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Affirmative Action

 
 
donlasv
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 May, 2003 11:11 pm
Emotional phrases????
Tartarin:

You have a talent for phrase-making. However, I think it gets in the way of logical discourse.
What do you mean by: "Gang of the resentful" ?

I noticed you seem to question AA. Maybe I'm wrong. I would love a reasoned discussion on the issues. Are you planning to reply to my earlier post where I questioned other statements you made?
0 Replies
 
HofT
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 May, 2003 05:22 pm
Is the "equal protection" clause in the Constitution dead and buried?

If not, then white residents of New York and Los Angeles, being minorities, are also entitled to whatever goodies will be dispensed by the Supreme Court <G>
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 May, 2003 05:42 pm
i do believe that the enslavement of blacks and native americans renders them under unusual circumstances and AA should be maintained only long enough to develop a better alternative
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Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 May, 2003 12:17 pm
My phrase "gang of the resentful" generally refers to a middle class which feels its former abundance of influence and power slipping away. It's understandable that the offspring of generations of people who got a better deal would feel bitterness that they are now "more equal" and indeed may have to watch as advantages they once had are given to others -- to redress injustices. But we have no right to pat ourselves on the back because we offer so much "equality of opportunity" when that is still blatant bullshit.

I was a volunteer in an extracurricular program at an inner-city school not so long ago for kids K-6. Much of it depended on family participation and, since many low-income AF-Am and Mexican-American kids had parents whose jobs were not M-F 9-5, and who could not come to the special activities on evenings and weekends because of their often multiple jobs, their participation was minimal or nil. Those kids lost out.

There is an inherent belief that it's not a big problem if some schools are much better (quality and funding) than others. Our school system is based on 19th century white middle-class values. It tries (and fails) to cram newer Americans and descendents of slaves and other cultures into that mold. Mould. Both. Forget about color. We are now a country which has on the one hand increasing and embarrassing distance between rich and poor and on the other is a country in which a minority culture (older and indeed whiter) prevails. Doesn't make sense to me. Does it make sense to you? Either we make insufficient, late, apologetic gestures (like affirmative action) or we get our butts in gear and make this country into the place we keep saying it is.
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snood
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 May, 2003 05:02 pm
Tartarin - You're the sh_t!!!!!!
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 May, 2003 06:37 pm
<Applause for tartarin.>
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JamesMorrison
 
  1  
Reply Sat 10 May, 2003 02:51 pm
It would appear the noble concept of Affirmative action has been perverted from its original meaning and intent.

In March 1961 President Kennedy issued Executive Order (EO) 10925 and its purpose was to eliminate discrimination in hiring practices (specifically by the federal government but as we have seen this was rightfully expanded throughout our society). Every federal contract included the promise that:

Quote:
"The Contractor will not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, creed color, or national origin. The Contractor will take Affirmative Action (my emphasis, JM) to ensure that applicants are employed and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin"


In other words applicants would be judged only on merit. Discrimination based on the aforementioned personable attributes was verboten. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 significantly expanded this scope to any employer or institution receiving federal funds. Those found wanting would lose their federal funding and/or face punishment. The scope of this Act now also included many state institutions due to their participation in federal grants and programs.

So far so good.

A year later President Johnson upped the ante. In a 1965 Howard University commencement address he stated:

Quote:
"You do not take a person who for years has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, "you're free to compete with all the others," and still justly believe that you have been completely fair. Thus it is not enough just to open the gates or opportunity. All our citizens must have the ability to walk through those gates .... We seek not...just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result. "


Sounds good, but how are we to realize this "...equality as a fact and equality as a result..."? As a result of what? Uh Oh! Is this the seed of our malcontent?

A few months later President Johnson issued EO 11246 which essentially parroted Kennedy's but differed by including the phrase " ...and to promote the full realization of equal employment opportunity through a positive, continuing program in each department and agency."

