In 1902, journalist Lincoln Steffens wrote a book called "The Shame of the Cities." At the time, Americans took pride in big cities, with their towering skyscrapers, productive factories and prominent cultural institutions.
The Supreme Court this week took up a case that just might put an end to race-based college admissions. The justices heard arguments Wednesday involving an affirmative action program, at the University of Texas, whose whole purpose seems to be to give special preference to black and Hispanic applicants who come from middle-income and affluent homes.
Sometimes a trivial embarrassment can become a teachable moment. It was recently revealed that Harvard professor and U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren had self-identified as a Native American for nearly a decade -- apparently to enhance her academic career by claiming minority status. Warren, a blond multimillionaire, could not substantiate her claim of 1/32 Cherokee heritage.
Washington Post editorial writer and liberal blogger Jonathan Capehart is puzzled. Why does the "non-issue" of Harvard Law professor and Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren's Native American ancestry "require so much attention?" he asked last week.
Many years ago, I learned of an episode in the life of a promising young black man that is relevant to things happening now. He had been educated at a good school, and went on to receive degrees at good colleges and universities. Then he went for a Ph.D. in mathematics at one of the leading departments in that field.
In recent months, there have been a growing number of reports of cheating on standardized tests. Just last month, an official with Claremont McKenna College in California resigned after admitting to inflating the SAT scores of incoming freshmen to boost the college's standing in the US News and World Report rankings.
If racial preferences in higher education were good for racial minorities in higher education, we surely would have seen the definitive evidence of it by now. Instead, a widening shelf of empirical research suggests that the opposite is true -- that affirmative action in academia is not advancing minority achievement but impeding it.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor expected colleges and universities to begin phasing out race-conscious admissions policies. They haven't.
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