you can't help the disadvantaged by refusing to engage in critical thinking
This analysis is rigorous and thoroughly argued. My only question is whether affirmative action for race alone w/o SES is valuable to serve as representation. Remember the article about the 3-yr old AA girl standing gazing at the portrait of Michelle Obama in awe? That little girl can gaze up at someone who looks like her and think unconsciously, "that could be me."
So case in point in my family. My husband's brother (white) is married to a first generation Mexican American. Their two daughters were raised with every privilege Freddie points to in this analysis. They were *groomed* for college from the start: fancy private schools, club sports, tutors, etc. And they both went to elite colleges and are lovely, independent young women. The older daughter actually had legacy from their dad's side AND the race factor from their mother's side. You can just picture the university drooling, right? These young women were going to be fine wherever they went. Why should they get the benefit of affirmative action?
But let's zoom out for a minute. My Mexican American SIL is one of the most amazing, resilient people I know. Her parents were working class. Her mother died when she was 9-years old and her dad married a woman with 5 kids of her own, so there was a blended family. My SIL didn't get along so well with her step-mother and was kicked out of the house at 19-years old and managed to put herself through nursing school. On her side, her daughters are the first ones to go to a 4-yr college in the family. So maybe these women serve as role models for the cousins growing up behind them? Maybe they serve as role models for other Latina teens who can picture themselves now going to college?
We had this debate in my family recently b/c there was a referendum recently here in California to try to re-institute race for affirmative action for the public colleges and universities. It was ultimately defeated (here in CA- a very blue state), which should tell you how the general public views all this critical race theory stuff. I ultimately voted no b/c these institutions are already allowed to factor in class (which in the end serves as a better marker for true affirmative action for race as Freddie points out) and I think the critical race theory stuff has gone too far. In addition, I think such a policy would be biased and discriminatory against Asians.
All this energy we spend talking about the SAT while Jared Kushner's dad buys his mediocre son a spot at Harvard. Can you imagine if legacy/donor/lacrosse player admissions didn't exist and the Ivy League schools suddenly all proposed a change: they were gonna let rich people buy their way in?
It's genuinely astounding that leftist energy on this subject is focused anywhere else. We do not have to dive into a pile of numbers on a hunt for abstract forms of injustice. Harvard's administration is absolutely thrilled that we've decided to spend our time on this nonsense instead of building a campaign to end non-academic admissions.
My brother and I both have ADD (it expresses very differently, but we both have it). In my case, I managed to get decent grades all throughout school but never really learned how to cope with the condition or how to manage my workload in a more productive way, or how to find activities or jobs that matched my abilities... I just learned how to work hard and get A minuses.
My brother wasn't even able to get passing grades without drugs. After a while, he was able to get very good grades with the drugs, but in the end, he couldn't keep it up.
Both of us now have jobs that match our actual potential and abilities to varying extents, but we're both unsatisfied because we worked so hard at trying to achieve "more."
Both of us were completely underserved by a system based on the false liberal premise that getting grades up fixes your life, and also that if your grades are up, your life is fixed. As many will say, liberals believe in education because if you're not a socialist, education the only solution that your limited imagination can think of.
My brother and I are white ashkenazis and I can only imagine how much more destructive and burnout-inducing this system is for people who have fewer opportunities than us.
"But I find it very disheartening how progressives routinely dismiss the excellence achieved by Asian students from socioeconomically and ethnically marginalized backgrounds - precisely the type of excellence you would expect them to celebrate."
I came to the US at age 9 in 1965 knowing no English. But was the beneficiary, at that time, of schools that had overwhelmingly (almost exclusive) English speaking students--and only English. My parents never learned English.
In the years since, I have noticed that when I tell people that, there are some people who almost resent it and are skeptical: I know English a little too well for someone from that background. And I have noticed that to a person, each of those people has been progressive/social liberals.
Those high-performing Asian kids (and me, to a minor extent) traduce the catechism of victimology. And within the progressive moral economy, the victim is the most venerated of figures, always acted upon, but never acting. Unsullied by agency.
