Friday, December 14, 2018

Affirmative Action and the Rest of Us

The writer below is of mixed ancestry and feels alienated by the boxes Leftists constantly put people in.  He feels that his situation shows how rigid and foolish is the identity obsession of the Lerft

As the American melting pot continues to melt, how will Affirmative Action deal with the growing population of culturally and ethnically diverse Americans who don’t fit into any box?

The topics I want to hear about don’t get brought up much during most races for federal office. I’ve never heard a congressional debate where the devaluing of our dollar by the Federal Reserve was brought up, or Senate candidates discuss how they plan on continuing to fund the hundreds of military installations we have around the world while also increasing welfare spending. In Virginia, a red-gone-purple state that seems to have converted blue, the 2018 midterm has focused primarily on one issue- who will support the President’s agenda, and who won’t. Real policy debates being left out of this equation.

It shocked me on Monday evening however when scrolling through my inbox I saw a subject header with “Corey Stewart” and “Affirmative Action” in the same sentence. Of all the things I would say matter to Republican candidate Corey Stewart, I didn’t think Affirmative Action (in which college admissions decide who gets a shot and who doesn’t based on an applicant’s race when coming down to a final decision) was one of them.

The article attached from the conservative site the Bull Elephant discussed a press conference held where Mr. Stewart and members of the Vietnamese and broader Asian community joined together to declare their intention to fight to remove racial quotas in college admissions via the policy realm (primarily if Stewart wins the race, in which he pledged to sponsor legislation doing so). Asian-Americans, who are steadfastly becoming the majority-minority block in the United States, have for decades been discriminated against in college admissions based off their race.

A recent Washington Post article discussing the same topic even went on to mention how the Department of Justice even backed a group of Asian students in a lawsuit against the admissions department of Harvard. This is a topic that goes by the wayside in the mainstream media because a conversation about the ethics and impact of Affirmative Action seems to devolve into one side calling it “state sponsored racism” or “racial equality.”

At the Wednesday night US Senate debate, Mr. Stewart brought up this issue in which incumbent Senator Kaine replied stating he wanted “classrooms that look like America.” I’m glad this topic is finally being addressed publicly, but it still brings with it some other difficult challenges in order to find a better solution.

Affirmative Action was established in a post-Jim Crow era in order to ensure black students (a massively disenfranchised section of American society thanks to Jim Crow laws) had a fairer shot of obtaining college admissions. Having lived and gone to school in Alabama, I learned first hand what the struggle for civil rights looked like, and the cost for those who fought for it. At museums throughout the state there are still exhibits that mention Alabama Governor George Wallace’s famous tirade “segregation now! Segregation forever!” This is for many Americans, a speech that still feels like it was given yesterday.

With great strides in racial equality made despite all the challenges- social and economic- that have come with time, Affirmative Action seems to be running out of excuses for its relevance. For many Americans like myself, this racially based quota system puts us in a strange position that for many people in my shoes, becomes sort of an identity crisis.

My mother is half Korean and half anglo-American, and my father is half Puerto Rican and half anglo-American. I grew up primarily with my Korean grandmother involved in my life but still developing a working knowledge of latin culture due to my last name being Martinez. Racial surveys have always made me feel uncomfortable because I don’t know what box I fit in to, or why it even matters to begin with. I’m a minority-mix up, but on the outside I look what many would consider white. However the question arises; am I categorized based on how I look or what is in my blood? My last name Martinez embodies my latino heritage, so am I in the latino/hispanic box? What about the fact that I was closer to my mother’s asian side of the family? Surely I could make a case for myself identifying as the Asian/pacific islander box strictly speaking.

