Monday, August 08, 2005

No clever title, just irritated

This weekend, the Washington Post magazine wrote about the best high school in the country, and how it's trying to increase its minority admissions. On Monday, there was the requisite chat with the author on the Post's website.

I knew there'd be some animosity about this "affirmative action" plan. What I didn't expect was the sheer virulence toward the idea, and the sheer disregard for common sense in general:

"Hispanics" are artificially created by liberals to try to win elections. White Hispanics are no different than whites from anywhere else and yet, they are somehow accorded special privileges because they claim to be somehow disadvantaged. Too bad for the Brazilians and non-Spanish Europeans who do not speak English either. It's bad enough that liberals are encouraging illegal entry by illiterate unskilled people without the entire system being skewed to support them and give them special privileges. Why do you want to dumb down the nation?

I am clueless as to where this moron got the notion that "Hispanics" are a creation of liberals. I think I know a few Hispanics who would be surprised to hear that they would simply cease to exist without the likes of me and my liberal friends. And I won't disagree that this country is getting dumber, but it has nothing to do with the admission policies at a single high school in the DC area and everything to do with the fact that this country as a whole likes to make fun of and disregard and act hostile toward intelligence. You can see it in the current "debate" over evolution, in the attacks on "liberal academia," in the criticisms of presidential candidates as "eggheads" or "brainiacs" when they demonstrate more than a passing familiarity with world history or SAT vocabulary words.

Here's another:

I agree with the question regarding Hispanics - the concept of "diversity" is fundamentally flawed in that it reinforces stereotypes that there is a direct connection between race and values, political views, and life experiences. By using "diversity" as the basis for a more "balanced student experience," aren't we really saying that black students can provide the ghetto perspective, asian students the boat people's perspective, hispanics the bario perspective, and white students the middle class country club perspective?; Why not judge a student not by the color of their skin but the content of thier [sic] character. Perhaps remove "race" from the admission form altogether?

Happily, the author responded by stating that this poster's "notion that race and ethnicty [sic] are null factors in the lives of Americans seems way out of touch with reality."

The best exchange, however, was the following one:

Washington, D.C.: Regarding the achievement gap, which you call a "vexing problem" the source of which is elusive, do you ever consider that average IQs in different ethnic groups might differ?; This possible explanation is never touched upon in places like the Washington Post. Yet, if it is true (and I don't know whether it is or not), it has a crucial implication. Namely, that there will never be exactly proportional representation of each ethnicity at a high-achieving school like TJ, absent lower standards based on race. Shouldn't you at least consider (and write about) this possibility?;

Tyler Currie: Nope.

Thankfully, there were some graduates of that high school on the chat, and they made the excellent point that one thing we should really be trying to figure out is why there are so few minority middle-schoolers who are prepared for the school's entrance exam, and what the elementary schools and middle schools could be doing to ameliorate that problem.


Anonymous Habibi said...

Wow. Those are some strong words. One thing I will never understand is ignorance. And why it isn't getting any smaller, but yet, growing day by day. In an age where we can find everything we need to know and more, why are people still so uninformed?

1:58 AM, August 09, 2005  
Anonymous Running2Ks said...

Tell me this had to be a joke. Unbelievable. What next, some white people can give the redneck experience, others can give the rich perspective, some can be dumb blondes? I mean, it sounds silly to put it like those examples. Why anyone would think doing things like this--worse by adding racism to the mix--is beyond comprehension to me.

9:27 AM, August 09, 2005  
Blogger liz said...

Ick, ick, ick.

The world would be so much nicer if God not given some people less brains than he gave to the average goat.

10:15 AM, August 09, 2005  
Blogger Yankee T said...

The Attorney's main passion in the law is equal educational opportunity. Only when such a thing exists FROM KINDERGARTEN UP will we be able to begin to address these issues. And nothing, as far as I know, will correct the thinking of these wingnuts. It's very discouraging.

10:31 AM, August 09, 2005  
Blogger halloweenlover said...

I found myself nodding in agreement APL, especially on this nation getting dumbed down. Since when is intelligence a trait we don't look for in a president? Honestly.

Wow. Well, thanks to y'all for socially constructing my Hispanic heritage. I appreciate the dulce de leche and empanadas and all that, and the discrimination, that was a hoot too :)

10:32 AM, August 09, 2005  
Blogger Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

Shit, HL, now all I can think about are empanadas.

Mmmm, empanadas....

10:58 AM, August 09, 2005  
Blogger RussianViolets said...

I think that the only response here is, "Oh my F#$%ing god!" I'm horrified and incensed.

3:41 PM, August 09, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know that ignorance is growing. I just think today's media tools make it possible to venerate the ignorant.


4:47 PM, August 09, 2005  
Blogger Songbird said...

I ate dinner last night with college friends. One has a child at T.J., the other two kids in the G&T program at a desirable Fairfax County Elementary School. They are so proud of being sequestered. The latter friend lives in a 1960's neighborhood of nice but not fabulous houses. There is now a phenomenon of buying houses in that neighborhood and tearing them down to build the McMansion's that families wanting that school apparently need to live in nowadays. When it costs $500,000 to buy a house to tear down, how is there any hope of socio-economic diversity in the type of school prepping the kids who will surely go to T.J. someday? God Almighty, we are screwed up.

9:11 PM, August 09, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I taught in Arlington County Public Schools for quite a few years in the 90's. I taught wonderful kids all across the socio-economic spectrum. But it was really instructive for me to witness the lengths which very wealthy parents went to make sure their kids in middle school were prepared to get into exclusive high school programs - if not TJ, then AP/IB programs or private schools.

Parents paid private tutors $50-75 per hour to prepare their rising 7th graders to take the SAT (yes, the SAT!) to get accepted in the Johns Hopkins Talent Search program for gifted kids. They paid the same for kids to get tutored 3-5 hours per week to prepare for the TJ entrance exams. And as a public school teacher, I was pressured to help "remediate" these kids after school - kids who were already achieving way above grade level skills. I actually had a parent schedule numerous conferences with me to talk about my plans for helping her son with his "verbal deficiencies". You see, he scored 720 on the math portion of the SAT, but only 550 on verbal. In the summer before 7th grade! It was crazy.

Meanwhile, I taught very bright, very capable, very eager students who were from poorer families who couldn't possibly afford private tutoring but who quite possibly had far more innate intellectual gifts than their wealthier peers.

When I read all of the wealthy [usually white] parents who bitch and moan about their "gifted" kids who don't get accepted to TJ (after thousands and thousands of dollars paid to private test prep help), I think of the dozen gifted kids per year that I taught that didn't even try to take the exam...their parents never heard of TJ, much less budgeted for private tutoring.

Personally, I think that admissions policies concerned with diversity should consider economic diversity as a major factor in addition to racial, geographic, and ethnic diversity.

7:04 AM, August 10, 2005  
Blogger Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

Welcome, Anonymous, and thanks for your contribution to the discussion. I really appreciate your personal insight, and have heard other anecdotes that are similar to your tale. I hope you'll come back (and pick out a name for yourself--"Anonymous" is so... ubiquitous in bloggerland).

9:18 AM, August 10, 2005  

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