City Journal Winter 2016

Current Issue:

Winter 2016
Table of Contents
Tablet Editions
Click to visit City Journal California

Readers’ Comments

Charles C. Johnson
Lessons from Claremont, Part 2 « Back to Story

View Comments (15)

Add New Comment:

To send your message, please enter the words you see in the distorted image below, in order and separated by a space, and click "Submit." If you cannot read the words below, please click here to receive a new challenge.

Comments will appear online. Please do not submit comments containing advertising or obscene language. Comments containing certain content, such as URLs, may not appear online until they have been reviewed by a moderator.

Showing 15 Comment(s) Subscribe by RSS
I'm not so much concerned that any one of the phony baloney liberal arts colleges rig their nums and I'm a proud alum from one of the best or worse depending how you see it . But when the service academies rig their admissons to produce diversity , good men get killed . About five years ago , a writing instructor at the USNA went public with his experience with unprepared students and made this point in some detail but the issue was hohummed into all the news that fits oblivion . I don't much care who gets into Claremont or Swarthmore , I do care a great deal about who gets in/graduates from the Academies .
B. Samuel Davis May 29, 2012 at 10:52 AM
Roger Mortimer nailed it when he said:

"The real elephant in the room is the poor minority performance in the K-12 ranks. It looks largely intractable, particularly so as long as the out of wedlock birth rate and cultural problems in the affected communities continue. But heck, one cannot talk about that openly in academia either, because that is tantamount to blaming the "victim"."

By "minorities" the assumption is that what he is talking about is blacks and Latinos, and not Asians,and certainly not white males. How Latinos get into this is a mystery, but SOMEONE has to ask, how is it that 50 years after the civil rights movement blacks have such a high rate of crime and dismal educational achievements? And why is it considered racist to even ask this question?

The latter question can be answered simply of course - Democratic media has made asking the question against notions of political correctness in an effort to protect Democratic leaders (including community organizers such as Obama) who have failed dismally, and who get rich off the poverty, or rather the misery industry set up by Democratic operatives to squeeze money from the government et als. But, there is only one political party in the black community, the same one with a past that includes endorsement of slavery, Jim Crow, the KKK and lynchings. That party has an unparalleled record of non-achievement in the black community yet still manages to get close to 100% of the vote. Talk about elephants in the room!

As for the Foundation that brought all this on - these people actually do a great disservice to the favored minorities - I saw first hand how many of these unprepared students took out (at least partial) student loans, were wholly unprepared for the school work and ended up with loans that couldn't be repaid resulting in a lifetime of bad credit, with nothing to show for it. Just another way that Democrats cause more misery for the black community.

Note that the foregoing is not phrased as "well meaning Democrats", since there is every reason to believe that Democratic leaders know exactly what they are doing and are well pleased with the status quo in the black community - 50 years and always asking for help for the "poor." You would think that after 50 years of Democratic support there would be a call for tax breaks for the wealthy! But, then again, after all, it is under the status quo - high crime, dismal educational achievement, and all the rest, under which Democrats get close to 100% of the vote. So for Democrats the "change" in the community is always for the worst.

By the way, what was the Foundation's response to this? Did the school lose its grant?
Mr. Olson, I agree with you. At the same time, perhaps I am naive to be even the least bit disappointed in FunkG's comment. It reflects fairly common behavior.

I do have an analogy, although likely an imperfect one. Prior to the financial meltdown, Lehmann, Bear Stearns, et. al blamed their troubles on short sellers who were trying to profit from spreading unwarranted bad news about these incredibly highly leveraged banking (err, financial steroid) houses. Their officers had to know that they were living on the repo market for funding, and that they had done numerous off balance sheet deals (repo 105's) that never should have been taken off the balance sheet because the liability always remained with the banking houses irrespective of circumstances. But there were too many incentives to avoid engaging in honest accounting, meaning it was profitable in the short run to vastly understate a firm's liabilities. Of course, looking at, and heaven forbid, disclosing, the "real" numbers were very, very painful exercises, and well, to put it simply, short sellers were to investment banks as those who question the numbers behind racial preferences are to the academy. The problem wasn't the short sellers; it was the lousy numbers and data, mostly hidden in an opaque black box. Of course people like me are deemed "racist" - the racial achievement gap has caused billions to be spent at all levels, from K-Grad school, has caused the creation of all sorts of diversity programs and indeed changed the nature of open discussions in education. Yet the gap exists and in some subject matter areas it is growing. This again despite huge Great Society expenditures. There are a lot of vested interests at stake, and no one likes hearing that these multi-decade efforts in many respects have not brought anywhere near the progress which was intended. And, oh, the data mostly remains in an opaque black box. Ask Richard Sander (whether one agrees with him, he should have access to data to conduct his research).
Kudos to writer Johnson, and CY....

---especially to Johnson, who will be "a leper" on his campus rounds, henceforth..

Can we entice Mr. Johnson to motor north, and look under the cover of the San Francisco municipal bedding?
Roger Mortimer, Funk G's accusation of racial prejudice is basically an argument ad hominem: "Anyone who disagrees with me is a racial bigot." But, if you point out to somebody like Funk G that he has not even attempted to back up his accusation with facts, he has a circular explanation for your objection: "You're a racial bigot to expect accusations of racial prejudice to be based on facts." Now that I have pointed out the circularity of such an argument, I expect Funk G to accuse me of racial prejudice.
MLK's dream died with him. It's all about handouts, quotas, set-asides and special exemptions BECAUSE of the color of their skin.
Ever since the Richard Vos scandal emerged, I wonder if it might shed some light on the unexpected resignation of Vos's straight-shooting counterpart at CMC's sister college Pomona, Bruce J. Poch, a year or so earlier. I've heard a lot of admissions people speak over the years, and most of them struck me as well-intentioned dweebs, but Poch, head of admissions for Pomona, was clearly the brains behind the operation that made Pomona so successful. A lot of people who follow college admissions were surprised and disturbed when Poch suddenly was no longer with Pomona. When the Vos scandal came out about a year later, I started wondering whether they were connected.

