Bad intelligence

I’m sympathetic to people who appear uninformed or confused on any given issue, generally. I no longer do a whole lot of ranting on the “stupidity of the American electorate” because more and more I realize it takes a certain amount of work and time just to find a complete set of facts, let alone make the connections between the various actors and what the ultimate goal might be. It’s easy to say “they’re all watching American Idol” or whatever, but even if they aren’t, even if they’re making some good-faith effort to stay informed (in addition to all the other things they have to do) this stuff is complicated. There are layers.

This is a story on an affirmative action lawsuit, from propublica:

“There were people in my class with lower grades who weren’t in all the activities I was in, who were being accepted into UT, and the only other difference between us was the color of our skin,” she says. “I was taught from the time I was a little girl that any kind of discrimination was wrong. And for an institution of higher learning to act this way makes no sense to me. What kind of example does it set for others?”
It’s a deeply emotional argument delivered by an earnest young woman, one that’s been quoted over and over again.
Except there’s a problem. The claim that race cost Fisher her spot at the University of Texas isn’t really true.
In the hundreds of pages of legal filings, Fisher’s lawyers spend almost no time arguing that Fisher would have gotten into the university but for her race.
If you’re confused, it is no doubt in part because of how Blum, Fisher and others have shaped the dialogue as the case worked its way to the country’s top court.
Journalists and bloggers have written dozens of articles on the case, including profiles of Fisher and Blum. News networks have aired panel after panel about the future of affirmative action. Yet for all the front-page attention, angry debate and exchanges before the justices, some of the more fundamental elements of the case have been little reported.
Race probably had nothing to do with the University of Texas’s decision to deny admission to Abigail Fisher.

In an interview last month, Blum agreed Fisher’s credentials and circumstances make it difficult to argue — as he and his supporters have so ardently in public — that but for her race Fisher would have been a Longhorn.
“There are some Anglo students who had lower grades than Abby who were admitted also,” Blum told ProPublica. “Litigation like this is not a black and white paradigm.”
Blum started his one-man nonprofit, the Project on Fair Representation, in 2005. The organization is funded by deep-pocketed conservatives to, according to its website, influence “jurisprudence, public policy, and public attitudes regarding race and ethnicity” in voting, education, contracting and employment. To do so, Blum — who is not a lawyer — helps arrange pro bono representation to fight race-based policies that were meant to address inequalities.
According to a Reuters profile, Blum has brought at least a dozen lawsuits against such programs and laws — including four that made it to the Supreme Court. He has two on the current docket, Fisher and the Shelby County, Ala., case challenging a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

So the facts were incomplete or skewed as reported-take your pick-probably leading anyone hearing about the case to believe this applicant was denied admission because of her race. The listener or reader would believe that because that’s what she says: she says the “only other difference between us was the color of our skin”. That’s not true. Further, this case is part of a broader strategy by the same group of people who are challenging the Voting Rights Act, and the ultimate goal of Mr. Blum and his conservative and libertarian backers is this:

So while the Fisher case has been billed as a referendum on affirmative action, its backers have significantly grander ambitions: They seek to make the case a referendum on the 14th Amendment itself.

Would any of this additional information change how people perceive the voting rights case or the affirmative action case if they heard about it on their car radio? I don’t know. I do know they’d have to put quite a bit of time in to even know what’s going on here, who the players are, and where they’re going with this.

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96 replies
  1. 1
    Zifnab says:

    Would any of this additional information change how people perceive the voting rights case or the affirmative action case if they heard about it on their car radio?

    Radio news is virtually dead. You’ve got your AM mouth-breathers, your DJ-reads-headlines-and-makes-jokes-between-songs, and NPR. Beyond that, i think there is a sizable chunk of the population that would simply turn the channel if they started hearing news that conflicted with their prevailing world view. “Girl sues UT because she says her race prevented her admission” gets applause from a certain group of xenophobes and bigots. But break the narrative, and you’ll get the Katy Couric treatment for asking too many “gotcha questions”.

    That’s why those AM guys do so incredibly well. They have their audience and they feed up fresh red meat day after day after day.

  2. 2
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    In an interview last month, Blum agreed Fisher’s credentials and circumstances make it difficult to argue — as he and his supporters have so ardently in public — that but for her race Fisher would have been a Longhorn.

    Yet the MSM can’t be bothered to report this.

    AT ALL.

    Because apparently, it’s cool to be a stone racist, like Blum.

    Oh, and “Libertarians” want to undermine the 14th Amendment itself? If you actually WERE in favor of personal liberty for the broadest number of Americans, you’d be a full throated supporter of the 14th Amendment, and absolutist about it, in fact.

    “Libertarians” are, pure and simple, neofeudalists. They want the maximum liberty for their little inbred cult, and no one else.

    People like this were given to us by FSM for tumbrel rides.

  3. 3
    Todd says:

    Here in our Awesome Meritocracy, the C average son of the scions of wealth and privilege always get admitted to the ivy league schools or the flagship party schools. The sons of everybody else have to be extremely talented, or wind up stuck with community college.

