Jewish World ReviewJune 8, 1999 /24 Sivan 5759
The other side of affirmative action
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THERE WERE 55 BLACK STUDENTS attending the University of California at Irvine in 1997, before racial preferences and
quotas were outlawed. In 1998 that number rose to 71 and in 1999 to 81. This was a total increase of 47 percent in two
It has been pretty much the same story with American Indian and Mexican-American students. There are now 44
percent more of the former and 67 percent more of the latter at UC Irvine than there were when racial preferences and
These statistics are radically different from the kinds of numbers we have been seeing and hearing about, where the end
of "affirmative action" led to declining minority enrollments at Berkeley and UCLA. Why not at Irvine?
Minority students who did not meet the academic standards at Berkeley and UCLA were not "unqualified." Most were
well qualified to be in college, but somewhere else. The University of California at Irvine was one of those other institutions
where they could be admitted legitimately, without any double standards.
The average white high school graduate would
not succeed at Berkeley or UCLA -- but only the top tier of white students are admitted. It is only minority students who are
likely to be admitted to institutions where they are likely to fail.
Now that these double standards have been outlawed, the
minority students who are no longer being admitted to the big-name universities are going to places like UC Irvine. That is
precisely what critics of racial preferences and quotas have been saying would happen and should happen.
Instead of failing at Berkeley or UCLA, these students have a much better chance of succeeding at Irvine or Cal State
Hayward. Instead of having to take sop courses in order to survive at institutions where the pace is too much for them, they
can take solid courses elsewhere that will prepare them for a worthwhile occupation or give them a solid foundation for
It should take just one graduating class admitted without academic double standards to expose the
fraud of affirmative action. When minority students begin graduating at a higher rate than before and are able to hold their
own academically with their white classmates, it should become clear to any fair-minded person that racial quotas were a bad
mistake and that equal opportunity makes everybody better off.
But those who have been pushing affirmative action all these years do not want their dogmas put to the test and
discredited. The Clinton administration is leaning on colleges and universities to keep putting racial body count ahead of
academic standards. The U. S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights recently sent out a booklet which warns that
"the use of any educational test which has a significant disparate impact on members of any particular race, national origin, or
sex is discriminatory."
In other words, any group that does not score as high as other groups is being discriminated
against. Does this make any sense? Different groups have had different test scores all around the world. With or without test
scores, they have also had different academic performances.
It doesn't matter whether you are comparing Tamils and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka, Chinese and Malays in Malaysia,
Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews in Israel or innumerable other groups in other countries, different test scores and different
academic performances among groups have been the rule, not the exception. Yet, when the same thing happens in the United
States, it is defined as "discrimination."
All of this is politics. If you were serious about helping blacks and other minorities, you would try to get them some
decent education long before they reached the college level. But that would require upsetting the status quo with things like
vouchers. More to the point, it would upset the teachers' union that supplies millions of dollars in campaign contributions to
the Democrats. Politicians find it more expedient to sacrifice the education of another generation of minority students and
offer the symbolism of getting them into the kinds of colleges where their poor preparation almost ensures that most are going
Minority students need a realistic prospect of succeeding at places like the University of California at Irvine until such
time as they get the kind of education that would enable them to succeed at Berkeley and UCLA. If that kind of education
means stepping on the toes of the teachers' union, so be
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©1999, Creators Syndicate