissions as a compelling public interest. Who are we fooling? Almost one-half of minority children don’t complete high school and over one-half of third graders cannot read at grade level. And our primary focus is on diversity in our elite institutions of higher education? Recently, I participated in an education conference in which my friend, Dr. Matt Ladner, presented some interesting statistics on the potential Hispanic college applicant pool in Texas. Starting with approximately 93,000 18-year olds in 1997, 54,000 graduated from high school, 13,000 took a college entrance exam, 5,800 scored over 900 on the SAT, and 2,600 of those were in the top 10% of their graduating class. This tells me that, in order to meet their “diversity” objectives, the top public colleges in Texas (mainly The University of Texas and Texas A&M) are relegated to fighting over the 3% of Hispanic kids who could possibly succeed at that level. Yet I read this week that Texas A&M admissions officials, after announcing the creation of the office of Vice President for Diversity and making ethnic diversity a top priority, are convinced that, without racial preferences in admissions, little can be done to “entice” more black and Hispanic students to the school. Not a word suggesting measures to increase the pool of candidates who are qualified.
Count me as one who is disappointed in the Bush administration’s brief in the Michigan cases. A much stronger stand should have been taken by not only rejecting the particular Michigan racial preference plans, but also in disavowing ethnic diversity as a compelling public interest justifying racial discrimination in admissions (see The God Of Diversity, March 2001). However, the much more compelling issue here is the abject failure of the public schools to produce more qualified candidates, for while only a lucky few will benefit from these misguided “diversity” quotas, large percentages of our minority youth are being condemned to permanent second class status.