by Caitlin Flanagan published in The Atlantic
Read original on The Atlantic's website
In this piece of opinion, Flanagan looks at the Un...Show description
Posted 676 days ago
I think that Flanagan wrote this piece in anger and frustration at the Univeristy of California's decision to cut standardized testing as an element of its admissions evaluation. She makes A LOT of good points, but her conclusion is kind of scattershot, and although something to think about deeply, seems more alarmist that factual. Of course, I might be wrong here and she might be right on the money, but we will have to see.
Her initial argument against removing standardized tests is that they are not the cause of discrimination, rather a manifestation of it. Kids test bad, she says, because their schools are bad. She continues:
There was a loophole these students could use, and it involved test scores: The course-load requirement could be waived for those who did well enough on the SAT or the ACT. This was a Hail Mary pass for many smart kids who, for whatever reason, didn’t do well in high school or did well but not in the A-G classes. In 2018, about 22,000 students “tested in” to the UC. Almost half of those students were low-income, and more than a quarter were Black, Latino, or Native American. The UC has now taken this lifeline away.
Why would they decide to do this? She references a report conducted under the direction of Janet Napolitano, the UC President at the time. Flanagan believes that, frankly, they ignored the findings for the following reason:
Why did the regents completely ignore this report? I have a guess. People in power today would much rather do something that seems to promote “equity” than make an evidence-based choice that could lead to accusations of racism. This is the kind of infuriating policy decision that looks like it is going to help poor, minority students but will actually harm them.
I have to agree with her conclusion; that is how a lot of decisions are being made at the moment. People who don't know how to make decisions for equity are doing so because they are afraid, or maybe less cynically, just don't know how to pull out useful decisions from what they see in the media.
Flanagan's final point is that if we were to really want to have proportional demographics in the UC system (based upon the demographics in the state's elementary schools, then there will be some seriously tough decisions. She says that Black students are underrepresented by 1 percentage point, Latinos are underrepresented by 30 points, Whites underrepresented by 1 point and Asian and Pacific Islanders overrepresented by 22 points.
This last idea has a lot packed into it, and although I'm glad she brought it up, I think it will take a lot more thought to come to a real conclusion here. She, probably rightfully, warns that people might try to take the spots away from kids who have earned it, those primarily being Asian-American in theory, and gives a passionate response:
It is immoral, and ought to be illegal, to treat them as a menace to be contained. They happen to be the majority of our highest-achieving students, and they belong at the University of California.
There is A LOT to think about and unpack in this article and hopefully a lot of people read it.