As an outspoken opponent of racial preferences or any policy that holds black students to a lower standard than everyone else, I was pleased to see a black mother feels the same way. Many black parents might agree, but you don’t often hear about them.
That black and Hispanics students tend to score lower on standardized tests than whites and East Asians, for example, is a fact. Trying to raise these scores is a noble pursuit. Blaming racism and/or lowering standards for blacks and Hispanics are not.
Sylvia Nelson, a black mother with two children in the Cincinnati Public Schools, opposes lowered standards for her children to increase diversity.
First, Nelson says the school her kids attend, Walnut Hills High School, doesn’t have a “diversity” problem. From Fox News:
Black students make up approximately 23.1% of students currently enrolled at Walnut Hills. CPS currently has 62% of students who are Black. Nelson notes that someone may believe there is a diversity problem because the school district’s demographic makeup does not reflect Walnut Hills.
“I just think the resources need to be focused on really making sure that the parents feel like they have alternatives and safe places and quality education for their kids beyond elementary school,” Nelson said. “And Walnut Hills is not the only place that can happen, it can happen in these other schools. I think that there could be more done to make sure that our kids are prepared for the rigor of a college preparatory school.”
Second, Nelson said she feels insulted. She said she doesn’t “believe standards need to be lowered for African Americans to get into Walnut.”
Holding black children to a lowered standard of achievement is also harmful. However well-intentioned “affirmative action” was decades ago, it’s the wrong approach to address racial disparities in education. Racial preferences reinforce negative stereotypes and undermine the potential for academic achievement.
Racial preferences don’t close the achievement gap. The gap still exists, but now black students have a false sense of achievement. They enter college and the workforce under “diversity” schemes less prepared than their counterparts.
Black students must meet rigorous standards and expectations.
And if anyone cares, racial preferences devalue the hard work and effort of students who have worked hard to earn good grades and test scores.
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It is an old and tired myth that “Black kids are held at a lower academic standard.” If he/she rigorously apply themselves to their schoolwork, community involvement, spiritual enlightenment, etc., they’ll find that they are equal (and sometimes better) than the next White or Asian kid with the same ambition to succeed and thrive in adulthood. The so-called “soft bigotry of low expectations” often falls at the foot of the teacher/school system…not the kid.
Individuals may expect blacks to apply themselves and succeed on the merits, but any institution that admits blacks with lower grades and scores than other students has lowered its standards to admit the black students. Maybe this will change if the Supreme Court strikes down racial preferences. Right now, it exists. Some call it “affirmative action.” Others call it “diversity.”
Since its inception, “affirmative action” has helped to cultivate and produce some of the finest stewards of American society. Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Ketanji Brown Jackson certainly come to mind. This long-standing policy should be left to each individual college/university to implement as they see fit.
That was certainly the intention – but it’s become something very different. The result is that women and people of color often find that their achievements are suspect, because many assume that they got their degrees and jobs not on merit, but because they belong to a favored group.