I have a friend who just completed his doctoral studies in higher education, and his thesis addressed the cultural experiences of Black students at a very prominent Southern university that is mostly white. He found these students were sent into a crisis of identity (he is a Black man who attended that mostly white prominent Southern university as an undergrad) and there are virtually no support resources for them to deal with it. Some of the students, having come from Black neighborhoods, had never actually been around so many white people before, and the experience was highly disorienting to say the least.
So on top of the stresses of 1) leaving home for the first time, 2) adjusting to the rigors of college, 3) going through the age-appropriate development of sexuality and individuality, these students are dealing not just with potential discrimination or feeling like outsiders, but the unique experience of grappling with their Blackness and what it means to them in their context. Again, without support. Not to mention the family of origin worries that come along with being a lower-income, Black student that higher-income White students don't have to deal with.
The desire to ignore the implications of SAT scores isn't going to address the problems and inequities indicated by lower performance. And ignoring the SAT scores may simply erase focus on the lower-performing students and their needs.
None of this acknowledges that there are outliers in every statistical analysis. What's being done to get the outliers in a pipeline to the resources and highest-level educational opportunities? We can't all be exceptional, by definition, and the focus on raising the tide for all boats should only be one prong in the movement toward equity.
One other point is relevant. The "college success" metric used in many studies lump together different majors and courses with radically different content and difficulty. From what I've seen of data on individual courses, admissions tests are even better predictors than one would think from the inappropriately lumped success metrics.
As I've mentioned before, Freddie's arguments also apply to GREs and grad school, at least in physics.
See: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHEvLUxTWGsAjNjR3epRiQw (talk)
or https://arxiv.org/abs/1902.09442 (arxiv paper with references to published papers by me an others)
or https://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2020/12/14/debate-involving-a-bad-analysis-of-gre-scores/ (Andrew Gelman's take on the issue, with extensive discussions)
What are the axes on the graph under "The perceived SES effect in SAT scores is a parental education effect." ? I'm not clear on what that chart is showing.
I am unclear why you are spending time on this when far more serious issues in education are not being addressed, specifically the pervasiveness of dangerous items that children are bringing to school daily (paperclips, google it) and pencils and pens (weapons, google it). And yes i am being ironic, originally from the Greek eironeia, that is, simulated ignorance, which i wouldn't have known had i not had teachers that insisted on rigor in thought and in my developing the ability to think critically. I found, even then, that the teachers who were most insistent on my learning to reason, cared most deeply for me. I watched them closely. I could see no indications of racism or sexism in them, only a fierce hatred of human insistence on remaining ignorant and a deep love of the capacity in every one of their students to become a thinking being.
Great shout on URI Talent Development. After 20+ years working in and around high schools in the Providence Public Schools it is maybe the one consistent success. My wife and I worked in a Gates small school era high school that for a while was sending a quarter to a third of the school straight into TD with great success. And then was summarily closed when Race to the Top started. Anyhow... TD survives and is a great service to kids in this community.
Also appreciate your perspective on the successes of lower-income Asian immigrants. My daughters attended a public elementary school in South Providence that quietly outperforms the other public elementaries (outside College Hill). At one point I looked at the data and in whatever year it was their mostly low-income Southeast Asian immigrant students were outperforming the elementary age Asian students in the top suburban districts.
I brought this up to some of the teachers in the school and other people in the community and it was basically un-parseable data. There was no particular program of focus whatsoever on the Asian students in the predominantly Hispanic school, and it didn't quite seem like something that would be appropriate to praise the school for. One bit of possibly explanatory data I found is that the Asian students reported feeling more safe and comfortable in that school than they did outside of school in general.
Freddie, you might be interested to know that philosophy prof Brian Leiter is soliciting comments on this post on his blog: https://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2021/05/sat-scores-and-socioeconomic-class.html#comments.
FWIW, I don't think Leiter is trying to incite a pile-on; if anything, I would bet that he thinks Freddie is probably right, but wants to be sure before he accepts Freddie's conclusions.
Here's the conclusion of my arXiv paper on GREs, obviously omitted from the peer-reviewed version of the technical aspects:
The issue of how our profession should choose its new members faces a variety of not always parallel social goals and is fraught with uncertainties. Despite these difficulties, finding the best
selection method is trivial in one limiting case. If we do not try to maintain minimal standards
of competence and transparency or even basic logic in our treatment of data, then the
optimum group of students whom we should be educating is the empty set