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Race Norming

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Category: History Other

Autor: anton 03 December 2010

Words: 3814 | Pages: 16

Is Race Forming is a just means for providing equity in higher education?

I. Introduction:

The United States of America has always been known as a sort of "melting pot." It defined itself as a place of opportunity in which people of all religions, races and national origins could escape persecution and find opportunity. American history began with myriads of immigrants, each group bringing their own cultures and traditions to this new world. It seems that today the trend is toward multiculturalism rather than assimilation. The old "melting pot" metaphor is giving way to new metaphors such as "salad bowl" or "gumbo." The nation is working as one but with each distinct taste in tact. For this reason, we enjoy a diverse population that makes America what it is, however we do face additional challenges. Upon study of our educational system, we recognize a rift that is continuing to divide this nation. There are levels of inequality that seem to grow with each year. What is the cause of this divide? How can we ensure opportunity for all people? Is race norming a just means for providing equity in higher education?

The globalization of economic and technological factors has produced a world in which long-defined boarders are eroding and community is building. A lack of diversity in higher education is a grave disservice to the students that it is designed to serve and prepare. We divided into two groups of two students each to debate this topic. We defined our terms to cater not only to statistical and empirical data, but also from an ethical standpoint. Is it possible to combat discrimination with targeted preference? Throughout this paper, we will attempt to shed light on this topic and show that there is no "black and white" answer, but rather shades of gray that further obscure this perplexing topic.

II. Race Norming is not a just means for providing equity in higher education:

This country has always been defined by the tolerance and opportunity that it affords. These fundamental freedoms are the basis of democracy and the foundation of our Constitution. The nation faced an early dilemma when promoting freedom and equality while simultaneously allowing slavery. The rift that resulted in this call to consciousness set the stage for distrust and inequality that lingered and arguably still haunts us today. In 1954, the United States Supreme Court ruled decisively that equality should be extended to the public school systems (Cornell). The "separate but equal" status quo failed to provide equitable learning environments and appropriately outlawed segregation. Justice Thurgood Marshall stated that "distinctions by race are so evil, so arbitrary, and so invidious that a state, bound to guarantee the equal protection of the laws, must not invoke them in any public sphere" (Cornell). These words ring as true today as they ever have. Preferences based on race or national origin the advantages that are offered for a specific target group become disadvantages for a non-preferred group. Simply increasing the number of target groups does not make the situation more fair. This cannot warrant abandoning true equality.

This argument becomes problematic, however when institutions begin to factor in the history of our country. Admittedly our nation has made grave mistakes in our quest for equality. Hence, there is much room for redress and a proper remedy. If we choose to grant reciprocity on the basis of race, we indirectly discriminate against non-protected groups. Amends should also be aimed at people who were actually affected by discrimination rather than those who only share a national origin or skin color. Such ill-conceived reciprocity becomes potentially over-inclusive since people receive benefits that they may not necessarily deserve. Good motives do not make something just.

The inferiority of minority groups is a lie that is brought about by bigots and ignorance. If we grant preference on the basis or race, we create the link that leads to the belief that some races are inferior. Race norming gives advantages to people of protected classes, but hurt them likewise. Preference results in awarding persons on the grounds that are not relevant to their duties or studies. This, in turn, relates to the stereotyping of inferiority which becomes reinforced by the devices meant to support minorities. Preferences lead to jealousy, entitlement and confusion. Race norming gives advantage to students who are ill-prepared, which then causes them to suffer through performance. These students often fail in their course work and this just gives further justification to bigotry. "It is a statistical certainty that students admitted to a college or university with credentials that are diluted by considerations have nothing to do with intellectual attainment or promise will do relatively inferior work in their courses" (Cohen).

Standardized testing is one of the key components to admittance of applicants to colleges and universities. "Standardized testing was once championed as a way to "level the playing field, to evaluate candidates on their merit alone. Racism, it was hoped, would die out because selections would be made on objective criteria" (Campbell). Blacks and Hispanics continued to perform below their white counterparts on these standardized tests. In turn, universities began setting the bar lower for minorities. The focus was placed on reactive strategy rather than a proactive one. The real question that we should be asking ourselves is why are minorities scoring lower, and how can we better prepare them for higher education? The answer to this question is much more complex than merely adjusting admissions standards. "Americans have created the extent and type of inequality that we have, and Americans maintain it" (Fischer). To truly correct the incongruities, we must look to our society rather than just covering the social wound with a band-aid.

