Trump Talking Points for Fisher

As we await the Supreme Court’s decision in Fisher v. University of Texas–Austin, challenging the school’s use of preferences for African Americans and Latinos in admissions, I was thinking about what I would like to hear Donald Trump say when asked about the opinion (I know what Hillary Clinton will say).  Normally, I would hope that the Republican nominee, at least, would be supportive of the expected Court decision rejecting or at least limiting such preferences, but it’s more complicated with Mr. Trump. 

The trouble is that, if he said the right thing, then the response of the Left, the media, and others would be, “Well, there you go.  We always said that those opposing affirmative action are bigots, and sure enough, Donald Trump — whom we all know to be a bigot — opposes affirmative action.”  Not helpful.

So here’s a response from Mr. Trump that would better advance the ball:  “The Court’s decision is a yuuuuuuuuuge disappointment.  I think it’s very important for schools to be able to get the Mexican perspective in classroom discussions, as well as of course the perspective of the blacks.  There’s a time and a place for everything.  I mean, I don’t want the Mexican perspective when it comes to the lawsuit against Trump University, so I don’t want a Mexican judge there.  But it’s different in the classroom.  So, sure, schools should be able to admit the right number of the Mexicans and the blacks to get their perspective, since they think about things differently.  And on this I’m sure that Hillary and I agree.” 

And then the press could ask Secretary Clinton whether in fact she agreed with Mr. Trump on this and, if not, then exactly what her disagreement was.

Diversity without Discrimination – And speaking of the Fisher case, there’s an interesting article in the College Fix here, headlined, “Texas A&M sees 114% growth in diversity without affirmative action, it admits students based on merit.”  This is in contradistinction to the Aggies’ rival, the tea-sips at the University of Texas, whose use of racial preferences in admissions has, as noted above, been challenged in a case that that the Supreme Court will decide any day now. 

The principal argument made by the plaintiff in Fisher is that UT has had and can have plenty of diversity without discrimination; the College Fix article seems to say the same thing.  Go Aggies!  Gig the ‘Horns!

Meet That Quota! – Last week the Office for Civil Rights in the Obama administration’s Education Department sent out a “Dear Colleague” letter on “gender equity” in career and technical education. The accompanying press release ties this in with the White House’s “United State of Women” summit, which immediately raises eyebrows: Why is this “significant guidance” regarding, supposedly, complying with the law being timed to coincide with a political event? 

Oh, well. As you might expect, the principal bogeyman here is not having enough females in auto repair programs and not enough males in nursing programs — that sort of thing. It’s made clear that mere equal opportunity is not enough if there aren’t equal results accompanying it, and that you better get your numbers right.

Some examples: States must “meet negotiated targets for participation and completion rates of males and females in programs that are nontraditional for their sex“; “Despite efforts to increase enrollment of male and female students in fields that are non-traditional for their sex, disparities persist in certain fields”; and so let’s “tak[e] proactive steps to expand participation of students in fields where one sex is underrepresented.”

There are also a couple of warnings about “implicit bias” and “ambient bias.”

One way to ensure that the numbers come out right is to take the beloved (to the Obama administration) “disparate impact” approach to civil-rights enforcement. Even though the language of Title IX prohibits only actual “disparate treatment” on the basis of sex, the educrats and their rules and regulations look askance at any policy that has a disproportionate effect. It doesn’t matter if the policy is nondiscriminatorily written, intended, and applied.

Thus: “Recipients also may not use any test or criterion for admission to a school or degree program that has a disproportionately adverse effect on individuals of one sex unless certain criteria are met” — i.e., “A school may use such a test or criterion for admission [only] if it is shown to predict validly success in the education program or activity in question and alternative tests or criteria that do not have such a disproportionately adverse effect are shown to be unavailable” (emphasis added).

Here’s a specific example the letter helpfully gives: “A community college requires students who wish to enroll in its construction management program to have taken classes in construction technology in high school. Few female students are enrolled in the college’s construction management program. Each year a number of female students who express interest in the program are not able to enroll because they did not take classes in construction technology in high school. [OCR will] prohibit schools from using admissions criteria that have a disproportionate adverse effect on students of one sex unless the criteria are validated as essential to participate in the program and are shown to predict success in the program.”

Gotta meet those quotas, interest and qualifications be damned.   

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A recent Washington Postcolumn complained about racial disparities and preschool suspensions.   It relied on an article by a couple of professors (Skiba and Williams) but, the suggestion of that article to the contrary notwithstanding, there is plenty of evidence that at least part of the reason “black students are suspended at higher rates [is] because their behavior is worse.”   See this article from the Journal of Criminal Justice.  And see also this discussion, by an attorney who used to work at the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights.

Note that the Journal of Criminal Justice article addresses a number of earlier articles by Skiba.  Conversely, the Skiba & Williams article did not cite the JCL article, though to be fair it’s not clear which one first appeared (since both were 2014 articles).  

After bringing all this to the Post columnist’s attention, I urged him in the future to reach out to experts with a different view.  I told him that I’m open to the possibility that school discipline policies can be improved (conservatives have been among the critics of zero-tolerance policies, for example), including for preschoolers, but we shouldn’t be so quick to play the race card.

We’ll see.

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In the wake of the Orlando mass shooting, and the fact that the killer was America-born but obviously not America-loyal, I thought I would repost my top-ten list of what we should expect from those who want to become Americans — and those who are already Americans.  It’s a list, then, of what assimilation means:  We don’t all have to eat the same foods and listen to the same music, but we do have to have some common values if our multiracial, multiethnic, multifaith society is to work.

The list was first published in a National Review Online column, and it is fleshed out in Congressional testimony:

1. Don’t disparage anyone else’s race or ethnicity.
2. Respect women.
3. Learn to speak English.
4. Be polite.
5. Don’t break the law.
6. Don’t have children out of wedlock.
7. Don’t demand anything because of your race or ethnicity.
8. Don’t view working and studying hard as “acting white.”
9. Don’t hold historical grudges.
10. Be proud of being an American.