  4. 4
    Walker says:

    Despite the state’s best efforts otherwise, UT is a top quality state institution. If you are at another university, recruiting students from Texas is hard because of the Top 10% program. Why go elsewhere when you get guaranteed admission in state for low tuition.

    And there in lies the problem with her case. The year she applied, there were 892 slots left available after the 10% (which she definitely was not in given her low scores). It is very doubtful she would have been admitted that year – unless her family donated a building or something.

  5. 5
    Eric U. says:

    that’s just a heart-warming story. 182 black and latino students with grades the same or better than little miss racist tool were rejected. Of those students with worse grades than LMRT, 5 black or latino students with worse grades were admitted, and 42 white students were admitted. And she turned down an offer to get in as a sophomore. Public shaming is called for in this case, particularly of the guy who is funding the effort.

  6. 6
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    My daughter just got accepted into her safe school yesterday, despite having really low grades and doing poorly on her SATs. Thankfully, we are white so we can rest assured she was accepted on her merit.

  7. 7
    slag says:

    I no longer do a whole lot of ranting on the “stupidity of the American electorate” because more and more I realize it takes a certain amount of work and time just to find a complete set of facts, let alone make the connections between the various actors and what the ultimate goal might be. It’s easy to say “they’re all watching American Idol” or whatever, but even if they aren’t, even if they’re making some good-faith effort to stay informed (in addition to all the other things they have to do) this stuff is complicated. There are layers.

    Agreed wholeheartedly. Though Chris Hayes replacing Ed Schultz may inspire me to figure out how to stream MSNBC.

    Also, I worked in higher ed for many years, and the number of entitled white kids’ parents complaining that their little snowflake was denied for his whiteness was off the charts. At the very least, it was obvious that most of these kids’ parents couldn’t do simple math and had zero basis for their complaints outside of Rush Limbaugh’s drug-addled rantings.

  8. 8
    Bulworth says:

    Thanks for another great column, Kay. I wish this were an actual column in one of those things we call a newspaper.

    I’ve wondered about the “I wasn’t admitted strictly on the count of my race” arguments, thinking that the admissions process weighs a lot of factors. But I hadn’t really read anything that challenged the claim.

  9. 9
  10. 10
    YellowJournalism says:

    Getting all your facts and news from AM radio and the MSM is about as effective as getting all your sex ed from abstinence-only programs and the Bible.

  11. 11
    kc says:

    I’m sympathetic to people who appear uninformed or confused on any given issue, generally. I no longer do a whole lot of ranting on the “stupidity of the American electorate” because more and more I realize it takes a certain amount of work and time just to find a complete set of facts,

    And let me tell ya, if you Google any issue with political implications, the results will be page after page of links to wingnut websites. I ran into this a couple of weeks ago when I was trying to get some straight info about Obamacare.

  12. 12
    Walker says:

    There is a another issue here beyond Affirmative Action, What level of control do state institutions get over their admissions policies?

    Private institutions have complete autonomy and could be as flippant as they want to (thought that would probably affect rankings). I know that at my institution, grades and scores are just a lower bar to get the application read in the first place, but then we lookat a host of other things. Generally soft criteria like “how well has this person done with then resources they were given”. This gives a leg up to inner city kids, but it also benefits the rural kids as well.

    In some sense Texas has already lost past of this autonomy with the Top 10% program. And there is some pushback on the California system serving out of state and out of country people (who will pay more) than in state people.

  13. 13
    smintheus says:

    @Walker: In the background to the lawsuit is the question of whether the Top 10 program is fair or reasonable. It was introduced as a work-around to achieve affirmative action goals by another means when AA was being rolled back.

  14. 14
    aimai says:

    A friend of mine did some work on the idea of the “professionalization” of politics which started quite early in this country–and it goes hand in hand with an extremely complex social system in which you have to turn to lots of different authorities for almost everything. People don’t know how they get electricity into their houses, how utilities are run, where their own sewage goes. How much less do they understand their health insurance policies, how school admissions happen in public or private schools, etc…etc..etc… On almost every issue except the purely personal (and even there a lot of people turn their senses and ideas over to their priests/rabbis/psychologists) people turn their good sense over to other people and rely on them to digest and explicate what is going on around them.

  15. 15
    Kay says:

    @kc:

    I’ve been reading about Obamacare for years now and realized I had missed this huge chunk, a connection between one part and another, while talking to someone who asked a question the other day. I was actually talking, and I heard myself and I thought, “that doesn’t make any sense”. It didn’t make any sense because it was wrong. I put two of the pieces together wrong.

  16. 16
    smintheus says:

    @kc: On the other hand, it’s not that hard to get some basic facts…a heck of a lot easier than in the pre-internet days…and many people hold strong opinions without bothering to learn anything at all. I put in this category people who are incensed about ‘welfare’ and declare that it costs more than the Pentagon’s entire budget.

