Same end, different means

Our February issue used research to argue that the elimination of all explicit or implicit racial preferences in admissions would contribute to racial reconciliation and, over the long run, help increase minority graduation rates and numbers.  This progressive analysis was attacked as “racist.”  We’ll get to the incredible ignorance of this attack later.  But first. . .

There’s something that readers must understand about conservatism in order to understand our point about racial preferences:  we desire the same ends as liberals but disagree with the means.  This is true of most things in conservatism.

For example, we want low-cost health care for everyone – which is exactly why we oppose a federal takeover of the system.  We want the poor to become richer, but we know from experience that massive redistribution and government-run industries only benefit politicians in the long run.  So making the rich poorer can actually be counterproductive.

When it comes to race, we disagree with the Left on the means of progress, but not the ends.  Conservatives reject the “white liberalism” of racial preferences, as writer Shelby Steele explains, because “in a liberalism that wants to redeem the nation of its past, minorities can only be ciphers in white struggles of conscience.”

So, the opposite of supporting racial preferences is not at all a desire to keep people down.  We argue that low expectations, implied or explicit, are roadblocks to more-true racial equality.  We say that these things keep people down.

That was the point of the February article.

While I’m disappointed that readers who thought we oppose racial/social/economic progress were so ignorant and reactionary, I understand their desire to have government level the playing field for groups of people who have, in the past, been extensively and unjustly oppressed simply for being in that group.

The real debate is, clearly, how best to level the playing field for everybody.

Our article argued that racial preferences do not help achieve this goal.  The knee-jerk reaction we received was probably due at least partially to the fact that we didn’t happen to run an article explaining how to effectively level the playing field in this particular issue.

We want to increase achievement instead of lowering standards, because research has shown that lowering standards is counterproductive.

The idea is that letting people into college who are less-qualified will not result in the breaking of the poverty cycle, which was a major rationale behind AA.  It will just result in letting people into college who are less-qualified.  Conservatives recognize that any qualification disparities among any groups of people that exist in the 21st century are the result of socioeconomic factors, like disparities in the quality of secondary education and disparities in the poverty rate.

Thus, the most effective way to level the playing field – to create equal opportunities for success – for college admissions would be to implement voucher programs nationwide.  This is because in the 21st century, the primary factor for getting in to college is preparation.

Instead of attending often-unsafe low-performing schools in urban centers, poor children would receive a higher-quality education at a school of the parents’ choice – at, as an added benefit for the fiscally conservative, a lower cost to taxpayers than that of public schools.

Other strategies, like an effective merit pay system for teachers, are good ideas.  We hope they are implemented, because increasing the quality of secondary education will do more to level the playing field than affirmative action ever will – especially in the 21st century.

How is this desire to increase access to education racist? It’s not, which is why I don’t expect any comments on this post. People just seem to like calling conservatives racists. It’s time for the Left to stop the name-calling and start fixing problems. Unfortunately, when it comes to national policy, leftist politicians and activists are only good at the former.

(Note:  if we really wanted to help people, we’d get the federal government out of education.  But that argument is for another post.)

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