Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Academic racism still flourishing

Over thirty years ago the University of California got into big trouble because its medical school at the Davis campus
had two admissions programs for the entering class of 100 students - the regular admissions program and the special admissions program....

The 1973 and 1974 application forms, respectively, asked candidates whether they wished to be considered as “economically and/or educationally disadvantaged” applicants and members of a “minority group” (blacks, Chicanos, Asians, American Indians).... Special candidates ... did not have to meet the 2.5 grade point cutoff and were not ranked against candidates in the general admissions process.

The liberal California Supreme Court found that this procedure violated the Equal Protection Clause. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed about the dual track procedure, although it lamentably did allow the camel’s nose of “diversity” as a rationale for racial discrimination (when all other things are equal, etc.) under the tent.

The University of Massachusetts apparently has a short memory. Inside Higher Ed reports this morning:
"The University of Massachusetts, seeking to increase the diversity of its medical school, plans today to finalize a program to set aside 12 slots in its 125-seat medical school classes for members of certain groups who will be admitted to an undergraduate program at a UMass campus, followed by medical school admission, The Boston Globe reported. To be eligible for one of the slots, candidates will need to be either black, Latino, or come from certain Southeast Asian and other groups, or (regardless of ethnic or racial background) come from a low-income family or be a first-generation college student.

What’s The Problem? As is typical with programs of preferential admission, the UMass program seems designed to solve two problems, one of them cosmetic and the other a lack of sufficient “diversity.”

Cosmetically, the UMass medical school has been enduring the hardship of not looking like Massachusetts, and not producing doctors that sufficiently match the demographic profile of the state. The Boston Globe reports that:
"Five percent of doctors in Massachusetts are black or Hispanic, whereas 16 percent of Bay State residents belong to those groups.... Now, blacks and Hispanics make up 7 percent of UMass Medical School students, but account for 27 percent of UMass Boston undergraduates, and 8 to 12 percent of students at the other [UMass] campuses".

The article did not explain exactly why Massachusetts need its population of doctors to match the racial and ethnic profile of its general population, or why that need is so compelling as to justify racially preferential admissions. Well, that’s not completely accurate. The old standby “diversity” rationale was hauled out. Anthony Garro, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at UMass Dartmouth, the non-diverse medial students also “stand to gain from a more diverse class” because, he claimed, “[d]ifferent cultures ... handle the issues surrounding illness and deal in different ways, points that are difficult to teach in the classroom.”

Really? That would be news to all the sociology, anthropology, and history professors who teach courses on cultural difference. (Indeed, sometimes it seems as though they teach courses on nothing else.) Are all “Hispanic” attitudes the same? Do Mexican-Americans have the same cultural attitudes as Puerto Ricans-Americans and Cuban-Americans? Is there no concern that each of these sub-groups be adequately “represented”? In any event, it does not seem necessary to have different admissions standards for Hispanic medical school applicants so that the non-Hispanic students can learn about Hispanic approaches to sickness and dying. But then, most “diversity” arguments don’t make much sense when you examine them closely.

“Role Models”? According Jack Wilson, the UMass president, “a key barrier to recruiting more minority physicians, or those from disadvantaged backgrounds, is the lack of role models.”

You hear this a lot, as in virtually every defense of preferential treatment based on race or ethnicity, but is it really true? Oh, forget true, which might be too exacting a standard. How about: is there even any credible evidence that it’s true? Are there really large numbers of blacks and Hispanics today who don’t know that they can become doctors if they meet the same admissions and performance requirement expected of all medical students? At some point shouldn’t those who assert the “role model” justification for racial discrimination have to provide at least some evidence that a significant number of highly capable blacks and Hispanics who are not doctors would have become doctors if only they’d had black and Hispanic “role models”?

Oddly, a large portion of the Boston Globe article discusses Jessica Zina, “a Portuguese-American in her first year at UMass Medical School, [who] is the type of student the new state program hopes to attract.” Zina is fluent in Portuguese, her father is a construction worker, and her mother a worker in a Hasbro factory, neither of them high school graduates. And yet, despite the absence of any “role models,” Zina “dreamed of becoming a pediatrician since high school.” Her path to medical school was not straight, but she didn’t need a special program designed to produce “role models” to get there.

In fact, the reason Zina did not attent UMass for college was not because it lacked a special admissions program for her.
Although she said she had never considered attending UMass for her bachelor’s degree because if its lackluster reputation, the Medical Scholars Program would have persuaded her to apply. “I would automatically want to join something like that,” Zina said. “To be that much closer to medical school would really be an advantage. That would be golden.”

