Kia Franklin

Not Rich Enough, Not Brown Enough (Gettin’ Schooled… pt 2)

A father is suing the New York Department of Education for denying his daughter access to a city-run tutoring program called the Specialized High School Institute, which prepares gifted students from under-represented minority groups for a competitive exam used for admissions into Brooklyn's top high schools. They are Chinese American, and therefore ineligible for the program that recruits black, Latino, Pacific Islander, and Native American kids. Here's more information on the lawsuit, taken on by conservative advocacy group the Center for Individual Rights.

I am very comfortable saying that generally my politics diverge from CIR. For example, I am in favor of Affirmative Action (while recognizing its limitations). In this case, it is completely unfair that families that have ambitious and hard-working kids but few resources to prepare the kids for today's ever more competitive school environment, should be denied access to programs that provide those resources to disadvantaged groups. In other words it makes no sense that Rudy Huxtable would have gotten into this program, but not Punky Brewster (yes, I am an '80s kid).

So the lawsuit gets to the heart of the need for a more comprehensive look at structural inequality in our society. And this opens up the can-o-worms that is elitism (and the myth that we live in a meritocracy) itself. We've got these fifth graders and eighth graders freaking out over standardized tests and grades and going to camps to boost their resumes so that they can get into the best high school so that they can get into an elite college.

Look, I'm not saying every parent shouldn't want the best for their kid. I'm not saying that I didn't take advantage of every opportunity I had, either. It's just funny when you enter the real world and you are faced with the cold hard fact that all of these opportunities essentially amount to access to a network. You may be brilliant as the stars above, but if you didn't go to an Ivy League school, you have to work nine times harder to get that credibility. And if you are from one of these "underrepresented" minority groups, even if you did go to Harvard, you still have the deck stacked against you.

I would love to see this case turn into a national conversation about privilege and power structures. But it won't. It didn't get there at the Supreme Court level, and I will bet it won't now. It will turn into pitting poor and middle class people who can't afford the prep schools and special programs, against groups that face racial discrimination based on their color and/or certain cultural attributes. And of course many people belong to both groups. And of course many who fit into one aren't included in the other, but should be. It's a mess.

And the lawsuit hinges on some serious issues that I sure hope aren't reduced to a simplistic and superficial fight against "reverse racism" (oh, how I cringe at the very idea that racism is only "supposed" to go in one direction, and is particularly appalling when it reverses it's "proper" course). Unfortunately, hope don't pay the bills.

This quote from the father who initiated the suit, found in the NY Post, puts it best: "It's not something that I take lightly," he said. "There are many Asian and white kids in this district who can't pay for tutoring. What is their recourse?"

Kia Franklin: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 1:23 PM, Nov 21, 2007 in Discrimination | Education | In the News
Permalink | Email to Friend


Crazy stuff.

If memory serves, didn't some Wall Street executive get in trouble for falsely inflating a company's financial profile in order to get his kid into the right pre-school?

Kia, you're absolutely right: We've long since passed the time of a meritocracy in America, and success is more about who you know than what you know.

Posted by: Justinian Lane | November 21, 2007 1:48 PM

Wow--I don't think I heard about that. Wouldn't be surprised though! Funny thing is that it seems like the way we uphold this false meritocracy is by saying that the people who know the right things, are smartest, most hardworking, etc., just happen to also all know one other. So by default, the who's have it and it's okay to be an elitist.

Posted by: Kia | November 21, 2007 2:30 PM

This is a good choice for the delusional left to which both of you belong, and which controls government for its own rent seeking interests.

If one accepts the superiority of Asians on IQ tests, one has a rational basis to exclude from this remedial program, on the basis of ethnic origin.

If one refuses to admit the consistent superior performance of Asians on tests, then this lawsuit has merit, because it excludes for race without a rational basis. It is a de jure exclusion. The burden lies on the left wing government entity to rebut a discriminatory intent.

I support a class declaration. I support exemplary damages sufficient to bankrupt the PC, left wing dominated NYC Board of Ed. To deter.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | November 21, 2007 2:56 PM

What?... It's not a remedial program, it's a program for kids who are doing really well in school to help them take the exam to get into elite high schools.

Anyway, I reject both of the choices you offer (either "accept the superiority of Asians on IQ tests", or "refuse to admit the consistent superior performance of Asians") for a number of reasons, but primarily because we're not talking about IQ tests or racial intellectual superiority/inferiority. This is about opportunity and how programs should be designed to provide "disadvantaged" groups opportunity and who should be targeted in those programs. And more importantly it's about the trouble with linking opportunity to an elitist structure without critiquing elitism itself.


Posted by: Kia | November 21, 2007 3:33 PM

Was the child excluded based on her race?

From Title VI.

"Sec. 2000d. Prohibition against exclusion from participation in, denial of benefits of, and discrimination under federally assisted programs on ground of race, color, or national origin

No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

She was. Those are the choices, based on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Please, do not try to evade the claim with irrelevancies and masking ideology.

She can be excluded because her group is superior, on a rational basis test. Or, she cannot be excluded if you believe, all groups have the same innate abilities. Those are the choices for the left wing land pirate oligarchs running this country.

As to elitism, as to a reverse meritocracy, I want Justinian to support ending the self-dealt immunities of the land pirate. They belong to a class of incompetents. The land pirates should be sued, prosecuted, and excluded by lawyer control statutes from the control of the three branches of government. As the convicted felon is excluded from responsible position, so should anyone who has passed 1L, being far more corrupt and dangerous than the convicted felon.

The law is in utter failure in every self-stated goal of every law subject. Land pirate control is an upside down meritocracy. Only lawyer who are failures, but loyal criminal cult enterprise members, get to make policy. All land pirate policy decision is quite mistaken. It serves only one successful aim, the seeking of the rent.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | November 21, 2007 4:30 PM

SC: let's really try to stay on-topic. Every single blog post on tort deform is not about and does not relate to "self-dealt immunities" or "land-pirates." Ok?

Secondly, no doubt this is a racial discrimination claim. That's understood. But what it is not about is any assumptions about any racial group's intellectual superiority/inferiority. These programs aren't about helping the kids who are intellectually inferior. Maybe it's easy to make that logical leap, though, if you believe that race correlates with intelligence or that intelligence correlates with opportunity.

Now, I'm off to go seek rent.

Posted by: Kia | November 21, 2007 6:14 PM

There's never a bad time to review the definition of rent seeking.

The rich lobby government to take money and power from productive, working people, and to transfer it to themselves, at the point of a gun.

The opposite is profit seeking. In profit seeking, a product or service provider adds value, gets compensated by a profit. So the rent on an apartment is profit seeking. A tax in exchange for a road or protection from Al Qaeda is profit seeking by government workers.

In rent seeking, there is a gun of government, a payment to the privileged rent seeker, and nothing in exchange. So lawyer hyper-proceduralism, generating massive lawyer employment, unjust enrichment, usurpation of citizen powers, combined with the utter failure of all self-stated goals of every law subject, that's rent seeking. Straight armed robbery.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | November 22, 2007 11:45 AM