Perhaps Poch got sick of having his patient explanations of the tradeoff between diversity and high scores/grades rejected by top university officials on the grounds that Richard Vos has proved that the tradeoff doesn't exist.

Why can't you do what Richard does, Bruce? His performance doesn't suffer from some kind of racist tradeoff between IQ and race like you keep claiming exists. What are you, some kind of racist? He brings us more diversity and higher test scores. Why can't you, Bruce?

Keep in mind, I just made this whole theory up. But Mr. Johnson might want to look into it.

Something similar has happened here at Thomas Jefferson High School in VA, which was in the last decade ranked the #1 public high school in the U.S. After policy actions were instituted around 2004-2006 to "diversify" the incoming student body, it has turned out that 1/3 of new incoming students now need remedial assistance in math and other subjects. The school's math faculty sent a letter to the Principal and Admissions Dean complaining that admissions math questions now used were at the 6th grade level and the resulting corps of unprepared students were compromising standards and resulting in students in over their heads. TJ dropped down to 2nd place in the nation recently as a result but with academics taking a back seat to social engineering there is a feeling that the school is now coasting on its reputation.
P.A. Treffeisen May 25, 2012 at 5:36 PM
"We have admitted students that can't read."

Shouldn't it be "...who can't read"?
Interesting that Pamela Gann was also involved, also in March 2002, in the notorious Claremont Hate Hoax:
I cringe at a comment like funkg's because it is a reflexive response so common in the progressive academic echo chamber. It adds nothing to the debate.

It fails to recognize just how difficult a position colleges such as Claremont find themselves, given the host of competing concerns to which they must satisfy. It is nice in the abstract to have "diversity". Quite a messy thing, though, to look at what it takes to obtain it. And worse yet, it has to operate largely in secret, at least until someone gets "caught".

In fact, a fair criticism of Mr. Johnson's work here is that it does not directly address the obstacles Claremont must overcome. Perhaps a longer piece would do so.

They want high rankings. To obtain and keep those rankings, they must attract students with high SAT and ACT scores. But they are also under extreme pressure to have "diversity", which frankly means sufficient numbers of blacks and the "right" kind of Hispanics. Whites and asians do not count for diversity. This is simply a reflection of the dominant academic mind set.

Can you imagine if anyone was truly honest when the Foundation grant was made? That is, a question along the lines of "Do you know how few black students score over 1400 on the relevant portions of the SAT"? An article from the Journal on Blacks in Higher Education in 2005 gives an indicator - maybe a 1000 each year. The article is here:

Did anyone involved state the Foundation's goals were absurdly unrealistic? My guess is no - it is not an environment for candor, especially when feel good money is thrown around.

So to keep up their vaunted ranking, Claremont was going to have to compete for the 1000 or so black students with scores at the desirable level? Compete amongst the nation's top 50 most competitive schools? Compete against flagship universities with lots of resources (even in not the top 50) which give black students at high performance levels full scholarships? Compete against the best HBCU's? Compete for students who simply want a major university experience (including athletics)? Heck, to get any sizable population, they had to, and I mean just had to - relax their standards. This is just a guess, but they had to admit "under-represented minorities" - probably with some frequency, at the 1000-1050 SAT level. Could these students do college work? Yes, likely so, although it appears from Mr Johnson's piece that some professors are distressed with the quality of the students admitted under preference programs. Do they compete well against students with scores of 1450 or higher (who also likely have higher grades in difficult, core high school courses)? No. at least in almost all cases. Do they drag down the average SAT scores, all important to the prestige hogs? You bet. Do they have remedial learning issues not seen in the "regularly admitted" population? Yes. Does this help create a phony, condescending and often segregated racial culture? Yep. Lots of incentives to cheat? You bet, although it should never be condoned. Lots of incentives to deny the real problems in following policies premised upon the politics of racial identity? Oh yes. But that is not going to be admitted by the crew that runs our educational institutions.

Of course, Claremont could drastically lower their admissions standards. But that would only hurt them in the rankings and prestige department, and it would not solve the diversity problem unless they continued to grant racial preferences. The academy's siren call for diversity really is a challenge, and not one that can easily be overcome.

The real elephant in the room is the poor minority performance in the K-12 ranks. It looks largely intractable, particularly so long as the out of wedlock birth rate and cultural problems in the affected communities continue. But heck, one cannot talk about that openly in academia either, because that is tantamount to blaming the "victim".
An important article because the content highlights the vicious link between some grants and the outcome of those grants. The Foundation, likely well intentioned, expected results and there were rewards to the school. The Office of Admissions could not resist jacking up the scores to gain both recognition and more money and, of course, prestige all the way around.
Unfortunately, the scheme was exposed, as was U.S. News and World Report.
I observe that this society has become corrupt from government, to some educational institutions, to the market offerings.
I suspect, however, that the instances are not the rule but enough to believe the foundations of knowledge and learning and integrity and basic are placed in question.
It's a system that is for sale. Why the surprise and angst when it is revealed for what it is? We live in a capitalist nation that has lost its moral compass. The student looks around and sees that success in business lies in systemic theft through patent and copyright infringement, success for the student lies through perceived achievement of high grades and not in the real achievement of passionate seeking and cheats, the college does the same. In a bureaucratic society rules are for bending and skirting, passion and knowledge are the possessions of other to be stolen and exploited.
Here we go again because in other words, and as they might say in England 'Its the blacks wot done it'
maybe i missed it, but what was the point to this?