I’m sure it would. Of course such a deal would be “golden” for anyone, not just blacks or Hispanics — unless, that is, there’s intrinsic to the culture of “African-Americans, Hispanics, certain Southeast Asians, and Cape Verdeans, Brazilians, and other Portuguese speakers” that makes them uniquely qualified to appreciate and benefit from preferential admissions treatment, a guaranteed summer research opportunity, and targeted financial aid.


College defends prof who mocked Christians

Seeks restoration of policy under which student told 'ask God for grade'

A California college is asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to restore a policy at the center of a case in which a professor berated a Christian student with the suggestion, "Ask God what your grade is." The Los Angeles Community College District, the nation's largest community college system, filed the appeal of a lower-court decision in favor of student Jonathan Lopez, represented by the Alliance Defense Fund.

As WND reported, Lopez, a student at Los Angeles City College, was delivering a speech on his Christian faith in speech class when professor John Matteson interrupted him, called him a "fascist b----rd" for mentioning a moral conviction against homosexual marriage. The professor later told the student to "ask God what your grade is." Matteson also warned on his evaluation of Lopez's speech, "Proselytizing is inappropriate in public school," and later threatened to have the student expelled.

The subsequent lawsuit by the ADF targeted the school for the professor's comments but also sought removal of a campus sexual harassment and speech policy that court documents explained "systematically prohibits and punishes political and religious speech by students that is outside the campus political mainstream."

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge George H. King determined the campus policy was "unconstitutionally overbroad" and ordered it to be stricken from the college's website. The college then told the judge it wanted him to reconsider the case, to which the judge responded, "Defendants do not get a mulligan simply because they chose to retain new counsel." The appeal by the college district to the 9th Circuit followed.

The precedent the college seeks has attracted the attention of other free-speech advocates, including the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, FIRE, which battles college speech restrictions nationwide. FIRE has filed a brief in the case arguing the community college's policy "contradicts both decades of legal precedent and the guidance of the federal Department of Educations Office for Civil Rights." The brief contends if the district police is permitted, "it would gravely endanger the free speech rights of LACCD students and exacerbate the free speech crisis on America's college campuses."

"By continuing to defend an indefensible and unconstitutional speech code with this appeal, LACCD has proven not only that it does not care about its students' First Amendment rights, but that it doesn't care about wasting taxpayer dollars to argue against the Bill of Rights in court," said Will Creeley, FIRE's director of legal and public advocacy. "FIRE is confident that the Ninth Circuit will recognize the impermissible flaws in LACCD's policy and reject this misguided appeal."

The policy the school wants affirmed banishes "generalized sexist statements" as well as "actions and behavior that convey insulting, intrusive or degrading attitudes/comments about women or men."

"Despite over two decades of federal jurisprudence finding policies precisely like LACCD's unconstitutional, LACCD is shamefully attempting to deny its students the First Amendment rights to which they are legally entitled," FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. "FIRE's brief explains why the Ninth Circuit must affirm the district court's decision and make LACCD's sexual harassment policy the latest addition to an unbroken string of unconstitutional codes struck down in federal court."

Judge King granted a preliminary injunction halting the enforcement of the policy because of its First Amendment violations. He then refused to grant the college's motion for reconsideration, calling the college arguments "scattershot and disjointed."

Lopez had quoted Romans 10:9, "Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

He told ADF, "Colleges are supposed to be safe for free speech and the discussion of many ideas. What has happened to me is an assault on my constitutional rights. A victory in this case will guarantee that every student who attends the school now and in the future is allowed to freely express their beliefs, religious or otherwise, without fear."

ADF Litigation Staff Counsel David Hacker said at that time if the school cared about free speech rights of students, "they should not desire to pursue enforcement of such a bad policy."

Lopez was participating in a class assignment to give a speech on "any topic" from six to eight minutes. "During the November, 24, 2008 class, Mr. Lopez delivered an informative speech on God and the ways in which Mr. Lopez has seen God act both in his life and in the lives of others through miracles," ADF said. "In the middle of the speech, he addressed the issues of God and morality; thus, he referred to the dictionary definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman and also read a passage from the Bible discussing marriage."

Those comments led to the outburst from the professor, who canceled the remaining class period and mocked Lopez's faith on his grading review.

"By regulating speech on the basis of its content, no matter how 'disparaging' or 'sexist,' LACCD proposes to appoint itself (or complaining students) the judge of what speech shall be allowed on campus," FIRE official said in the brief. "Such a result cannot be squared with the Supreme Court's pronouncement, issued 'time and again,'" that content discrimination isn't allowed.

