“South L.A. student finds a different world at UC Berkeley”

School had always been his safe harbor.

Growing up in one of South Los Angeles’ bleakest, most violent neighborhoods, he learned about the world by watching “Jeopardy” and willed himself to become a straight-A student.

His teachers and his classmates at Jefferson High all rooted for the slight and hopeful African American teenager. He was named the prom king, the most likely to succeed, the senior class salutatorian. He was accepted to UC Berkeley, one of the nation’s most renowned public universities.

A semester later, Kashawn Campbell sat inside a cramped room on a dorm floor that Cal reserves for black students…

via latimes.com.

What does this story mean?

NRO calls this A Devastating Affirmative-Action Failure:

The Los Angeles Times recently published a devastating case study in the malign effects of academic racial preferences. The University of California, Berkeley, followed the diversocrat playbook to the letter in admitting Kashawn Campbell, a South Central Los Angeles high-school senior, in 2012: It disregarded his level of academic preparation, parked him in the black dorm — the “African American Theme Program” — and provided him with a black-studies course.

The results were thoroughly predictable.

via National Review Online

The NRO story cites “mismatch theory*” and links to another article by the same author (different publication):

A growing body of empirical evidence is undermining the claim that racial preferences in college benefit their recipients. Students who are admitted to schools for which they are inadequately prepared in fact learn less than they would in a student body that matches their own academic level…

…Duke admits black students with SAT scores on average over one standard deviation below those of whites and Asians (blacks’ combined math and verbal SATs are 1275; whites’ are 1416, and Asians’, 1457). Not surprisingly, blacks’ grades in their first semester are significantly lower than those of other ethnic groups, but by senior year, the difference between black and white students’ grades has shrunk almost 50 percent. This convergence in GPA might seem to validate preferential admissions by suggesting that Duke identifies minority students with untapped academic potential who will narrow the gap with their white and Asian peers over their college careers.

Now three Duke researchers have demonstrated that such catching-up is illusory. Blacks improve their GPAs because they switch disproportionately out of more demanding science and economics majors into the humanities and soft social sciences, which grade much more liberally and require less work. If black students stayed in the sciences at the same rate as whites, there would be no convergence in GPAs. And even after their exodus from the sciences, blacks don’t improve their class standing in their four years of college.

This study, by economics professor Peter Arcidiacono, sociology professor Ken Spenner, and economics graduate student Esteban Aucejo, has major implications for the nationwide effort to increase the number of minority scientists. The federal government alone has spent billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money trying to boost minority participation in science; racial preferences play a key role in almost all college science initiatives. The Arcidiacono paper suggests that admitting aspiring minority scientists to schools where they are less prepared than their peers is counterproductive.

I agree that too much tampering in what might be called “fair competition” can harm not only the people who are not awarded what they’ve rightfully earned, but also can harm the people who were supposedly the beneficiaries of such tampering.

We need to fix our K-12 education. This is where the inequality is – far more than at the college level.

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* “Mismatch theory” at Wikipedia leads to this. Note the redirect at the top that sends you to the “affirmative action” page for the concept being discussed here. But the evolutionary mismatch theory fits at least as well, doesn’t it? It isn’t that the students have failed to gain skills – they’ve merely gained the wrong ones for the new environment.

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