"Two stereotypes that can be found everywhere in American culture are the "dumb jock," brawny and stupid, and the weak, bespectacled "science nerd" (Jones). The "dumb jock" stereotype is one of the most well known in America. "Athletic talent and physical strength are, as a physiological fact, statistically associated with superior intellectual performance" (Cohen). When institutions began to recruit heavily based on athletic ability alone, the result was most often that admissions standards were lowered and students with poor reading and writing skills were admitted on the basis of preference. This kind of thinking yielded a myriad of athletes that could not make the grade in the classroom. The perception of athletes was inverted when students concluded that athletes are in need of admissions preference. This is unfair to all athletes and continues to yield the same results for protected groups. It is easy for ignorant students to label someone as a "race norming" or affirmative action case due to the color of another student's skin. This is easier than targeting athletes and for these reasons, norming will hurt the classes that it is meant to protect.

This country has been a place of refuge for individuals and groups seeking religious and social freedom. Every group that has come to the United States has had to overcome social, language, prejudicial and financial barriers. The acceptance and resilience to these factors have made each group stronger and reinforced the idea of a "land of opportunity." Preference leads to complacency and weakens the people that it is meant to lift up. It allows bigots to second-guess and question the validity of achievement and to place excuses in the place of admission of a specific group's place within the social and economic spectrum.

Institutions have long prided themselves on increasing minority enrollment rates and producing a pluralistic environment that mimics the diversity found in the workplace. They feel pressured to hide the corruption of their admissions practiced when under public scrutiny. Such preferences compromise the integrity of the organization and dis-integrate the student body. Racial categories and divisions reinforce divisive inclination for students to dine, socialize and interact according to their race. Further division is even evident between groups of protected groups because a desire to maintain and protect their status. The issue of race is often so highly charged that additional tension leads to distrust between groups. The institutionalization of preference makes it so taboo that students are afraid to communicate openly about it.

Although race norming has noble intent, it is not a just way to achieve equity in higher education. The practice weakens the groups that it is meant to support. It tries to assign a quick-fix to deep social problems that we face. It allows people to sleep easily at night through all of these problems because they feel like they are actually doing something about it, when in all actuality; they are enabling injustice and discrimination. As Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts once said, "the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." He went on to state that "preferment by race, when resorted to by the state, can be the most divisive of all policies, containing within it the potential to destroy confidence in the Constitution and the idea of equality" (Will). We can not combat discrimination with discriminatory practices. There are tough questions that we must face as a country that will require more than a measure such as race norming to rectify. Race norming is not a just means for providing equity in higher education.

III. Race Norming is a just means for providing equity in higher education

Racial inequality in higher education has become a serious dilemma for educational institutions in present years. The issue of whether or not race norming is a just means for providing equity in higher education has baffled law makers and higher education institutions since it was first introduced in the 1950's. According to supporters, the idea race norming reduces the disparity by adjusting scores on an equal test by using separate points systems for different ethnic groups. Based on the fact that America has become a melting pot for different racial groups, race norming is said to be the solution to the educational gap that exists between majority groups and minority groups.

The diverse social structure of the U.S creates a society where people have different sets of skills and background experiences based on their cultural tendencies. This creates the necessity of a program that aids racial groups with a more reduce set of skills so they can compete for entry to higher educational institutions. One of the main reasons why race norming is a just means for providing equity in higher education is because every individual has a distinct past, living environment, and life experience. In addition, without race norming an environment of discrimination against minority will emerge once again. Furthermore, it is statically proven that an educational gap in education exist between majorities groups and minorities groups.

The history of this country involves discrimination of minorities, further fueling the problem of racial educational inequality that exists in the country presently. An ideal world would offer the same type of education, thus creating a utopia where admission exams of higher education institutions would be a great tool to judge individuals. Since we do not live in that utopia, there needs to be race norming so that minorities have a chance to enter in the most prestigious universities despite their differences.

