Walter E. Williams

Last December, I reported on Harvard University professor Stephan Thernstrom's essay "Minorities in College -- Good News, But...," on Minding the Campus, a website sponsored by the New York-based Manhattan Institute. He was commenting on the results of the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress, saying that the scores "mean that black students aged 17 do not read with any greater facility than whites who are four years younger and still in junior high. ... Exactly the same glaring gaps appear in NAEP's tests of basic mathematics skills." Thernstrom asked, "If we put a randomly-selected group of 100 eighth-graders and another of 100 twelfth-graders in a typical college, would we expect the first group to perform as well as the second?" In other words, is it reasonable to expect a college freshman of any race who has the equivalent of an eighth-grade education to compete successfully with those having a 12th-grade education?

Maybe this huge gap in black/white academic achievement was in the paternalistic minds of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals justices who recently struck down Michigan's ban on the use of race and sex as criteria for college admissions. The court said that it burdens minorities and violates the U.S. Constitution. Given the black education disaster, racial preferences in college admissions will become a permanent feature, because given the status quo, blacks as a group will never make it into top colleges based upon academic merit.


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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