Monday, November 12, 2007

Moving Down The Chain

Over at BlackProf, Angela Onwuachi-Willig asks whether the opponents of affirmative action really -- as they so often claim -- just want to fix educational problems earlier, rather than "lowering standards" at the university level.

For my part, I thought that argument collapsed entirely in the wake of the Parents United case, which, for those of us with bad memories, was about elementary education. And elementary education has nothing to do with "merit" (in the sense that, outside magnet schools, your school assignment isn't based on whether you're seen as a "good" or "bad" student). But yet, the same forces which organized to demolish affirmative action reared their head there as well, signifying that for some people, there is no program designed at targeting the forces that discriminate against Black students that is worthy of support.

Anyway, Professor Onwuachi-Willig points out opposition by a conservative anti-AA organization (The Project for Fair Representation -- an Orwellian name if there ever was one) to a mentor program for middle- and high-school students at some of the worst performing schools in Austin, Texas. The program enrollment is overwhelmingly Black and Latino, because, well, those are the groups that are overwhelmingly present in low-performing school (is it a violation of the color-blind principle to notice that?). The PFR objected based on the "suspicion" that the program was off-limits to White students. Now that they know this isn't true, I hope they'll drop the complaint. But honestly, is there no bigger barrier to "fair representation" in educational achievement than this sort of program? Are there not larger issues we might want to keep our eye on? When this is where these ostensibly "pro-equality" groups focus their attention, is it any wonder that they are perceived as anti-education and, ultimately, anti-Black?

1 comment:

PG said...

To give the absolute maximum benefit of the doubt: have any of these groups staked out a position on stuff like the NY litigation for equalized school funding? or for revisiting San Antonio School District v. Rodriguez?

I am willing to concede that someone can consider "seeing" race to be such an evil that any program that does or seems to do it should be checked out. But what about just plain getting kids the necessary resources to be educated -- without regard to their race or neighborhood? If the "color blind" types were militating to ensure funding as appropriate to needs, even if the schools were de facto racially segregated, I wouldn't be so troubled.