Race norming is a just mean to provide equality in higher education because every individual has a distinct past, living environment, and life experience. According to the academic class model brought forth by William Thompson and Joseph Hickey in 2005, five different classes exist in the U.S: the first is the upper class with 1% of the population an average yearly income of 500,000 and an Ivy league education, the second is the upper middle class with 15% of the population an average yearly income of $100,000 and a graduate degree education, the third is the lower middle class with 32% of the population an average yearly income of $75,000 and a college degree education, the forth is the lower middle class with 32% of the population an average yearly income of $30,000 and a high school education, the last is the lower middle class with 20% of the population an average yearly income of $16,000 and some high school education (Hickey, Thompson).

This model shows the distinct differences in income and education between the social classes in the U.S, most minorities fall in the last two classes. This is a key point because people who are in the higher classes tend to send their children to private school for high school, and people in the lower classes tend to send their children to public schools. This creates a difference because public schools have a lower budget to work with, forcing them to buy the cheapest supplies and equipment. Additionally, public schools hire relatively new teachers who are not as experienced or not as qualified because they do not have the means to hire better teachers. On the other hand, individuals who go to private schools get to learn with the best books in the market and the latest equipment. They also have teachers who are very experienced and from prestigious universities because these schools can afford the best teacher money can buy. These factors create an inequality when two individuals with these two distinct realities go and take a proficiency exam to enter college. In addition, most minorities speak a first language that is not English. Since the proficiency exams are in English most minorities have this disadvantage to overcome when taking the exam. The lack of choices in proficiency exams creates a bias for minorities because these are exams that are in a second language to them.

The second reason why Race norming is a just mean to provide equality in higher education is because an environment of discrimination against minority will emerge once again. "Regardless of overt principles, people in position of power are likely to hire people they already know or people of similar backgrounds" (Guinier). In other words, admission counselors from all the higher education institutions are mostly part of majority groups, meaning that given to choose between people who are from their same race or someone from a difference race human nature will almost always make them lean towards the individual who is part of the majority group. This mentality creates a disparity for minorities because above all the social issues they have to face even if they do as good as a person of a majority group in an exam, the decision maker will be that the person with the similar race as the admission counselor will get the position. One is not saying that all the admission counselors are part of a majority group, but most are making it hard for people of minorities to compete with individuals from majority groups. Moreover, according to Lani Guinier;

"The main concern without Race Norming is that as long as colleges and universities obscure the criteria on which they admit students, the elite are free to choose themselves and then legitimate those choices with a critical mass of people of color." (Guinier)

This is a very important issue to pay attention to because if this trend continues in the future than the disparity between the majorities and minorities will increase. As long as race norming does not get implemented in all the universities the gap will just keep getting bigger and bigger because many minorities students will not have a chance to attend universities because they cannot compete with individuals from the majority. This trend will go on to their children and their grandchildren thus continuing the trend.

The third reason race norming is a just mean to provide equality in higher education is because it is statically proven that an educational gap in lower education exist between majorities groups and minorities groups. According to John Rosenberg on an article he posted on June 2003, students in the top 10% of poor high schools are frequently much less well prepared for college than students in, say, the top tenth to twentieth percentile of much stronger high schools. This proves the point that it is simply unjust to test individuals equally because every individual could have been taught in distinct educational institutes. Race norming grants two individuals with completely different backgrounds the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of probably the same exact efforts. According to the US Department of Education (NCES), the percentage distribution for admission at a 4 year institution by race and ethnicity were the following: 68% of White people censured are qualified to go to college, 46% of the Black people censured are qualified to go to college and lastly 53%