  17. 17
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @kc:

    And let me tell ya, if you Google any issue with political implications, the results will be page after page of links to wingnut websites.

    I’ve noticed this too. The only reason why the internet is better than the MSM as a news source is that the wingnuts are just getting started at pissing in the punchbowl. They’ve declared war on empiricism and they won’t stop until they drive our levels of scientific and cultural literacy to levels so low it has large geopolitical consequences that can’t be avoided or denied. As in: the other guys understand the ballistics of landing artillery fire on target, and we don’t.

  18. 18
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @aimai: And then they’re taught not to trust authority.

  19. 19
    Mike G says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    “Libertarians” are, pure and simple, neofeudalists.

    Someone once described Libertarians as “anarchists who demand the police protect them from their slaves.”
    Most of them would seemingly be happiest in aparthied South Africa — freedom and high living standards for their little tribe, and screw everyone else.

  20. 20
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @smintheus: That ought to be an interesting argument: “You mean that even though we’re supposed to reward those who strive to do their best, and we want the best to go on as far as possible, the exception is supposed to be when it’s your child?”

  21. 21
    jibeaux says:

    Hell, even if you tried to stay informed by assiduously reading this blog, you’d check, learn something, go research it a bit, come back an hour later to discuss further and the post would either still be there, or buried under fourteen posts of youtube videos and copious cursing. There’s a lot of information out there, it’s always a bit of a crapshoot.

  22. 22
    smintheus says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): No, that’s not the argument. It’s that the system was created as a work-around to stand in for policies that had been struck down in court.

  23. 23
    jibeaux says:

    @aimai: On this topic, I’ve long thought community colleges should offer a little continuing ed course called “How The Hell Does My House Work?” It would just explain what’s behind the walls and between the floors and how it’s connected, and where it goes when it leaves your house. Not really home maintenance but almost pre-home-maintenance, like getting an anatomy class on your first day of medical school.

  24. 24
    Walker says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    The complaint is that program treats all high schools equally. So top 10% at a suburban magnate school is the same as top 10% at a school in a small border town.

  25. 25
    LGRooney says:

    They seek to make the case a referendum on the 14th Amendment itself.

    That’s the only way I can see it, frankly. Although I should know better that this beast cannot ever die, I see the brainless extremism of the right as the death throes of their movement. They own the local politics, and the judiciary locally, regionally and nationally. They want what they want and are pushing hard to get it because they know their chances are going to become slimmer and slimmer as the years grind on and the country grows up. They want legal opinions by higher-level courts in order to impede gains by the “unworthy” among us and to help set future precedent, at least while they are around, even knowing precedent can be shot down.

    I have no fucking sympathy whatsoever for their seeming mental infirmities and would gladly boot stomp them into the 21st century but that is just fantasy. I have to inform people when and where I am able, vote in every god damned election and push others to do the same, raise my child the best way I know how and explain that he needs to inform others in his generation, and write letters/ make phone calls/ a/o march dependent on availability.

    Beyond that or leaving the country, all I can do is hope.

  26. 26
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Todd:

    To be fair, IIRC C+ Augustus was turned down by the UT law school, which is how he ended up at Harvard Business. So apparently UT does have standards beyond “are you from the right family?”

  27. 27
    Hungry Joe says:

    I should be President of the United States, but Barack Obama got the job instead. Guess why.

  28. 28
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Hungry Joe:

    I should be President of the United States, but Barack Obama got the job instead. Guess why.

    Better qualified? Got more votes?

  29. 29
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Hungry Joe:

    Guess why.

    Acorn, duh.

  30. 30
    Zifnab says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: It’s a simple process.
    Ready. Jesus. Fire.

  31. 31
    daverave says:

    @kc:

    The same thing happened to me when I tried to get better informed about BENGHAZ!I!!11 because an acquaintance is convinced that there is a story there. I never thought there was other than “shit happens” but when I googlized it, all I got were stories from WND, Townhall and crap from Lindsey Graham so I gave up. I’d like to rebut some of the hallucinations of benghazi-ites but all I can say to my friend is that when you find yourself on the same side of an issue as Graham, Geller, Bachmann and Limbaugh, perhaps you’ve drunk some kool-aid. I can’t for the life of me figure out what the endgame is for everyone that’s got their panties in a bunch over this. Impeachment? Invalidating the election?

  32. 32
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Zifnab: Two forks are involved.

  33. 33
    Luna Sea says:

    @kc: Did you find any good sources of info you’d like to share? I’ve been mostly using health.gov, but would love to find more, esp. non-wingnut discussions with people actually implementing policies in small and/or growing businesses (under 100 employees). It seems so many companies are just cutting employees or their hours to avoid having to actually offer insurance, it’s really distressing.

    And Kay: any discussions you (or anyone) would like to point to or lead here on dealing with Obamacare would be greatly appreciated, esp. on how people are making it work. All I’m getting where I work is how awful it is and how much of a burden it is on small employers, etc. I feel like I’m a lone semi-sane voice among a bunch of nutters who want to see the whole ACA program fail.

