Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Exploiting by "Affirming"

In his recent Washington Post op-ed,
"Affirmative Exploitation"
, Ruben Navarrette Jr. picks up where Civil Rights Commissioner Kirsanow left off in his column about affirmative action. Just a couple of excerpts:

"To the degree that there are failures and shortcomings in K-12 public education, racial preferences at the college level help to conceal them."

"Were minority students suddenly to vanish from college and university campuses, and the campuses return to being all white--as liberals warn would happen without preferences--Americans might start asking tough questions about the quality of elementary and secondary schooling in this country, especially for minorities. They might even ask whether teachers and administrators--the vast majority of whom are white--have the same level of expectations for black and Latino students as they do for white students, or whether guidance counselors are "tracking" minority students away from college-prep and Advanced Placement courses and toward vocational studies and other less-challenging curriculums."

In short, among its many deficiencies, affirmative action at the collegiate level postpones the day when public schools have to get their act together and teach their children, all their children, well.

Discussions - 1 Comment

While I agree with the observation that collegiate affirmative action helps to in part disguise the unequal conditions of K-12 schools, I feel that the ending was weak in saying "schools must get their act together".

I am a deeply conservative public school teacher, and I suggest that it is not so much that the schools are failing the children, as that contemporary society has failed both the children and the schools. On the one hand, educrats are produced in wildly Marxist ivory towers, and dictate the weird fads. (People seem to blame teachers, but that’s like blaming the hapless PFC for the conduct of the war!) On the other hand, contemporary culture has with disheartening reliability produced at least three successive generations of broken families, confusion about entitlements and self-determination, ignorance of civic responsibility, a dismal domesticity in which the humans sit in fat-assed thralldom while the square-eyed monster reigns, flickering its message of intellectual passivity -- lost parents produce lost children. It is the schools’ job to effect knowledge transfer, citizenship and rudimentary civility. It is not in our competence to remediate the effects of ignorance, poverty, emotional distress etc. except by adding to the student’s store of knowledge. Children come to us hugely "at risk". And even they are sandwiched between the new "full inclusion" mandate (disturbed and handicapped students back in the regular classroom, without an aide, mostly) and (I’m in California) the growing population of (mostly illegal) non English speaking students, also federally mandated. (I may be pardoned for devoutly hoping Prop 187 will rise again.) It’s bad enough here in the Bay Area ’burbs, the inner city must be worse, but writers need to see that public schools are simply an expression of the social matrix in which they operate. I can’t see how public schools can make equal outcomes happen. To paraphrase Hayek, if unequal units enter an equal system, they come out unchanged, that is, unequal. For them to come out equal would mean that the system must function unequally. Public schools schools should be equally funded, equipped, staffed etc. -- including an equal amount of dollars and minutes spent for each student: handicapped, special ed, nonEnglish-speaking, and that should include the current consumer of the educational hind teat -- your average kid. But as long as schools are "public" I fear that some subcultures will continue to treat the school as free babysitting, after all they get "free lunch" don’t they? and expect the children to somehow mysteriously get educated entirely on site, and blame the schools when the children don’t. An involved parent is the biggest difference in the world to a student, and of course choice in education looks good because it selects for parents who are involved enough to seek choice, not to mention being financially invested! Here in the SF Bay Area, we get students from Asia, some are refugees, most are poor, most enter without speaking English, they live in welfare housing often -- but for the most part, they behave, work hard, excel and move upwards, yes into some our great universities. Those parents have somehow imparted an orientation to education that facilitates their children’s learning. It does not matter what part of town the public school is in, either. Yet we also see other cultures, brutalized by socialism and nanny-statism to a kind of cargo-cult mentality, who expect everything to be given to them, who do not care if someone else is shorted, so long as they get their "rights". I do expect and demand excellence of all my students, but those can’t rise to the bar share the common denominator of lack of parental support, as the parents have lacked cultural support. To blame the public schools is to take a cheap shot. I would definitely apply the Bard’s Rx for lawyers to educrats, and to the teachers’ unions, but to tell the schools to "get their act together" is a cheap shot.

Thanking you for your patience, I remain,

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