Hispanics are qualified to go to college. In a similar chart the results were equally shocking. This chart was made in 2002 by the College Board which is the profile of College Bound Seniors mean SAT scores by race and ethnicity. These charts show that White students have a combined score of 1060 on the SAT, on the other hand African American have a combined scored of 857 while Latin-Americans have a combined score of 922 (NCES). This once again shows that there is an obvious inequality among races and Race norming aims at balancing the opportunities for each racial group. According to the college board in the past 18 years there has been a slight improvement in the combined SAT scores of both white and black, but the gap between these two race groups has actually increase during time. This means that even though both groups have are doing well overall, the gap between their scores has actually increased in the past years. According to the College Board an important factor in explaining the persistent racial scoring gap in the SAT there is a lower participation in the advanced subjects in high schools by minorities groups, thus making minorities not as well prepared as the majority group to score high in the SAT. Another statistic by the College Board states that almost no blacks have SAT scores equal to the median scores of whites at the highest ranked universities, in fact white outnumber blacks at the highest scoring levels by about forty to one. This makes it clear the disparity that exists among majorities and minorities. This is why is critical for the law makers to instate a program such as Race Norming to level the chances for everyone to get in a university.

The last reason why Race norming is a just means to provide equality in higher education is because there has been a significant amount of past historical discrimination. As Richard Delgado mentions in his book Saving Affirmative Action & A Process for Elites to choose Elites, "due to past events minorities were severely limited to educational opportunities and job experiences". It would not be just to test distinct ethnic groups or races with one same exam because some races were greatly affected by past situations. There is historical evidence that some races were simply denied the ability to attend a quality educational institution based on their race, they had to settle for what ever was available, but most couldn't even go to school making today's generations have a disadvantage. Race norming simply aims at trying to level the damage that was caused in the past. Another important factor that goes against minorities is that universities usually have a preference for sons of alumni. Generally speaking, most alumni are usually Caucasian's so by having this preference they would be widening the gap even more and ultimately continue to affect the minorities

Race norming is necessary in out society because the world is not a perfect place with same conditions for every single human being. Every one on this planet has had varying life experiences and living environments. Furthermore, Race norming will help to slow down the discrimination against the minorities. It has been proven that people in power are most likely to hire people of similar backgrounds. If Race Norming didn't exist their chances of getting in are diminished greatly. In addition, there are numerous statistics that clearly show that the Caucasian race has historically gotten better scores on the SAT but most likely because they have better schools or systems so it would be un just to ask a minority race to get the same score. Lastly, unfortunately minority races such as African Americans or Hispanics have had to deal with past historical discriminations. Race Norming aims at leveling the field for all to compete fairly.

IV. Conclusion

Race norming has been a highly charged subject since it was first implemented in the middle of the 20th century. It was conceived to combat discriminatory practices. Race norming was thought to be the solution for this problem and the answer to the disparities that exist in the school system today. After investigating one can see that Race norming is just an immediate but temporary mask for an immense and growing problem. Race norming does not solve the inequality problem, but rather disguises it. To resolve this issue would not be a matter of just creating a solution that will be immediate, but rather implement a plan that will gradually start to close the gap that exists between minority and majority groups. Society needs to look to the future and develop equitable school systems and learning environments from the earliest points of contact. The people of this nation need to be educated on the inequality that exists among school districts. We need to invest in our future as a nation and remember the ideas that founded and built this nation into a global leader. It is a combination of the multiple viewpoints and common vision that pull us together. Although the motives are noble, race norming does not advocate equality. It serves as a bandage that hides a deeper wound. A wound that can be fatal if we fail to confront it head on.

V. Works Cited

Fischer, C., Hout, M., Sanchez Jankowski, M., & Lucas, S. (1996).

Inequality by design: Cracking the Bell Curve Myth. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Cornell University, Supreme Court Cases in Alphabetical Order.

Retrieved August 1, 2007, from Cornell School of Law

Web site:

Campbell, David. "Striving for Equality." The Harvard Silent 13 OCT 1999 24 AUG 2007.

Jones, Todd. "The dumb jock and the science nerd - stereotypes associated with thinking - The Popular Condition - Column." Humanist SEP OCT 1996 .

Cohen, Carl (2007).Favoritism in admissions does not serve a

greater good. Currents. XXXIII, 36-46.

Will, George F. The court returns to Brown. (2007, July 5). The

Washington Post, p. A17.

Guinier, Lani. "Saving Affirmative Action." Village Voice July 2008 .

Bynum, Jack E. and William E. Thompson. Juvenile Delinquency: A

Sociological Approach, Sixth Edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2005.

The National Center for Education Statistics, Statistical Data. Retrieved August 1, 2007 from the NCES website

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