Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Internally confused

I have to admit that this article slightly has me confused: California Affirmative Action Ban, Proposition 209, Challenged In Court. The article talks about a challenge to Prop 209, a measure passed by voters that bans affirmative action from being used to consider university admission. Supposedly this means that you get picked to enter public college in CA based on merit, and not on race, sex, ethnicity, etc.

That’s good, right? It’s how I’ve tried to get through my career, based on my skills and accomplishments. I wanted to be considered along with everyone else on an even keel.

However there’s a good counter argument. The state of CA has a diverse population, and public school education (below college) isn’t fairly distributed. Almost half of the population is black, Latino, or Native American for high school graduates, but substantially less than that at the colleges.

There are lots of kids trying to succeed and working hard, but they don’t always have the same opportunities. And by the same, I don’t mean the exact same, but an even spread of opportunities. There are plenty of schools that don’t have the choices for after school clubs, sports, theater, etc. for various reasons (budget, safety, etc). If these are state funded institutions, shouldn’t there be more diversity that matches the country?

It’s a good argument either way. Perhaps we ought to have some bars set for admissions and the lottery out positions. I know that we want to think that merit should rule, but that isn’t necessarily the best measure, in my opinion. There is value to diversity, and there is value to serving the populace in a fairer way.

After all, I know that throughout much of my career in business, it isn’t the smartest, or the hardest workers that get chosen. And it isn’t the highest GPAs that get picked for college. It’s a subjective line, and I’m not sure that considering diversity is a bad decision when the population is very diverse.

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