Thursday, June 24, 2004

"We need to learn what the immigrants' kids have" 

John Rosenberg and Joanne Jacobs link to a report on Lani Guinier and Herny Louis Gates saying that says affirmative action is not helping low-income American blacks.
According to Lani Guinier, a Harvard law professor, and Henry Louis Gates Jr., the chairman of Harvard's African and African-American studies department, "the majority of them � perhaps as many as two-thirds � were West Indian and African immigrants or their children, or to a lesser extent, children of biracial couples," reports the New York Times. Guinier herself is the daughter of a Jamaican father and a white mother.

If their figures are correct, affirmative action is helping students whose families didn't suffer from American slavery or segregation.
So which is it? Diversity improving the education of the majority, or quotas to undo past injustices? Gates and Guinier can't even agree:
This is about the kids of recent arrivals beating out the black indigenous middle-class kids," said Professor Gates, who plans to assemble a study group on the subject. "We need to learn what the immigrants' kids have so we can bottle it and sell it, because many members of the African-American community, particularly among the chronically poor, have lost that sense of purpose and values which produced our generation.

In Professor Guinier's view, there are plenty of other blacks who could also succeed at elite colleges, but the institutions are not doing enough to find them. She said they were overly reliant on measures like SAT scores, which correlate strongly with family wealth and parental education.

"Colleges and universities are defaulting on their obligation to train and educate a representative group of future leaders," said Professor Guinier, a Harvard graduate herself who has been studying college admissions practices for more than a decade. "And they are excluding poor and working-class whites, not just descendants of slaves."

It's worth also seeing what Rosenberg has to say on this article.