The translation of that phrase was soon forthcoming. Kennedy's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity was abolished and its responsibilities shifted to the Dept. of Labor who, under President Nixon's administration, issued Revised Order No. 4 requiring contractors to develop "...an acceptable affirmative action program," which would include "...an analysis of areas within which the contractor is deficient in the utilization of minority groups and women, and further, goals and timetables to which the contractor's good faith efforts must be directed to correct the deficiencies" Affected employers and federal fund recipients were directed to define "minority groups" as "Negroes, American Indians, Orientals, and Spanish Surnamed Americans." and "underutilization" referred to "having fewer minorities or women in a particular job classification than would reasonably be expected by their availability." "Goals" were not to be "rigid and inflexible quotas" but "targets reasonably attainable by means of applying every good faith effort to make all aspects of the entire affirmative action program work."

Quota, Goal, or Target: Semantics aside, it is clear what has happened.
Here we have some sort of bureaucratic species event in regards to evolving morality with the resultant hopeful monster we now know as "Affirmative Action". Four decades later we are still engaged in the hand wringing caused by this moral mutation and the means used to apply "every good faith effort".
So, an original noble cause selected for by a strong moral force deeming such aforementioned personal criteria as irrelevant has morphed into a policy of preferential treatment mandating that same forbidden criteria to be considered.

Affirmative Action (AA) suffers from the moral corruptions that two wrongs do make a right and that ends do indeed justify the means employed to accomplish them. It then strives mightily, sans nobility, to eliminate the moral degeneracy of racial discrimination by means of..., well, discrimination.

But why are we so concerned and outraged at these unequal treatments? Is it because those entrusted to make these judgments feel guilty for past generational wrongs and feel reparations are in order or do we all feel the moral imperative in that all men should have equal opportunities?

It would be wise to forget the guilt and reparations. As Mr. Dworkin has pointed out in his article, this concept only works on an individual basis and will never restore past opportunities to those individuals. Monetary reparations are unwieldy on two counts. How does one calculate these damages fairly? Even if one manages that trick how can one pay an imaginary worker an imaginary salary for a job that he or she never really accomplished?

So that forces us to seek the ounce of prevention that would accomplish future parity. Existing labor laws, if enforced properly, should discourage discrimination in the workplace. But proponents of AA claim minorities are still at a disadvantage and because of past wrongs need a "leg up".

Unfortunately, this method of "helping" labels those deemed disadvantaged as inferior to all concerned. In addition those actually discriminated against in this process develop deep resentment in regards to a perceived type of perverse reversed social nepotism. This is not the best of social policy. Implicit in these choices is the fact that standards are being lowered or, conversely, those so chosen may be unfairly set up for failure.

This just in, PBS's News Hour just interviewed NYT's executive editor on Friday 5/9/03. The subject was NYT reporter Jayson Blair's fabrication of stories and outright plagiarism as relates to lifted material from the San Antonio Express-News. The NYT is now in the process of checking Mr. Blair's work product for the last four years.
See: http://www.newsday.com/business/printedition/ny-tom3274765may09,0,1370677.story?coll=ny-business-print

In the interview the executive editor of the NYT pointed to the fact that the NYT actively pursues an Affirmative Action plan desired to hire qualified minorities at all levels of the organization (Mr. Blair is of Afro-American persuasion). What did he mean by this? Is the fact he mentioned this significant? Implicit in this seems to be the fact that perhaps a reporter of lesser quality has slipped by (or was not subject to) high NYT's standards. This is a pernicious thought sneaking through. Once this stink is out of the bottle it taints those who are perceived products of AA regardless of personal qualifications to the contrary. What is perceived by some as inferiority may just be laziness... but wait, wasn't that attribute once attributed to the "Black" stereotype also? The point is obvious.

Race is a biological fallacy and exists only in man's institutions. Indeed at one time Florida law said one was "Black" if one showed 1/16 ancestry of blackness, Mississippi chose 1/8, and Alabama, as a gesture of liberality, said any trace of this ancestry would do for blackness. So one could easily change one's "race" by geographic relocation.