The further you go the more complicated you get once you narrow down the boxes. What is the true difference between a “latino” and a “hispanic?” I know as many black latinos as I do brown latinos and blonde hair, blue eyed latinos. Are people from Spain considered in the latino category because that is where my lineage goes back to, yet most would consider them white-European. Do all spanish speakers qualify for the vague latino box? I for one don’t even speak a lick of Spanish. Why also is the Asian box not split up between the Middle East and the oriental sections of the continent of Asia? How on Earth did the Pacific Islander population get put in the same block as Indians, Pakistanis, Chinese, and Koreans?

As the American melting pot continues to melt, how will Affirmative Action deal with the growing population of culturally and ethnically diverse Americans who don’t fit into any box? These are very difficult questions but questions that must be discussed in the public forum. I for one have always been a strong advocate for what Ayn Rand described as the “largest minority” on Earth, “the individual.” Maybe classrooms need to look like the people that have earned a place in them and not just what we imagine would be the ideal aesthetic.

Whether you support Corey Stewart or Tim Kaine in November, you should be glad they are at least having this discussion in the public forum because one day within our lifetime probably, Affirmative Action is going to truly become a front and center topic no one will be able to run away from.


Harvard Study Shows the Dangers of Early School Enrollment.
Are ADHD rates rising because we send children to school at younger ages?

Every parent knows the difference a year makes in the development and maturity of a young child. A one-year-old is barely walking while a two-year-old gleefully sprints away from you. A four-year-old is always moving, always imagining, always asking why, while a five-year-old may start to sit and listen for longer stretches.

Growing Expectations vs. Human Behavior

Children haven’t changed, but our expectations of their behavior have. In just one generation, children are going to school at younger and younger ages, and are spending more time in school than ever before. They are increasingly required to learn academic content at an early age that may be well above their developmental capability.

In 1998, 31 percent of teachers expected children to learn to read in kindergarten. In 2010, 80 percent of teachers expected this. Now, children are expected to read in kindergarten and to become proficient readers soon after, despite research showing that pushing early literacy can do more harm than good.

In their report Reading in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose education professor Nancy Carlsson-Paige and her colleagues warn about the hazards of early reading instruction. They write,

When children have educational experiences that are not geared to their developmental level or in tune with their learning needs and cultures, it can cause them great harm, including feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and confusion.

Hate The Player, Love the Game

Instead of recognizing that schooling is the problem, we blame the kids. Today, children who are not reading by a contrived endpoint are regularly labeled with a reading delay and prescribed various interventions to help them catch up to the pack. In school, all must be the same. If they are not listening to the teacher, and are spending too much time daydreaming or squirming in their seats, young children often earn an attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) label and, with striking frequency, are administered potent psychotropic medications.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 11 percent of children ages four to seventeen have been diagnosed with ADHD, and that number increased 42 percent from 2003-2004 to 2011-2012, with a majority of those diagnosed placed on medication. Perhaps more troubling, one-third of these diagnoses occur in children under age six.

Children who start school as the youngest in their grade have a greater likelihood of getting an ADHD diagnosis than older children in their grade.

It should be no surprise that as we place young children in artificial learning environments, separated from their family for long lengths of time, and expect them to comply with a standardized, test-driven curriculum, it will be too much for many of them.

New findings by Harvard Medical School researchers confirm that it’s not the children who are failing, it’s the schools we place them in too early. These researchers discovered that children who start school as among the youngest in their grade have a much greater likelihood of getting an ADHD diagnosis than older children in their grade. In fact, for the U.S. states studied with a September 1st enrollment cut-off date, children born in August were 30 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than their older peers.

The study’s lead researcher at Harvard, Timothy Layton, concludes: “Our findings suggest the possibility that large numbers of kids are being overdiagnosed and overtreated for ADHD because they happen to be relatively immature compared to their older classmates in the early years of elementary school.”

This Should Come as No Surprise

Parents don’t need Harvard researchers to tell them that a child who just turned five is quite different developmentally from a child who is about to turn six. Instead, parents need to be empowered to challenge government schooling motives and mandates, and to opt-out.