It also argued that the college's citation of the state education code wasn't valid. "The rights enshrined in our nation's Constitution, including the guarantees of the First Amendment, are the highest law of the land, and they cannot be superseded by state statute or regulation," the brief argued.


British government pulls the plug on "gifted and talented" academy

The moronic old "all men are equal" dogma rises to dominance once again

The Government has abandoned a flagship policy to provide vital support to the brightest schoolchildren. The national academy for gifted and talented pupils, a central element in Tony Blair's drive to make state schools attractive to middle class parents, is to be scrapped next month. Since it was created in 2002, the academy has provided support, master classes and summer schools for more than 200,000 children and training for thousands of teachers in how to identify and support able pupils.

The U-turn will see much of the academy's £20 million funding targeted instead on deprived teenagers as part of the Government's bid to improve social mobility and get more poor students into top universities.

Critics accused the Government of failing pupils and parents of bright children and said the move was "anti-intellectual". When it was launched, David Miliband, the then schools minister, described the academy as being as radical a reform as the creation of the Open University in the 1960s. The scheme was designed to ensure that the brightest pupils reach their full potential, giving them the kind of help normally only provided by the private sector. But now almost every plank of the scheme is to be dismantled.

* Separate funding for out-of-school master classes, workshops and summer schools will be withdrawn.

* The national gifted and talented register, a database of able pupils identified by their schools, will be abolished.

* The post of director of gifted and talented education at the Department for Children, Schools and Families has disappeared.

* Schools, many of which are ambivalent about giving extra help to gifted pupils because they consider it elitist, will be expected to improve provision for gifted children but with no ring-fenced funding.

* No out-of-school help will be given to high achieving primary schoolchildren

The changes follow Alan Milburn's report on social mobility which said that gifted children should no longer be identified and that a new programme should be "open to all pupils who could benefit from help in "communication skills, IT and developing the right attitude", while providing "bright disadvantaged students" with new opportunities.

Experts said last night that frustrated parents with talented children had been let down by the Government. "From the parents perspective, we are extremely worried about what is happening," said Denise Yates, chief executive of the charity the National Association for Gifted Children. "We are worried that out-of-school provision is going to disappear. There are schools that believe in specific support for gifted and talented children but unfortunately, at the other end of the spectrum, there are some schools who don't. "The national focus on gifted and talented children will be lost and there is nothing in the new plan for primary age children." ...

Deborah Eyre, the former director of the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth (NAGTY) and professor of education at Warwick University, said: "The policy direction has changed substantially. "It looks more like a social mobility programme that doesn't have much to do with gifted and talented. It looks intellectually incoherent and in some respects, anti-intellectual....

Professor Eyre said Labour's attempt to reassure middle-class parents that the state sector could perform as well as independent schools had been jettisoned. "There was a policy position that in a developed country we should be ambitious about education above and beyond the private sector. "There was a sense that if you were a middle class parent and your child was very bright, they would be safe in the state sector. "I don't think that ambition is there now. There is a much stronger priority on making sure that all children achieve minimum standards and very little attention is given to ensuring we get a very high performing system."

Although gifted and talented pupils are supposed to be at the heart of Labour's education policy, Heather Williams, from Poole, in Dorset, had to battle to get support for her son Matthew, five. "I knew Matthew was different because when I was doing sums with his older sister in the bath, she might not get it right but the number would come out of Matthew's mouth. He was about two," said Mrs Williams, a chartered accountant.

But when Mrs Williams initially spoke to Matthew's primary schoolteacher about his ability, she didn't get very far. "Her reaction was very negative," she said. After pushing the point and mentioning it at every parents evening, Matthew was eventually set extra work. But it was intermittent and not challenging enough.

In desperation, Mrs Williams took Matthew to see child psychologist Peter Congdon, who runs the Gifted Children's Information Centre, in Solihull and paid £360 for an assessment. "The conclusion was that the child was "super-bright – brighter than we even expected". The report got things moving. At school, Matthew has been put on the top table in the year above for maths. "He's loving it," said Mrs Williams. "The excitement I saw when he was younger, and he used to ask for three sums before he went to sleep, has come back. I'm really happy with what the school are doing now."

A lack of action is the norm in the school system, said Mrs Williams. "I recently visited a middle school and when I asked what they did for gifted and talented, the teacher said "I hate those words". "But all parents are asking for is that the child has the school work that is suitable for them.

More here

No comments: