Center for Equal Opportunity

The nation’s only conservative think tank devoted to issues of race and ethnicity.


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CEO on Stage … and Behind the Scenes

The National Association of Scholars has launched a new webpage dedicated to its study of Bowdoin College. It will feature a series of “contextualizing observations” in the weeks leading up to its publication of a full report; the first such installment is available here. The entertaining origins of this effort will be familiar to the Center for Equal Opportunity’s supporters, and can be read about here and here. Congratulations to NAS on what promises to be an important case study of political correctness.  And congratulations to CEO board member Tom Klingenstein, who has played the leading role in bringing all this about.

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I want to mention just briefly a couple of items where the Center for Equal Opportunity’s behind-the-scenes efforts paid off last week. 
In the first, a city council was thinking about paying for an expensive “disparity study” to justify the use of racial, ethnic, and gender preferences in municipal contracting.  CEO prepared an extensive analysis of the legal and policy problems with such discrimination, and urged the city council not to endorse the proposal.  Much to the surprise of the proposal’s supporters, the measure failed to pass. 
In the second, a state department of education had published proposed regulations that would mandate that public schools have no racial disproportions in their discipline rates.  CEO sent in another extensive analysis of why this made no sense as a matter of law or policy:  that such quotas would inevitably result in some students not being disciplined who ought to be, and other students being disciplined who ought not to be, with the real losers being serious students in classes that would be disrupted by other students because of politically correct bean-counting.  The proposed regulations have now been withdrawn.

The Center for Equal Opportunity is constantly involved in efforts like this.  Doing so effectively often requires us to work behind the scenes (as in these cases), and we’re happy to do so if that’s what it takes.

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On the other hand, sometimes we get public recognition, and that’s fine, too.  The current issue of the journal Academic Questions focuses on “One Hundred Great Ideas for Higher Education,” and it includes two from yours truly (tongue slightly in cheek on the first):


Sustainability Trumps Diversity

Save ink and paper by eliminating race boxes on application and employment forms.

This will get rid of that pesky temptation to discriminate against some groups (whites, Asians) and in favor of others (African Americans, Latinos) in college admissions. Admit and hire without regard to skin color or national origin, and cut down fewer trees while you’re at it.

Go green! (And forget about black, white, brown, etc.)

More Transparency for Diversity

Universities’ pursuit of “diversity” among the students they admit and the faculty they hire is controversial, but it’s hard to understand how anyone could argue that this pursuit should be shrouded in secrecy.
Schools should be required to divulge what they spend on efforts to promote diversity. In “Less Academics, More Narcissism,” Heather Mac Donald documented how even in California — which has limited these efforts by a state constitutional amendment and is facing a budget crisis of staggering proportions — the price tag has been substantial.

And the price goes beyond administrative and personnel costs, as I discussed in the Winter 2011 Academic Questions in “Affirmative Discrimination and the Bubble.” For example, not only are better qualified applicants for student and faculty slots rejected, but the evidence is mounting that the less qualified individuals accepted instead are often being set up to fail — it’s the “mismatch effect.” It makes sense for schools to reveal, in this case, the graduation and bar passage rate, etc., for students admitted with a particular GPA and SAT/LSAT/MCAT score. A student of any race or ethnicity about to take on a large student loan debt might be quite interested in his odds of obtaining a degree at a specific school.

Finally and most fundamentally, schools should be required to reveal when they are granting preferential treatment on the basis of skin color and national origin — and if they are, how much weight is being given and what steps they are taking to ensure that the preferential treatment falls within the legal constraints established by the Supreme Court. We can debate whether such discrimination is a good idea or not, but surely no one would argue that the discrimination should be done secretly and/or illegally — especially at public or publicly-funded schools. Legislation has been introduced to require this reporting as a matter of federal law, and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has endorsed this approach.

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Finally, I wanted to mention briefly a post I had today on National Review Online.  It noted James Bovard’s good op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on the EEOC’s warning to employers that they “Perform Criminal Background Checks at Your Peril.” The problem, says the EEOC, is that such checks can have a disproportionate impact on some racial and ethnic groups. And now, I added, a federal lawsuit has been filed, taking the Obama administration’s cue, and “alleging that the NCAA’s 2011 rule which permanently bars, among other things, convicted felons from coaching in NCAA-certified tournaments, discriminates against African-Americans ….”

I titled the post:  “Criminal Background Checks:  Okay for Gun Sales, but not for Hiring?”