Diversity vs. Proportionalism at Hennigan Elementary
December 20, 2005

Ah, the unbearable weirdness of racial politics. A few people in Boston must have been staying up late for weeks just trying to find something they could be unhappy about. Finally they found it: Advanced classes see dip in diversity (Maria Sacchetti, Boston Globe, Dec. 19). Some public Boston elementary schools have "advanced classes" which are intended to help the brighter students prepare for entrance examinations for high schools such as Boston Latin. Up until recently, there was a sort of quota system for the advanced classes so that the percentage of their students who were black or Hispanic was close to the percentage of the entire school-age population that was black or Hispanic. Boston Latin had a similar system but had to give it up as a result of a court decision which insisted that race could not be taken into account in their admissions. School officials felt that the advanced classes in the elemtary schools would be vulnerable to a similar legal challenge, so they made admission to them also by examination.

Those changes resulted in dramatic changes in the racial breakdown of students in advanced classes. Thus, the basic complaint in Ms. Sacchetti's article:

Black and Hispanic students fill 44 percent of the 968 seats in the accelerated classes in the school district, though they make up more than three-quarters of Boston's students overall. White and Asian students now occupy 55 percent of the seats, though they are only 23 percent of the district.
Interesting! The title of the article mentions a "dip in diversity," but the text of the article complains about proportions. If a class is 44 percent black and Hispanic and 55 white and Asian, how much more "diverse" can it get?

Sacchetti also writes:

Teachers and parents say the system means that black and Latino students will remain underrepresented at the city's top schools.
Here is the basic absurdity. Schools are supposed to teach individuals, not represent populations. For example, it so happens that I'm simply not smart enough to have attended MIT. Really. I would have flunked out. But, I AM NOT IN ANY WAY "represented" by the white males who did get into MIT. They were not there to "represent" anyone. Schools and colleges are not legislatures!

The underlying premise of the article seems to be this: The percentage of black students who are capable of keeping up with an advanced class is the same as the percentage of Hispanic students who are similarly talented, which is the same as the percentage of White students who are similarly talented, which is the same as the percentage of Asian students who are similarly talented.

That premise, which I call "proportionalism," is false. The percentages are different for each group. Everyone knows that! There shouldn't be anything to argue about! According to the article, out of 968 students in the accelerated classes, 239 are black. That doesn't sound like injustice to me, that sounds like an accomplishment.

The drift of the article is plain. The current system is fair, but it isn't producing the right results, according to some people's thinking. If white people don't organize and counter this weirdness, the result will be, eventually, that talented white kids will have to step aside and have their places taken by less talented black and Hispanic kids. All for the sake of maintaining a pretense.

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If you're actively opposing things like racial favoritism in school admissions, you should be aware that stories like the above are fairly common. A system could be as fair as humanly possible, yet if it does not yield "right" numbers, someone from the multicultural racial resentment industry will become involved in yet another ignoble crusade.

You can keep up with current developments by following web sites such as VDare.com and American Renaissance. "AmRen," as we fans call it, has discussion threads for all of the news articles it features, including this thread for the Globe's 'Dip in Diversity' article.

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