  34. 34
    Ed Drone says:

    @aimai:

    On almost every issue except the purely personal (and even there a lot of people turn their senses and ideas over to their priests/rabbis/psychologists) people turn their good sense over to other people and rely on them to digest and explicate what is going on around them.

    Alexis de Tocqueville had a passage about the “opinion industry” that shows that we haven’t gone very far from the America of 1820. I can’t find it just now, but it essentially says that Americans would rather have someone else provide them with an opinion than to fashion one for themselves.

    Ed

  35. 35
    Kay says:

    @aimai:

    On almost every issue except the purely personal (and even there a lot of people turn their senses and ideas

    Sometimes the personal can help, though. I followed oral arguments on the Michigan law AA case and I was wary of that claim. I had gone thru LSAT and applications myself and the facts are she wasn’t that impressive a candidate. I was a little embarrassed for her, actually. I could see if she was this slam-dunk and she was outraged, but she was iffy, at best. I just don’t know if I were in her situation my first response would have been “black people are at fault here, again!”

    She had some.. other issues that may have played a role, like her LSAT score. Might want to look for horses rather than zebras when she hears hoofbeats, just on a personal honesty level.

  36. 36
    aimai says:

    @jibeaux:

    I think every 8th grade should have a class in social infrastructure:
    roads
    bridges
    sewers
    trash dumps
    electricity/utilities
    gas

    Kids should be taught how to map out their communities, survey and explore local neighborhoods, learn the history of the ethnic and economic areas and thus learn what it is local government is supposed to be doing and how taxes are (or are not) allocated. I’d teach books like “Rubbish” and maybe bits of things like The Geography of Nowhere or individual essays on levittowns and suburbs. We’d watch Building Big and some of the pieces of the series “New York” about urban renewal and highways.

  37. 37
    Seonachan says:

    There were people in my class with lower grades who weren’t in all the activities I was in, who were being accepted into UT, and the only other difference between us was the color of our skin,”

    Amazing how in all these anti-affirmative action lawsuits, the plaintiff is privy to the grades, test scores, employment qualifications, etc. of the darker-skinned people who got in ahead of them (but not of their fellow whites).

    Equally amazing how of the five minority students with lower grades who were admitted, at least two of them came from her class.

  38. 38
    Chris says:

    @Mike G:

    Someone once described Libertarians as “anarchists who demand the police protect them from their slaves.”

    Well, in a perfect libertarian society, you wouldn’t even need police for that; you and your hired thugs could take care of it and the police would just be very understanding.

    I think the main different between libertarians and anarchists is that libertarians are afraid of the government because they see it as a tool of “the mob,” the masses, the vulgar crowds of common people. Whereas anarchists are afraid of it because they see it as a tool of “the man,” the elites, the rich powerful and connected. Each of them tries to shrink the government and possibly even abolish it because each of them sees it as the other one’s most potent tool against it.

    It’s like communism vs fascism; the end result won’t be that different, they’re just coming at it from completely opposite perspectives.

    (It’s also much more theoretical than communism vs fascism was, as the majority of “anarchists” and “libertarians” tend to be political junkies without much of a following. To the extent that “libertarians” have any impact on our system it’s because they’ve blended themselves into the conservative movement, while “anarchists” basically don’t exist in any way that matters).

  39. 39
    aimai says:

    @Kay:

    Right, I agree that people gain access to some factual knowledge through the personal–but my point was that even the personal can be filtered through authoritative teachings. Take the newest member of “the personal is the political” Rob Portman. The truth is that even Rob Portman’s personal experience of the gayz can and has been filtered, for some people, through church teachings and people have roundly rejected even the most personal part of their human experience–the love of a parent for a child–because they turned their conscience over to a church which explained to them that the gayness of the hcild was sinful.

    As for this girl her personal is rather classically solipsistic. She has been trained to look with scepticism on the parts of any social program which are not clearly designed to benefit her and to gloss over the parts of her personal experience which might better explain her situation. The “top ten percent” rule is very well understood in Texas and plenty of white families had the option of moving to send their little snowflakes to a lower ranked school where a little tutoring and determination would propel their child into the top ten–but naturally you don’t want to do that when you need the boost of the unearned privilige of sending your child to a “better” school (fewer minorities? fewer non native english speakers?). Her parents sent their child to their local school where they knew her middle of the road qualities would mean she’d do ok but she didn’t study hard enough to get into the top ten percent of her school where she was competing with other white kids who did get into UT. It takes some fucking nerve to bitch about the fact that she flunked the first and easiest competition and then had to enter a harder competition and also lost that.

  40. 40
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Colleges and Universities do not do admissions based purely on test scores and grades. Anyone who argues that they do is off base.

  41. 41
    Tom Shefchik says:

    Apologies for all the duplications. I did not see any action taking place so I hit the button a few times.

    Sorry. Please delete.

  42. 42
    Hungry Joe says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Better qualified? Got more votes?