The worst of these institutions to participate in perpetuating the ruse of race is the very institution we pilgrimage to when this question arises, the Supreme Court. This judicial bias shows up in some cases in the early 1900's (and earlier) where it tried to decide whether or not immigrants were candidates for citizenship. One main criterion was that one had to be "White". During this period this court decided that a Japanese individual was not White (he literally was) and cited the applicants failure to provide supporting scientific evidence that he was. A few years later an immigrant of East Indian descent was deemed "not white" (his skin was brown) even though he had provided incontrovertible scientific proof (of the time) that East Indians are from Aryan /Caucasian stock (the basis of "whiteness"). Given the court's racial make-up at the time it seemed the definition of "white" would be decided by "white" men, legal or scientific evidence to the contrary. Why was citizenship so important? Back then you had to be a U.S. citizen if you wanted to own property and, according to Section 1 of the 14th Amendment (the "equal protection clause") if you weren't a citizen, property wasn't the only thing that could legally be removed from you.

Regarding the subject of this thread, it is time to take the race question off the admission application. It is time to reward merit and not skin color, ethnicity, or recent immigration status. AA has again morphed and has now spread its wings as "Diversity". There is no need for this masquerade.

As the Dworkin article mentions, whenever we encounter motives to "remedy" past racial wrongs these must be monitored closely. There is a legal term whose Latin term I have forgotten (cestui que ?) but whose English translation is "Who Benefits?" If one applies this question to Universities in their quest for ethnic, social, and economic plurality surely we find their motives are pure and those benefiting from their choices of admission are worthy. The question then seems to be: Are the universities lowering their standards to accomplish this noble goal? But isn't this the university's business? Wouldn't this situation be self-correcting at some point? Perhaps, perhaps not. Why would such institutions allow their standing in the academic community to decline so?

There is one more thing I would like to address and that is the prospect of runaway AA that seems to be a demonstration of what I shall call "slithering discrimination". In the mid 1990's the University of California system had to dismantle their AA system due to the success of a referendum that outlawed racial preferences. Sounds noble enough. But the UC officials made an end run around California voters by giving the SAT II twice the weight of the regular SATs. To explain I cite an excerpt from Charles Krauthammer's 7/13/2001 piece in the Washington Post entitled " Affirmative Action Fails Again ":
As regards the double weighting of the SAT II he informs us that:

Quote:
"Sure, some people might think it odd. After all, when standardized tests such as SATs are denounced for cultural bias, a particular animus is reserved for the SAT II (which tests knowledge in specific subjects such as history, biology and French) on the grounds that it is more culturally influenced than the SAT (which measures general reasoning and linguistic ability). Ah. But the beauty of this odd change is that it gets under qualified Hispanic students into the University of California system. In one predominately Hispanic high school, among the worst in the state, reports the Wall Street Journal, the number of graduates accepted to UC schools increased by more than 50 percent this year. How did they do it? They aced the Spanish language SAT II.
Being fluent in Spanish, they breezed through, often without study or preparation, a test designed to measure second language acquisition. Despite doing dismally on all the other tests, their spectacular scores in SAT II Spanish raised their average enough to get them into the better schools. Presto. An almost foolproof way to give Hispanics a leg up -- and the latest demonstration of the mindlessness and cynicism that has overtaken affirmative action. Perhaps the most perverse effect of the SAT change is that it ignores or, indeed, injures blacks, the group for whom affirmative action was originally designed."


So we see that now blacks, in addition to "whites" are injured (or dare I say "unprotected") by this system, but it gets worse.

As Mr. Krauthammer goes on to comment at:

http://aad.english.ucsb.edu/docs/krauthammer.html

That essentially,

Quote:
"An English-speaking third-generation Mexican American whose grandfather fought in Normandy gets nothing -- in fact, he may even lose his slot at Berkeley to the newly arrived Guatemalan whose slate as a citizen is still blank. Why are we doing this? For the shibboleth of diversity. Diversity at any cost. And the cost is considerable. In order to artificially inflate the number of Hispanics admitted, the new rule places students who are not academically prepared in colleges a notch or two above their ability."


The declaration of race in the admissions process comes from ancient irrationalities and is an outdated procedure overdue for elimination. I suggest we rely on merit as sole criterion. This would cut the Gordian Knot and let the universities keep their high standards. If some group is deemed in some need of assistance academically the university, given it cares, should actively move to raise that group's academic standards by improving their educational background before admission is considered and not conversely lower university standards by such circuitous methods. The university could very well act in concert with those same minority groups clamoring for special treatment. Instead of claiming entitlement, these organizations could devote their resources to actually achieving the goal of providing their perceived charges with a quality pre-university education. Ultimately, it is up to individuals to obtain and earn their education and not to universities to guarantee demographic academic balance. Those so graduating would possess the rightful pride that comes from pursuing such a path and society would be rewarded with productive members possessing this hard earned self-assurance.

