ADDRESSING RACISM BY CREATING MORE OF IT: ANOTHER FAILED ATTEMPT?

Montgomery County, Maryland has a racial problem.

No, it is not a White/Black issue.  It is a Black/Asian issue.

Excerpted from Donna St. George’s article for the Washington Post:

Federal officials are investigating allegations of discrimination against Asian American students in a suburban school system in Maryland where parents have complained that race was unlawfully used as a factor in magnet program admissions.

Parent leaders involved in the action allege that the school system — the state’s largest — discriminated against Asian American students while seeking greater racial balance in two sought-after middle school magnet programs.

They say the number of Asian American students invited into the programs fell 23 percent from 2016 to 2017, amid a wave of attention to diversity issues, and then dropped by 20 percent the next year after a new screening and selection process took effect.

“They have come up with an admissions process that has drastically reduced the chances that an Asian American student will be admitted,” said Siva Anantham, a father of three from Bethesda who submitted a 26-page request asking for federal action on behalf of Asian American families across the school system.

“We have a process that includes everyone,” said Derek Turner, spokesman for the system, calling the selection process for the magnet programs name blind and race blind.

Asian American parents in Montgomery say their concerns date to 2016, after the release of a report showing black and Hispanic students were less likely than whites and Asians to be chosen for a number of selective academic programs and to enroll in them. The studysuggested improving early talent development and changing the selection process.

Name blind and race blind…except, over the past two years, acceptance of Asian students into the program has dropped by almost half.  Can anyone possibly believe this?

Let’s think about the consequences of this policy:

-Since the number of students is unchanged, it means that every student who was moved ahead for reasons of race displaces a student who qualified for the program – and, thus, was moved behind for reasons of race – in this case, primarily Black and Hispanic students moved ahead of Asian students.

Will that improve or damage race relations?  You tell me.

-Does this benefit Black and Hispanic students?   Yes, in the sense that, however artificially, more of them will be placed in these programs.  But no, in the sense that an influx of Black and Hispanic students who, absent race, would not have qualified for the program, lowers the overall standing of the entire group.

Does this mean a higher percentage of Black and Hispanic students will be forced to drop out?  Or that the programs’ standards will be lowered to accommodate them?

Which of these alternatives is the good one.  Which benefits the students in these programs?  Which does anything but inflame racial tensions?

-What does this mean to Black and Hispanic students who truly qualified for the programs?  Will other students wonder whether even gifted Black or Hispanic students got there on merit?

Will it put a perpetual asterisk next to every Black and Hispanic student’s name (i.e. “did you really earn it?”)

Will qualified Black and Hispanic students resent less-qualified students, because their presence makes all Black and Hispanic students’ qualifications suspect?

Does this benefit or damage race relations?

We have talked about the consequence of such policies many times in this blog.  But it bears repeating again now:  you cannot solve racism by creating more of it.   That does not work.  It doesn’t lower racial tensions, it heightens them.

For the above reasons, this hasn’t worked in the past.  And, as is already being seen, it won’t work in Montgomery County, Maryland.

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