    No, I’m serious. Guess why.

  43. 43
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Seonachan: I’m sensing that those kids who weren’t in all the activities she was in had their own activities and might have done better in their activities than she did in hers. Also, I bet they weren’t in all of her activities because any group that she was in was worth shunning for one reason or another.

  44. 44
    Roger Moore says:

    @aimai:
    I’m not sure if 8th grade is early enough. I got introduced to a whole bunch of that stuff at quite a young age through David Macaulay’s books. I think you have to get to kids when they’re young and give them a fairly basic idea that infrastructure is comprehensible, even if only in outline. If they get the idea that “oh, yeah, I learned about this stuff in 1st grade”, they’ll have some kind of comfort level with it when it’s time to learn the details. If you wait until later, they’re a lot more likely to give up before even starting because they’re sure it’s too complicated.

  45. 45
    NonyNony says:

    @Hungry Joe:

    Guess why.

    His TARDIS.

  46. 46
    Matt McIrvin says:

    It’s easy to say “they’re all watching American Idol” or whatever, but even if they aren’t, even if they’re making some good-faith effort to stay informed (in addition to all the other things they have to do) this stuff is complicated. There are layers.

    It’s actually even worse than that. Making a good-faith effort to stay informed, if the sources you pay attention to are themselves deluded or pushing some agenda in a bad-faith way, can leave you worse-informed than if you just watched American Idol.

  47. 47
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Hungry Joe: People couldn’t find “Hungry Joe” on their ballot because your real name is Herschel McGillicuddy?

  48. 48
    Churchlady320 says:

    @Eric U.: That is very useful information. Can you cite your source because it needs to get wider dissemination. Thank you.

  49. 49
    Churchlady320 says:

    @Eric U.: That is very useful information. Can you cite your source because it needs to get wider dissemination. Thank you.

  50. 50
    NonyNony says:

    @Churchlady320:

    That is very useful information. Can you cite your source because it needs to get wider dissemination. Thank you.

    Um – it’s in the link that Kay provided to propublica above:

    It’s true that the university, for whatever reason, offered provisional admission to some students with lower test scores and grades than Fisher. Five of those students were black or Latino. Forty-two were white.

  51. 51
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Matt McIrvin: That is the most deadly part. While there are broad level failures of the news media on many things, the MSM is horrible in its coverage of anything that has to do with the legal system. And often they have lawyers as “legal analysts” who play right along with it. The analysts never make up for the deficiencies of the hosts, but just play along with it.

  52. 52
    aimai says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I agree, I first began thinking about this kind of course when my kids were in 1st and fourth grade. I think it should be a spiral approach, as they do with other subjects, where you do little age appropriate sections in science or sociology at different ages.

  53. 53
    kerFuFFler says:

    @aimai:

    I think every 8th grade should have a class in social infrastructure:
    roads
    bridges
    sewers
    trash dumps
    electricity/utilities
    gas

    Fantastic idea!

  54. 54
    marshall says:

    They seek to make the case a referendum on the 14th Amendment itself.

    What the heck does this mean? We don’t have national referendums in this country. Maybe we should, but we don’t. And, the way to change the Constitution is by amendment, which isn’t going to happen. So, what are they really trying to achieve? Stir up some people to get more money?

  55. 55
    max says:

    @Mike G: Race probably had nothing to do with the University of Texas’s decision to deny admission to Abigail Fisher.

    Ooo. I like that one.

    Race probably had nothing to do with the University of Texas’s decision to deny admission to Abigail Fisher.

    Well, yes, it did. UT admits non-whites. If they stopped admitting non-whites OR stopped admitting the poors (often but not always black & brown), all those white kids would be in like Flynn.

    cf. Highland Park (TX), both the high school and SMU.

    max
    [‘And also the shift from public schools to private ‘academies’.’]

  56. 56
    danielx says:

    @Hungry Joe:

    I feel your pain. I should have been on the cover of Sports Illustrated but they put that harlot female Kate Upton on there instead, as if being female is the point.

    @aimai:

    I truly wish they would have a course like that for eighth graders, just like I wish there was a course in American government for high schoolers that taught how government truly works (or doesn’t). However, in both cases it would involve teaching kids some unpleasant truths; in the former case, for my area it would involve how it has been a de facto requirement for local elected officials to have ‘welcome developers’ tattooed above their buttocks for the last forty years.

    In the latter, how a typical day for a congressman involves four to five hours a day of asking people for money – ‘please bribe me, er, contribute to my campaign – to support your interests, er, show your support for good government’ – which is why policies that have the support of 75% of the electorate somehow never come up for a vote or even as proposed legislation.

    That would upset the little dears and make them cynical at an early age, and that would never do at all, at all…

    Seriously, I think a course like you describe would be a great idea. But can you imagine a course like that being taught in Texas, for example?

  57. 57
    Darkrose says:

    @Bulworth:

    I’ve wondered about the “I wasn’t admitted strictly on the count of my race” arguments, thinking that the admissions process weighs a lot of factors. But I hadn’t really read anything that challenged the claim.

