Mismatch is a story of good intentions gone terribly awry. [Law professor Richard] Sander and [journalist Stuart] Taylor document beyond disagreement how university admissions offices’ racial quotas and preferences systematically put black and Hispanic students in schools where they are far less well prepared than others.Standard stuff for National Review readers, along with the expected denunciation of "civility" enforcement that renders criticism of preferential policies as illegal per se, along with the usual hope that the accumulating evidence of universities failing at their mission will lead to an end for business as usual.
As a result, they tend to get low grades, withdraw from science and math courses, and drop out without graduating. The effect is particularly notable in law schools, where large numbers of blacks and Hispanics either drop out or fail to pass the bar exam.
This happens, Sander and Taylor argue, not because these students lack ability, but because they’ve been thrown in with students of exceptional ability — the “mismatch” of the authors’ title. At schools where everyone has similar test scores and levels of preparation, these students do much better. And they don’t suffer the heartache of failure.
The business as usual crowd will have a more difficult time with a similar comparison penned by Leonard Pitts.
Indeed, for all the talk about the so-called "reverse racism" of affirmative action, I have long argued that the real problem with it -- and the reason it needs an expiration date -- is that it might give African-American kids the mistaken idea they carry some inherent deficiency that renders them unable to compete with other kids on an equal footing.Commencing in kindergarten, or before. Enough of rationalizing dysfunctional behavior as some sort of transgressive behavior.
We should be wary of anything, however well-intentioned, however temporary, that conveys that impression to our children. I am proof we have been doing just that for a very long time. And it burns -- I tell you this from experience -- to realize people have judged you by a lower standard, especially when you had the ability to meet the higher one all along. So this "interim" cannot end soon enough.
Because ultimately, you do not fix education by lowering the bar. You do it by lifting the kids.