Preparation is key

In Scalia Was Right About Race Preferences in the Wall Street Journal, Jason Riley writes (emphasis added):

During oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a case concerning race-conscious college admission policies, Justice Scalia cited research that shows how racial preferences can handicap some black students by placing them in elite schools where they don’t have the same credentials of the average student and struggle academically.

Liberal public figures and media types promptly denounced the remarks. Democratic leader Harry Reid, ever the statesman, stood on the Senate floor Thursday and accused Justice Scalia of endorsing “racist theories.”

We live in a political environment where the intent of a policy aimed at helping minorities is all that matters; questioning the policy’s actual effectiveness is tantamount to racism. Our national debates about racial preferences tend to focus on their legality, not whether they work as intended. Yet both are important, and Justice Scalia is right to question the assumption that racial favoritism in college admissions has been a boon for blacks.

I’d add that is true of anyone given preferential treatment to be admitted to an elite school, or any school.

Certainly, when thrown into the fire, some people blossom and manage to overcome the ill preparation they received (incidentally often from the same people who advocate lower admission standards).

But, they could also blossom in the a second tier school and earn their way into an elite school.

If the desire is to get more of any group of people into selective schools, maybe the focus should be on properly preparing members of that group to be successful in those schools, rather than lowering the bar for them to get in and hoping they catch up to those who were prepared.

What would happen if pro and college sports teams lowered their standards to accept players of lower ability? Very few, if any, of the new athletes let onto those team would excel to the top. And, nobody would (does) buy tickets to watch adult rec league games.

But, lots of athletes could fulfill their dream of being a pro, for a short time, before the leagues go out of business.

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4 thoughts on “Preparation is key

  1. Pingback: Preparation is key #2 | Our Dinner Table

  2. what kind of admission standards are we talking about? act/sat scores? high school g.p.a.s? some composite variable? with extra-credit for community service?

    i had the highest act score in my class and was not accepted into u. of m. but i was into m. s. u.
    which school was more elitist? hard to say.
    i guess my point is that i wasnt prepared to tackle a college education. for whatever reason. i dont think success in education has as much to do with ‘preparation’ as it does ‘determination’.

    is there any statistical standard that would _fairly_ restrict folks of a particular ethnic group (race) re: admissions?

    if u of m only takes kids with 32 or higher on their act, will that skew their enrollment to a particular demographic?
    yale can only take kids with a 34 or higher. is that how elite schools work?

    • Whatever schools use to determine merit.

      Perhaps you weren’t accepted to u. of m. because slots were given to other groups that did not need to get a 32 or above on their act.

      Of course, the any criteria could limit demographic groups. The question is how best to fix that? Is it best to lower the admission standard for them or is it to better prepare them so they can get higher scores?

      The work done in the post above suggests that lowering the admission standard does not have good results.

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