    As someone who’s worked directly and indirectly with undergraduate admissions in two different colleges: yes, the admissions process weighs a lot of factors. Grades, test scores, and extracurriculars are important, and with extracurriculars what they generally want to see is some evidence of leadership. Playing the cello is nice, but that’s probably not going to be enough.

    Then there are the other factors. Race and gender, but also the inevitable bottom line. I would be willing to bet that it’s easier to get into a UC as a marginal out-of-state student than as a marginal student from California, because you won’t be getting much, if any financial aid from the school. If you’re from outside the US, you stand an even better chance; dollar signs will be lighting up in the Chancellor’s eyes.

    The idea that “I’d have gotten in if it weren’t for those meddling black kids” is a symptom of a colossal sense of entitlement.

  58. 58
    Darkrose says:

    @Walker: And there is some pushback on the California system serving out of state and out of country people (who will pay more) than in state people.

    There is? I suppose if enough white helicopter parents start thinking that their special snowflakes were rejected in favor of someone from Asia or Latin America they’ll kick up a fuss. Of course, they’ll never acknowledge that the problem is caused by the slashing of state funding to higher ed in the state thanks to Howard Jarvis and his no-tax acolytes.

  59. 59
    Hungry Joe says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    People couldn’t find “Hungry Joe” on their ballot because your real name is Herschel McGillicuddy?

    Well, okay, that, too.

    (Four words, three commas — and I think it holds up.)

  60. 60
    aimai says:

    Isn’t this basically the Bakke case all over again, just at the college level rather than Medical school? Bakke also lost out to many students who were not evaluated through the regular process at all–those were the all white students admitted as legacy/alumni kids. He choose to sue only the black candidates who got in under whatever passed for affirmative action, neglecting the fact that he competed on an even footing with the vast majority of white students who got in (losing out to them on the merits) and also lost out to the alumni kids.

    aimai

  61. 61
    Roger Moore says:

    @marshall:

    So, what are they really trying to achieve?

    They are trying to get the Supreme Court to change the meaning of the equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment. Current jurisprudence says that it’s OK to write laws that favor minorities in an attempt to make up for past (ETA: and ongoing) discrimination. They want to change it so that the law must be absolutely colorblind, even to the point of not being allowed to notice persistent racial inequality. And they’re in a hurry, because Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy are getting long in the tooth and it’s imperative that they do as much damage as possible before one of them leaves the Court and Obama can appoint a liberal replacement who won’t see things their way.

  62. 62
    Short Bus Bully says:

    @Zifnab:

    HOLY SHIT that is a great line. Consider is stoled…

  63. 63
    ericblair says:

    @danielx:

    I feel your pain. I should have been on the cover of Sports Illustrated but they put that harlot female Kate Upton on there instead

    I studied that cover very carefully and I can vouch for the fact that you were not on it. And believe me, I studied it VERY carefully.

  64. 64
    kerFuFFler says:

    Another good read on the UT admissions lawsuit is here: http://www.theatlanticwire.com.....xas/63247/

    The comment section is pretty much what you might expect…

    I understand that the policy of taking the top 10% is somewhat problematic because some high schools are much more competitive than others. But it really is not a final determination of where the student can earn their degree! Students can transfer their sophomore year if they earn good grades, and the students who were not as well prepared but got in anyway will drop out or shift to less rigorous colleges. It seems like it is more important to give kids coming out of less demanding high schools an opportunity to achieve even if some “more accomplished” kids are inconvenienced by having to transfer.

    No system matching students to schools can be perfect, and frankly balancing test scores, GPA’s, and the rankings within the schools along with information about the student’s other achievements, service and challenges faced is probably about as fair as it can get. Most students will get accepted to appropriate schools, and there will always be people quibbling if they did not get in.

  65. 65
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    @daverave:

    I can’t for the life of me figure out what the endgame is for everyone that’s got their panties in a bunch over this. Impeachment? Invalidating the election?

    Impeachment. At least that’s what the wingnut I know think should happen. But then again, they believe that Obama should be impeached just on GP; Benghazi is just their latest attempt to paper over their hatred with a “very serious offense!” or some such.

  66. 66
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Walker: I can see that, though that statement doesn’t negate what I said. Of course the rework of the law was intended to work around not being able to use race, but the argument that the top 10% from Royse City shouldn’t have the same access as the top 10% of Highland Park smacks of classism. I want to see just how far that argument goes. From what I have known and seen, the top of every school tends to be overachievers no matter how much money the school has.

    And the whole point of Kay’s post is that they were making it out to be race when it was not.

  67. 67
    Bmaccnm says:

    @kerFuFFler: A sixth grade education used to include that here in the People’s Republic of Portlandia- my kids studied the water table- they toured our water source, the water system, then the sewer system and the rivers. Then they studied trash- they toured a big warehouse distribution center as input, toured the trash haulers, then the dump and they recycling centers, with a little study of the market for recycled goods. They missed out on a little math that year, I think, but they learned a whole lot. Not sure if this is still a part of the curriculum, as classes are a lot bigger and unrulier than 10 years ago.

