By Selwyn Duke
Can quality withstand the assault of diversity? Cases in point: In Virginia and New York City, schools have nixed merit-based entrance exams driven by a racial motive — increasing the number of black and Hispanic students and reducing the presence of whites and Asian-descent youths.
In fact, in Fairfax County, Virginia, a school-board member even admitted that their racial machinations have “an anti asian [sic] feel.”
The New York Daily News reports on the Big Apple racial scheme, writing:
Scrapping a preschool standardized entrance exam as the admissions criterion for New York City’s kindergarten “Gifted and Talented” program more than doubled its enrollment of Black and Hispanic students, new Education Department data reveals.
This year’s kindergarten gifted class, selected through teacher recommendations and a lottery, includes 575 Black or Hispanic students — 24% of the class.
That’s still a far way off from being representative of all city kindergarteners [sic] — 66% of whom are Black and Hispanic.
But it’s more than double the proportion of Black and Hispanic kindergarteners [sic] admitted to the program in 2020, when the entrance exam was still in place. Just 11% of offers to join the program in 2020 went to Black and Hispanic students.
In 2021, 34% of kindergarten gifted offers went to Asian students, compared to 42% in Fall 2020. Data shows that 31% of offers went to white students this year, compared to 34% last school year.
As for the corresponding Virginia story, the Washington Examiner reports:
In [Alexandria] Virginia, the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology [TJ] is denying students admission based on their ethnicity.
The school changed its admissions protocols in late 2020 with the aim of diversifying its student body, which had been more than 70% Asian American up until that point. Officials got rid of its traditional, merit-based standards, including standardized testing requirements, and set up a lottery instead that prioritized the middle schools least likely to send students to TJ. As a result, the number of black and Hispanic students in TJ’s incoming class rose, while the number of Asian American students fell to its lowest share in years. Specifically, black students increased from 1% to 7%; Hispanics increased from 3% to 11%; and Asian Americans decreased from 73% to 54%.
Ironically, however, this racial scheme had an unintended outcome. As Harry Jackson, the first black president of Thomas Jefferson’s parent-teacher association, lamented last year, “The white community had an increase of 43 percent and Asian community decreased by nearly 20 percent.”
Interestingly, while implying this was an injustice, Jackson apparently had no problem when the same race-driven scheme increased black enrollment by 600 percent and Hispanic presence by 200 percent. (Of course, that was the goal.)
That there is a conscious TJ racial agenda was revealed in “unearthed emails and text messages released by the Pacific Legal Foundation,” the Examiner also informs. “In one October 2020 conversation, for example, school board member Abrar Omeish admitted that the proposed changes to TJ’s admissions process would result in discrimination against Asian American applicants.”
“‘I mean there has been an anti asian feel underlying some of this, hate to say it lol,’ Omeish told her fellow school board member Stella Pekarsky,” the Examiner continued.
“In an earlier June 2020 email, TJ Principal Ann Bonitatibus admitted that the school’s goal in changing its admission policy is to ‘reflect the racial composition’ of the Fairfax community better,” the site added, before providing other such examples.
Yet this runs counter to the purpose of institutions such as TJ, a state-chartered magnet school ranked among our country’s best. They weren’t created to “reflect” the “community” any more than an NBA team was created to reflect the community — they’re supposed to reflect the best.
This brings us back to NYC, where then-mayor Bill de Blasio (D) also eliminated admissions tests for certain selective middle and high schools last year. This doesn’t come out of nowhere, either. It reflects “disparate-impact theory,” which holds that if different groups perform differently under a given standard, that standard is by definition unjustly discriminatory and must be scrapped. This rationalization was used decades ago to justify the elimination of rigorous police and fire exams so that women and minorities would be more likely to pass.
As for the kindergarten “Gifted and Talented” test, it was introduced more than a decade ago by then-NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg. Yet critics claim it “measured family privilege and preparation more than anything else,” the New York Daily News relates.
Yet, if this is true, does it mean the test should be scrapped — or altered?
Now, it’s a common gripe that testing isn’t perfect. But what is? Perfection is not a thing of this world. And say what you will about tests, they don’t explicitly and consciously discriminate based on race. The italicized words are in the preceding sentence because some will claim that tests can incorporate unconscious racial bias.
Yet, while it’s hard making the case that school entrance exams were purposely or by chance designed to favor Asian-descent Americans, the reality is that our social engineers peddle their schemes driven by very conscious racial bias. Is this better?
All this controversy could be avoided by simply accepting reality. Consider: As the late Professor Walter E. Williams oft pointed out, there has never been a time or place in history in which groups were equally represented across endeavors.
In fact, the disproportionalities can be profound. Among the many examples Williams provided: Though Jews are only two percent of the world’s population, they’ve won 22 percent of history’s Nobel Prizes; and while blacks are just 13 percent of the U.S. population, they constitute approximately 70 percent of the NFL. Should these disparities be “remedied” via the scrapping of meritocracy, too?
Delving deeper, at least partially driving this racial-bean-counter phenomenon is Equality Dogma. After all, if you believe all groups are “equal” — not just in a spiritual sense but in terms of worldly abilities — you’ll assume that group performance differences must then be caused by unjust discrimination. This can justify destructive social engineering designed to “remedy” this nonexistent problem in a classic case of a cure in search of a disease.
In other words, forcing people to take “medicine” they don’t need didn’t start in late 2020.