Education and discrimination

Fernando Mendez | 8/3/2017, 9:59 a.m.
Education and discrimination

While many individuals of good will, institutions, political leaders and foundations attempt to address the failures of our educational system, there are other forces at work to impede progress, equality and fairness. Every time the issue of discrimination is raised there are different opinions regarding how it affects students in their college applications. Education is not a priority for our government that prefers to spend more and more money building our atomic weapons arsenals, building faster airplanes for our airfare or modernizing the navy and the army. We have already established our superiority many times over.

The US Department of Justice is investigating the application of affirmative action in college admissions. It seems that political correctness or the desire to right past wrongs have had an adverse effect on the application process discriminating against white applicants. There are good reasons to help minority applicants who have suffered discrimination in the past. To begin with, our public schools in the barrios or in poor neighborhoods in general are not doing their job. Thus, many minority students receive a High School diploma without the proper preparation. Private schools have done a better job and in recent years charter schools have helped minority students to improve their scores and their preparation for SATs and college entrance exams. Unfortunately, much too often we have heard of college athletes who must take remedial courses in order to attend college. Many of them lack the most basic skills because they have been protected by coaches and athletic departments who might be interested only in recruiting high caliber athletes. Those young men and women are left with no options if they suffer injuries that impede their participation in sports. Even when they somehow manage to get through college few athletes make it to the professional leagues in order to earn a living.

The US Supreme Court has ruled that universities may use of affirmative action admission policies, but it rejected racial quotas. That could be a bit confusing to admission officers. The colleges should be applying equal opportunity principles, accepting applications without regard to race, national origin, gender, etc. Perhaps the court’s rulings should be less ambiguous, leaving no room for the kind of discrimination that has denied admission to qualified white applicants. For immigrants from Latin America one of the first surprises is to find application forms that have a line for RACE. Most of us have never thought about race and most of us come from mixed racial backgrounds. The Spanish conquistadores did not discriminate against their slaves as far as procreation. They were more like Jefferson in that sense. Most of us descend from Spanish conquistadors, indians, slaves from Africa, and other races. New census forms contain multiple choices for immigrants in the line about race. This nation has been, and continues to be, a country of immigrants. Some wrongs have been righted as far as minorities in this country.

Discriminating against white applicants is as wrong as discrimination against minorities. Colleges must respect the principles enshrined in our constitution.

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