JM

P.S. We might do well to examine why and who's responsible for the vast inequity manifest in our educational system. This query is rightly focused on public primary and secondary schools. Specters of teacher performance evaluation, vouchers, and tax increases surely loom on this horizon but what is our goal: Quality education for all or Diversity? If we strive for the former the latter follows. The same is not true for the converse. But that is another thread entirely.
0 Replies
 
Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Sat 10 May, 2003 03:20 pm
JamesMorrison--
Your preceding post... Masterfully stated.

Instead of claiming entitlement, these organizations could devote their resources to actually achieving the goal of providing their perceived charges with a quality pre-university education. Ultimately, it is up to individuals to obtain and earn their education and not to universities to guarantee demographic academic balance. Those so graduating would possess the rightful pride that comes from pursuing such a path and society would be rewarded with productive members possessing this hard earned self-assurance.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fairness, non-discrimination should be the goal. Manipulation to cull favorable results is just more discrimination--and I'm not thinking of discrimination against white students. In the long run, the ones harmed, IMO, are generations of those trained to rely on AA.
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Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Sat 10 May, 2003 03:24 pm
There was a very interesting report in the NYTimes -- probably Thursday-- about a school in the Boston area in which affirmative action on a racial basis was exchanged for an economic basis. Worth looking at.
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JamesMorrison
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 May, 2003 10:21 am
Tartin,

Regarding your post of Sat May 10, 2003 4:24 pm about the school in Boston, do you have a specific link or other reference? This sounds interesting.

Thanks,

JM
0 Replies
 
Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 May, 2003 10:24 am
I'll see if I can find one, James. I've recycled my papers, so it will depend on the NYTimes' search engine!
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Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 May, 2003 10:31 am
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/08/national/08CAMB.html
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JamesMorrison
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 May, 2003 12:27 pm
Hey Tartan,

Thanks for your trouble. Appreciated.

JM
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Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 May, 2003 01:12 pm
Tell me what you think of the story, James, when you have a moment.
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JamesMorrison
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 May, 2003 06:43 pm
Tartan,

Cambridge's school system has its heart in the right place but seems to be backing the wrong horse. It obviously wants to achieve "racial balance" but how does this educate the little kids? There is some benefit that can be ascribed to the aforementioned balance but at this point I think it only allows the child to be able to repeat the mantra:

"I have nothing against poor folk, why even some of my friends are poor!"

This program is troubling because most of it is concerned with some sort of integration, which is accomplished by literally injecting "White" into "Minority" or "Middle Class" into "Poor" educational settings. This seems to miss the point of equality in public school education.

In the article we find that:

"Proponents of economic integration say there is ample evidence that all children learn better at schools where middle-class students are in the majority."

And this from Richard D. Kahlenberg:

"While there are a handful of exceptions, in general high-poverty schools don't work,..."

But why is this? Later in the article we get a glimpse of cause:

"Middle- and upper-middle-income parents tend to be more aggressive about making sure their schools have everything, from top teachers to special arts programs, experts said. "Middle-class parents provide quality control,"

So maybe Economic Integration will work, but Ms. Bokhari, mother of Noah, the featured token middle class kid in the article cited as hope for this experiment intimates:

"Noah would probably return to Fletcher-Maynard (the school singled out in the article) next year. After that, she is not sure. Her oldest son, Essah, a second grader at another public school where, Ms. Bokhari said, he was not sufficiently challenged, would be attending Shady Hill, a high-achieving, $14,000-a-year private school. Noah may eventually follow, she said. "

Sounds like "Middle-Class Flight", but is Ms. Bokhari an economic bigot? No, she just wants the best Education she can afford for her children.

The article also introduces us to Omar Maxwell, Noah's best friend and classmate. We then learn that Omar's Mom:

"Ms. Maxwell said she did not believe her son needed middle-income classmates to succeed. "It all depends on the teachers," she said."