  68. 68
    jibeaux says:

    @aimai: I’m 38 and I need to take that class.

  69. 69
    kerFuFFler says:

    @jibeaux: ditto

  70. 70
    kerFuFFler says:

    @Bmaccnm: Sounds like a great course!

  71. 71
    rikyrah says:

    OF COURSE, this is about the 14th Amendment.

    The 14th Amendment is the basis for Brown v. Board.

    And the GOP has been after it every since 1954.

    That’s why all the bullshyt about challenging birth citizenship. They want to toss out the 14th Amendment altogether.

    The biggest beneficiaries for Affirmative Action have been WHITE WOMEN…

    so, folks can miss me with their attacks on Affirmative Action if the first sentence out of their mouths isn’t

    WHITE WOMEN HAVE BENEFITTED MORE FROM AFFIRMATIVE ACTION THAT ANYONE.

    You do see that these same folks won’t open their fucking mouths about LEGACY admissions..

    another reason why they can miss me.

  72. 72
    rikyrah says:

    another great post, Kay. I love how you tie all these racist weasels together.

  73. 73
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Bmaccnm: Nice. We had stuff like that in Massachusetts until they brought in that Texas conman and started MCAS and now everybody has to teach the test.

    All the best curricula get 86’d with that approach.

    I think it was a scheme by Texass to destroy New England schools to make their epic failures look less bad.

  74. 74
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): Unless of course their schools are racially segregated and we know that can’t be the case.

  75. 75
    catclub says:

    @smintheus: ” It was introduced as a work-around to achieve affirmative action goals by another means when AA was being rolled back.”

    And works best when there is defacto segregation of high schools. Then almost guaranteed proportional racial representation.

    Ironic.

  76. 76
    danielx says:

    So while the Fisher case has been billed as a referendum on affirmative action, its backers have significantly grander ambitions: They seek to make the case a referendum on the 14th Amendment itself.

    Yup. That’s what it’s about. For that matter that’s what the modern Republican Party is about and has been since the inception of the Southern Strategy. It’s just been given additional urgency by the results of the last election, which forced them to recognize that if they don’t limit the votes of Those People by any means necessary that the Party is eventually doomed.

    Also goes a ways towards explaining wingnut antipathy towards the dirty fucking hippies (that would be the we of us) – substitute ‘race traitors’ for ‘liberals’ and a lot of things start falling into place. Seek common ground though you will, this is the issue upon which you’ll never find it. When those who worship the likes of Sarah Palin hear her talking about ‘real Americans’ they know exactly who she’s talking about.

    This is why we seem to be revisiting all those issues that seemed to be settled all those years ago.

  77. 77
    Chris says:

    @Darkrose:

    The idea that “I’d have gotten in if it weren’t for those meddling black kids” is a symptom of a colossal sense of entitlement.

    This. Speaking as a white guy, the persecution complex that so many of my fellow white men love to wallow in is one of my favorite eyeroll subjects.

    Taibbi put it best – “It’s not like the Tea Partiers hate black people. It’s just that they’re shockingly willing to believe the appalling horseshit fantasy about how white people in the age of Obama are some kind of oppressed minority. That may not be racism, but it is incredibly, earth-shatteringly stupid.”

    Except that yes, it is racism, for my money. And the idiot who spoke up at CPAC illustrates exactly why. When your own fantasies about the persecution of your race reach the point where you’re more offended by slave owners apologizing to black people than you are by the actual fact of 400 years of slavery, it’s very difficult to call you anything other than a racist.

  78. 78
    smintheus says:

    @catclub: And since the problem is at the school level, that’s where it ought to be fixed. Creating Rube Goldberg like schemes at the college level to fix what is broken about the schools often screws things up further for the very students they’re supposed to be helping.

  79. 79
    Chris says:

    @danielx:

    This, all of it.

    It’s also why we don’t find common ground with them, not just on that issue, but on ANY issue. Whether we’re unpersons or unperson-sympathizers, we can’t sit down and talk about what we all want for American, with people who don’t even acknowledge us as fellow Americans and therefore don’t think we have a right to be having that conversation with them in the first place. All the shit about spending, taxes, regulations, foreign policy and the rest of that are just proxy wars for what they see as the real issue. (Also explains why they find reasons to continue disagreeing with us even when we agree to their demands).

  80. 80
    Lee says:

    As soon as I read “UT” (assuming it was U-Texas) I knew this had top 10% implications.

    White folk just don’t understand that yes they really mean the top 10% also applies to minorities.

    No really, I’ve heard people complain about that very fact.

  81. 81
    karen says:

    No, the Tea Party and GOP don’t hate black people. They’re just mad that it’s against the law to kill them.

    And I admit I’m not sure but isn’t the 14th Amendment repeal supposed to also repeal the rule that slavery is illegal?

