Friday, March 19, 2010

The Disparate Impact of Affirmative Action


The KC “red” Star’s Barb Shelly is quick to throw around claims of racism after reading a Princeton University study from 2004 that showed Asian-Americans need to score 50 points higher to gain admission to elite schools than black or white students.

As the mom of a high school senior who keeps an eye on these things, I've been noticing that students of Asian background can have absolutely stellar credentials and still be waitlisted or rejected at selective colleges.

True, the competition has never been so intense, and the college admissions process will never be completely fair. I support attempts by universities to invite students from a variety of backgrounds to their campuses. But anecdotally, it seems as though Asian kids have to clear a higher barrier than anyone else.

I checked it out, and the perception is more than anecdotal. A 2004 study by Princeton University researchers established that Asian kids need to score 50 points higher on the SAT than kids of other races to have a chance at getting admitted to the so-called elite universities.

Daniel Golden, who wrote a riveting book about the inequities in college admissions, calls Asian students "the new Jews," referring to unwritten policies before 1950 that set blatantly high bars for even the brightest Jewish applicants.

The problem, says Golden, is that college admission offices assume that Asian kids are going to be robotically drilled in the maths and sciences and lack creativity and depth. One admissions dean whom Golden interviewed referred to a rejected student from a Korean-American family as "yet another textureless math grind."

May I say first of all that this country would do well do encourage math grinds. But more pertinently here, what a stereotype. High school counselors and college admissions staffers should look at Asian-American kids as the amazing multitalented young people they are, not math or science drones.

Rather than making some racist illusions that Ms Shelly clearly has no factual evidence to support, perhaps she would be wiser to explore the hypothesis that the reason Asian-Americans have to score 50 points higher than their counterparts is because of the disparate impact of Affirmative Action quotas.

It seems plausible that the cause of Asian-Americans having to score 50 points higher is their inherently high IQ combined with the small number of admissions slots available to them.

"Around the world, the average IQ for East Asians centers around 106; for Whites, about 100; and for Blacks about 85 in the U.S. and 70 in sub-Saharan Africa"

Lets say at one of these elite ivy league schools there are 100 slots for new students this year. Of these 100 slots, due to affirmative action quotas, only 5 are available to Asian-Americans.

According to the Asian American Population Estimates report by United States Census Bureau from June 2009, Asian Americans make up approximately 5% of the U.S. population.

With a far superior average intelligence and such a small number of available admissions slots, it stands to reason that Asian-American applicants would need to score significantly higher scores than their white or black counterparts for entrance.

Once again, the social justice policy of judging people based on color, and not content, is resulting in the exact opposite affect of what was intended.

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