Thomas Sowell

Different families and different cultures produce different habits, different values, different behavior patterns. They don't even want the same things to the same degree, much less have a willingness to sacrifice to the same extent to get those things.

The only kind of fairness we can hope for is applying the same rules and the same standards to everyone.

It certainly wasn't fair, in Mr. Gonzalez's sense of the word, for the schools I attended as a child to require me to take the same tests as children from families with more than twice as much education and several times as much income.

What would have happened if the schools had been "fair" to me in that sense? I would have learned less, had a much easier time in school -- and would have gone out into the world not even knowing enough to realize how little I knew.

By now, I might have been on welfare or in prison. But my teachers would have felt good about themselves for giving a poor boy from the ghetto a break.

Admittedly, at the time I didn't always appreciate all the heavy stuff my tough teachers were laying on me. But, at the time, I also didn't know that the world was going to be a lot tougher than school if I didn't learn.

Fortunately, those teachers were not into "fairness" and there was no Mr. Gonzalez around to file lawsuits to protect me from having to meet the same standards as everybody else.

Reality had to be confronted early on, not postponed.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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