In the course of arguing against the soft bigotry of low expectations, Naomi Schaefer Riley swerves into a case for insisting that the elementary and secondary schools, no matter where they might be, do their jobs.
Who doesn’t realize computer engineers get paid well? The real problem is that too many black students are getting a hopelessly inadequate K-12 education and by the time they get to college, their best bet is to major in a subject whose exams have no wrong answers and whose professors engage in rampant grade inflation.

Carnevale also argues that’s because blacks are concentrated in open-access schools that have fewer choices of majors. But this, too, is questionable. Plenty of open-access universities offer courses and majors in STEM fields.

The implication is that black students at lower-tier universities are actually less likely to graduate in STEM majors than those at higher-tier ones. Which is patently false. Indeed, the historically black colleges and universities, many of which aren’t selective at all, tend to have among the highest rates of graduating STEM majors.
Study a technical discipline in a class of your intellectual peers, you and your peers master it. Study a technical discipline as the weakest student in the class, you might struggle or wash out. But mightn't there still be a premium to having a technical degree from an institution featured in the U.S. News rankings?  Not necessarily.
And if you want to get a job in a lucrative STEM field, your chances of completing your degree are much better at a lower-tier school. But here’s the real kicker: A recent survey by the Wall Street Journal found that in “fields like science, technology, engineering and math, it largely doesn’t matter whether students go to a prestigious, expensive school or a low-priced one — expected earnings turn out the same.”

For instance, if you go to Manhattan College, where the average SAT score is around 1620, and major in engineering, your mid-career median pay will be $140,000. If you go to Rice, where the average SAT score is 2180, and major in engineering, your pay will be $145,000.
Thus my provocative post title.
If you want to know why there’s still a big salary difference for kids majoring in humanities and social sciences between elite and non-elite schools, it probably has something to do with the substance of the major.

Since most employers have no idea what you learned in your sociology classes, they’ll just assume the kids who went to Harvard are smarter.

But they’ll know exactly what you learned in your math and science classes and so they’ll compensate you well if you did reasonably well no matter where you took them.

If liberal elites really were concerned about increasing the graduation rates and career earnings of minority students, they would realize that the Ivy League is not the answer.
Likewise, policy makers will do better to focus on strengthening the primary and secondary schools, no matter where those might be, in order that the youngster who enrolls at Metropolitan Regional or Directional Comprehensive will be able to handle physics or calculus and finish that engineering degree.

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