  82. 82
    kc says:

    @smintheus:

    That’s true; you just have to dig through piles of crap and I expect most people don’t want to do that.

    I hate to sound patronizing, but I worry about people who click on a link to American Thinker or someplace like that and don’t know better than to take it at face value.

  83. 83
    kc says:

    @Luna Sea:

    Did you find any good sources of info you’d like to share?

    I couldn’t find them myself; some BJ commenters provided some to me in a thread a few weeks ago; I’ll see if I can dig them up.

  84. 84
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Chris:

    All the shit about spending, taxes, regulations, foreign policy and the rest of that are just proxy wars for what they see as the real issue.

    Oh yes indeedy.

    US politics made so much more sense to me once I realised that it was to a large degree a conflict over cultural identity and that public policy issues, while they have a very real impact on people’s lives, have been co-opted into our kulturkampf as markers for which tribe you belong to, as if this was a sporting event and you need uniforms to tell the teams apart.

    This explains both the way the supposed ideological principles laying behind them are, when inspected more closely, revealed to be an appalling dump heap overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of rubbish imaginable mangled up in tangled up knots, and the enduring nature of the struggle as individual issues come and go over the decades.

  85. 85
    kc says:

    @Luna Sea:

    Some links, thoughtfully provided by other BJ commenters:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/explai…..at_did_it/
    http://www.kff.org/healthreform/upload/7962-02.pdf

    http://www.healthcare.gov/index.html

    http://healthreform.kff.org/subsidycalculator.aspx

    The first is a handy reddit (really) that explains Obamacare in general terms and the others, as I recall, are directed to specific questions I had re who will qualify for a subsidy and so forth.

    And here’s the BJ thread:

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/2...../#comments

  86. 86
    kc says:

    @Kay:

    It sounds as if she felt entitled to be admitted.

  87. 87
    Darkrose says:

    @Seonachan:

    Amazing how in all these anti-affirmative action lawsuits, the plaintiff is privy to the grades, test scores, employment qualifications, etc. of the darker-skinned people who got in ahead of them (but not of their fellow whites).

    Yeah, I find that interesting as well, especially since things like the evaluation of extracurriculars, essays and recommendations is not something that she should have had any access to.

    Also, this year UC Davis had 65,000 undergraduate applicants for around 5,000 spots. Even with them admitting more than 5,000 with the assumption that some people will go to Berkeley, or UCLA, or some place where they won’t get pepper sprayed in the face, the overwhelming majority of applicants this and ever other year got the email that said, “We regret to inform you…” I guess it never occurred to her that out of thousands of applicants, some might be better qualified than her.

  88. 88
    aimai says:

    @Darkrose:

    This reminds me of a very common theme in Heinlein era Sci fi: the idea that there would be a strict ranking system in which there would be a smartest man in the universe, and his girl friend, and the second smartest guy in the universe, and his girlfriend. Maybe I’m thinking of E.E. Doc Smith et al but basically there are a whole lot of people who simply don’t grasp the enormity and complexity of the task of ranking and grading hundreds of thousands of people. These are the same people who watch anxiously to see if they get to be Valedictorian and every year bitch that if the GPA’s were calculated slightly differently their .00005 percent difference should have pushed them over the line and that bitch/jerk who got it wouldn’t have gotten it. They are simultaneously innumerate and highly percentage focused.

  89. 89
    Ted & Hellen says:

    But your posts doesn’t provide any additional information either, Kay. It just seems to make assertions…and then…nothing else.

    ?

  90. 90
    gelfling545 says:

    @aimai: Out of the question. Do you think we are going to take time out of practicing standardized test questions just to let them learn stuff?

  91. 91
    Luna Sea says:

    @kc: Thank you so much! And if I find other sources in my quest, I will be sure to share.

  92. 92
    gwangung says:

    @Ted & Hellen: Aw, you do a better comment than that….either as a contrarian or a troller.

  93. 93
    JWL says:

    “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time”.

    And you can quote me.

  94. 94
    smintheus says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    From what I have known and seen, the top of every school tends to be overachievers no matter how much money the school has.

    Wasn’t the case in my school. Most of the top 10% were just moderately capable rather than great students. Several were pretty dense, including one dimwit who decided she could become valedictorian by taking all the easiest courses she could find. A state-wide Top 10 program is bound to bring in some students who just can’t cut it in an academic environment that’s at all rigorous. And it’s very unfair to them to admit them to a program where admissions officers should know that they’re going to hit a brick wall. I’ve seen poorly prepared students flailing around where it seemed cruel to have admitted them…rather than, say, suggesting they start at a community college and later transfer in.

  95. 95
    Lurking Canadian says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: I see what you did there. You’re a mean one.

  96. 96
    Fred says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: Thom Hartmann claims that a few years back he visited a right wing think tank office and saw a room full of interns at computers busily scrubbing and rewriting Wikipedia. Busy, busy.

Comments are closed.