August 5, 2017

It's not blacks but the wealthy that are distorting college entrances

 Note: Back in the 1980s the Review recommended that affirmative action be changed to include zip code (i.e. income) as well as ethnicity and gender.

Washington Post - it’s not a vast crowd of black or brown people keeping white Americans out of the colleges of their choice, especially not the working-class white Americans among whom Trump finds his base of support. In fact, income tips the scale much more than race: At 38 top colleges in the United States, more students come from the top 1 percent of income earners than from the bottom 60 percent. Really leveling the admissions playing field, assuming the Trump administration actually cares about doing so, would involve much broader efforts to redistribute wealth and power. A focus on fringe campaigns against affirmative action suggests it does not.

Addressing inequalities in K-12 education, for instance, could help at-risk students of all races increase their chances of attending a top college — or any college at all. Policies such as property-tax-based funding for schools and the curiously slanted allocation of talented teachers (in Louisiana, for instance, a student in the poorest quartile of schools is almost three times as likely to be taught by an ineffective teacher as a student in the wealthiest quartile is) give a tremendous boost in college admissions to children from high-income families, often at the expense of their lower-income peers.

And right up to the application-writing doorstep, the beneficiaries of the biggest extra edge in admissions are more often than not the children of alumni. At Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Georgetown and Stanford universities, the acceptance rate for legacy applicants is between two and three times higher than the general admissions rate. Pressing universities to drop legacy preferences, following the example of other elite schools such as the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge, could free up spots for those without that built-in advantage. Trump’s own wealthy-parent-sponsored education at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by the subsequent admission of three of his four adult children, makes that particular initiative seem unlikely.

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