As universal government preschool programs gain traction, delaying schooling or opting out entirely can be increasingly difficult for parents. Iowa, for example, recently lowered its compulsory schooling age to four-year-olds enrolled in a government preschool program.

As New York City expands its universal pre-K program to all of the city’s three-year-olds, will compulsory schooling laws for preschoolers follow? On Monday, the New York City Department of Education issued a white paper detailing a “birth-to-five system of early care and education,” granting more power to government officials to direct early childhood learning and development.

As schooling becomes more rigid and consumes more of childhood, it is causing increasing harm to children. Many of them are unable to meet unrealistic academic and behavioral expectations at such a young age, and they are being labeled with and medicated for delays and disorders that often only exist within a schooled context. Parents should push back against this alarming trend by holding onto their kids longer or opting out of forced schooling altogether.


Let’s listen to the children in Detroit schools

Why are leading educators, lawyers, and scholars filing briefs this week asking the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to listen to children in the Detroit public schools? A district court declined to proceed with the school children’s complaint that the Detroit public schools deprive students — 97 percent of whom are students of color — of any real chance for basic literacy while also exposing them to unsanitary and unsafe conditions. The school system has the lowest literacy rate of any major school district in the nation, a shortage of qualified teachers, and teaching materials that are both out-of-date and too few to serve the students. The schools do not even offer a core curriculum. Instead, the schools are infested with rodents and other pests. Extreme temperatures require early-bird dismissals and school closings.

The experience of Detroit public school students, in these unsafe and failing schools, is at odds with the genuine educational opportunities offered in the public schools of Detroit’s suburbs and elsewhere in Michigan. The State of Michigan has overseen the Detroit schools for nearly two decades. The City of Detroit, Detroit superintendent of schools, and Board of Education join in efforts by myself and others to reverse the district court’s ruling and get federal judicial protection for the Detroit school children.

Michigan convinced the district court to dismiss the complaint even though assertions in a complaint are treated as true at this stage. The only question now is whether there is a potential legal claim, assuming the evidentiary claims are true. The State of Michigan does not dispute that the Detroit schoolchildren are not obtaining basic literacy skills; instead, it blames the students and their families. In fact, the federal District Court judge acknowledged that the state officials are the ones responsible for the “deplorable conditions.” The judge also recognized that literacy is of “incalculable importance” but worried that there is no direct precedent to support the Detroit schoolchildren’s claims. In short, the District Court ruled that the students’ right to an education is not protected by the Constitution.

Actually, the United States Supreme Court laid the path for the students’ claims, more than 60 years ago, in the unanimous and internationally heralded decision in Brown v. Board of Education. The Supreme Court not only rejected state racial segregation in public schools; it also announced:

“In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.”

These words become only more compelling in the digital age, when jobs, news, political participation, and even social life depend on people’s literacy in the written word and other basic skills. No wonder the Supreme Court reasoned more recently:

“The American people have always regarded education and [the] acquisition of knowledge as matters of supreme importance. We have recognized the public schools as . . . the primary vehicle for transmitting the values on which our society rests. . . . In sum, education has a fundamental role in maintaining the fabric of our society.”

When a nation has elected — as every state in this nation has — to compel students to attend schools and to provide public schools, students in return have a right to a minimally adequate education. And when some students receive it and others do not, our constitutional commitment to equal protection is denied.

There are practical concerns. Failing to educate children not only places them at a terrible disadvantage. It also harms their families and communities. It exacerbates the risk that they will lack jobs, turn to crime, or rely on public assistance to survive, and it deprives the larger society of their talents and contributions. These are policy matters, but they are also relevant to the definition of legal obligations.

The law supplies sufficient grounds for the courts to act. When a state provides genuine education opportunities for some while confining others in failing, unsafe schools lacking adequate teachers and materials, it violates the guarantees of the Constitution. That is why I and so many others are joining this week to support the Detroit students seeking help from the federal appellate court.


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