I was reading an opinion piece on the Yahoo website when I ran across an opinion piece titled “Dumbing down higher education.” It starts off talking about how not only are some people going to the polls to pick a candidate but they are going to vote on ending racial preference. My first thought was “what they are voting on ending white privilege, now this I have to read!” Yes quite naïve of me to think that anyone would actually be talking about white privilege and its demise. No, this person was of course talking about affirmative action. Sigh. I think my opinions of affirmative action are pretty clear.
Anyway the piece is talking about the fact that some would like to lower the entrance requirements in California colleges in order to bring up the attendance of blacks and Latinos. Since they discontinued affirmative action the “best” colleges in California have of course whitened up a bit and that has people worried. The blacks and Latinos have started ending up in less prestigious schools. The author felt that changing the standards would be doing the ill prepared black and Latinos a severe disservice as then they would probably fail. I can’t necessarily argue with that as it could very well be true. But, what I can argue with is the assertion that they are just lacking in knowledge and skill versus their white and Asian counterparts. I don’t think people look at the big picture.
The author states “High standards have served the UC system well. UC Berkeley and UCLA are among the best schools in the nation, public or private. But after California voters banned giving preference in admission to the schools on the basis of race or ethnicity, fewer blacks and Hispanics made the cut for Berkeley and UCLA, and ended up elsewhere in the system.” Now how do less blacks and Latinos in the “best” colleges serve the system well? I think that we all know the answer to this one. Why should these so called “best” schools be out of reach for those blacks and Latino students, shouldn’t they have access to the best education possible. AHA! This is what I have been hinting at.
This author can’t see past the fact that the students are ill educated. She can’t see that if these students had the SAME or EQAUL education as the white students no one would have a need to lower standards or affirmative action or any other programs developed because of the fact that whites have consistently ensured that ‘they’ would benefit from the disparities. Before you even ask, whites ensure they benefit when they: look the other way when white privilege is working its magic for them, use racial bias to see blacks as unqualified, uneducated and unworthy so as to keep them out of jobs, housing and well equipped schools, white flight in order to keep the neighborhood “good” i.e. White, and by acting as if everything IS equal therefore there is no need for any of the aforementioned programs.
Instead of worrying about the minority students using some special privilege to get into the colleges why don’t we focus our attention on getting the minority students access to the same education. Christine Sleeter has done intensive research on racism in schools. It goes beyond the lack of funding, run down school buildings, inadequate supplies; it goes to the fact that even the educational staff is predominantly white. And unfortunately regardless of what people say some teachers and not only the white ones have preconceived thoughts about minorities. So they tend to “teach” to the minorities in a different way than the white students would get. This causes disparities in learning.
The fact is that predominantly white schools have the neighborhoods, funds, teachers, supplies, buildings and curriculum that nurture students to become the type of learners who will be able to not only get into “good” colleges but have a higher ability to do well. The predominantly minority schools lack funding, adequate buildings, supplies, teaching staff, curriculum and plain old respect. Thus this starts from an early age the student never has a chance to not only learn but to get a fair shot at becoming the type of student who will not only get into but achieve at these “good” colleges.