So then, it's not rocket science. (I am not calling Ms. Maxwell's intellect into question here. She is studying to be a nurse, God Bless her. Alas, I cannot say the same for this school system's reasons for this program.)

Then we have this resultant perversion:

"With all its benefits -- classes capped at 17 students, experienced teachers, the district's only full-time art teacher for kindergarten through eighth grade, computers for all fifth graders and above -- Fletcher-Maynard still has 47 vacancies. There is a waiting list of low-income children from the neighborhood. But under the plan the available slots must be held for middle-class families"

So this program, borne of economic equality, has 47 open slots for which poor kids must wait until it fills its target of kids from a wealthier background. Surley Cambridge can do better.

But educator Ms. Harris is hopeful:

"If we had 100 percent children of color and poor, we'd still get the job done," she said. "You set the bar high, and they excel."

I suspect these children need more academic resources applied directly on their own behalf and less of a remedy for social reconstruction that involves a:

"... complicated lottery that takes into account family income, siblings, proximity, and -- as a last resort if a school falls out of racial balance -- race. "

As I declared before, give the younger Americans the equal education promised them and the diversity will take care of itself.

JM
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 May, 2003 08:24 pm
Ummm.. I'm still shell-shocked by this line from the article:

"Cambridge has 15 elementary and middle schools and one high school. While the city spends $17,000 a year on each public-school student, the schools' quality is considered uneven."

They spend what? The top 10 school systems in the state spend an average of just over $5,000 per student per year. The school system my daughter graduated from last May (25 miles from Cambridge) was the #7 system in the state and spends an average of right at $4,700 per student per year. I'd really be interested in knowing what Cambridge is doing with $17,000 a year per student. That HAS to be a typo... Maybe it was supposed to be $7,000...

Beyond that, I think they'll find the same situation in the end that Berkley High School found in the link I provided a few pages back. You can integrate the schools by whatever means you may like but in the end the kids segregate themselves within the school whether it's by race, gender, socio-economic status or any other factor.

On one hand we and our schools teach our kids to note differences and catagorize but then on the other we don't want them to do it. There comes a point where the schools are fighting themselves. How does a kindergarten teacher demonstrate the differences between a red block and a blue circle to their students and then society not expect those very same kids from noticing the skin color, gender, etc of the others in the room with them?

I think the Cambridge School Board's heart is in the right place but I think we need to have a few of these systems do it for several years and look at some long term results before we play "educational experiment" on another generation of kids on a wholesale basis.
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donlasv
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 02:31 am
Dear 'fishin:

You have implicitly identified why AA in the name of diversity is the wrong approach and actually makes things worse. When society -- leaders, politicians, school administrators, etc. -- continually talk about racial differences and then implement programs and policies based on race, then the natural response is to strive for your own race. Race is magnified.

Tell a black child that "whitey" is the cause of his status and he will either give up or hate whites or both. Why would anyone be surprised that he chooses the "black" table at lunch? Surveys over the years of HS students show "fairness" at the top of the list for teachers.

Sure, I'm over-simplfying, but neither of us are responsible for World history or American history. A baby born today should be raised to expect fairness by schools and government. S(he) should get "equal protection under the law".

I know from first-hand experience that my minority classmates could learn and excel along with my white classmates. The HS I attended was one-third black and we did not even think about race. (Well, a bit.) Standards were high, graduation rates were high. I never heard of "favoritism". Something happened over the years to change this.
BTW, this was a "low-income" school.

I taught at a major University and I asked a black student what 10 divided by 2 was. He grabbed for his calculator! I told him never to let his batteries die. He should have been counselled to go to a community college for remedial work in Math. OR he should have been taught this in HS. AND the point is that this advice is race-neutral.
Admitting students with low test-scores and then flunking them or watching them drop-out is no favor.

Enough for now.
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HofT
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 02:45 am
Example of effects of affirmative action is the black reporter fired after 3 years in the NYT for gross plagiarism, misrepresentation, falsifying travel and other expenses, etc. All of you read his name in the news reports - how many reports did you see stating that he's black?
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 07:01 am
HofT - IMO, it's reaching pretty far to say that AA programs were in any way responsible for that reporters misconduct.
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Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 07:12 am
HofT -- I can't believe you posted that.
0 Replies
 
 

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