San Francisco's diversity demagogues destroy a prestigious high school
San Francisco's prestigious Lowell High School is the latest educational institution to be sacrificed to the demagoguery of the diversity minions. Lowell will no longer accept students based on merit, but will accept applicants by lottery.
If you live anywhere in the Bay Area, you know about Lowell High School, a distinguished school whose graduates go on to prominent colleges and universities.
A colleague of mine, who earned a doctorate, authored well received academic works, and went on to become a dean, is less enthralled with any of these accomplishments than that he won admission to Lowell High School, whose quest for academic excellence he attributes to his own success.
Lowell is no bastion of so-called "white privilege." Its student body is 82% non-white, disproportionately Asian (51%), a tribute to the hard work, seriousness, and talent of San Francisco's Asian teens as well as their community's concern for academic achievement.
The problem — for those who believe that intellectual talent and commitment are distributed according to population percentages — is that only 2% of Lowell's students are black. Black students in the San Francisco Unified School District are 6% of the population. Asian students, in contrast, are 33% of the population. Blacks are supposedly underrepresented, and Asians are 1.5 times supposedly overrepresented.
Latino students are 28% of the school district population and 12% of the Lowell school students. White students are 15% of the school population and 18% of the Lowell school demographic.
In the mythical world of affirmative action bean-counters, if some are underrepresented, then others are overrepresented. Therefore, serious and committed Asian students, who have worked hard to achieve high scores on admissions tests, must now step aside and be replaced by black and Latino students who lacked the talent, commitment, or both to compete with Asians.
As a society, we have moved from equality of opportunity to equality of result, or equity, as it is now called.
In the name of social justice, we have substituted ascription for achievement. If you work hard, have talent, and are successful, you might have to step aside to make way for someone whose performance is mediocre but possesses the appropriate demographic characteristics.
It is not just that Lowell's demographics will change, but it will no longer be an exemplary school because its enrollment will be based on random selection and not on merit. In a few years, Lowell will be yet another undistinguished urban high school of the type that permeates our large cities, where students are given degrees based on attendance and social promotion.
The parents of talented and motivated students will vote with their feet. They will leave the city for the high schools of suburbia and, as a consequence, the pool of talented students for San Francisco's high schools will be significantly diminished. Alternatively, they will create charter schools, where merit will still be valued.
If diversity is so important, why don't we use it for professional sports? How about a lottery for America's Olympic teams?
Had diversity rules been applied to the Manhattan Project, the Nazis would have been the first to build an atomic bomb. After all, Jews were significantly overrepresented on the project.
Students of history and political theory will recognize that the issue of ascription versus achievement is the fundamental theme of Alexis de Tocqueville's classic, The Old Regime and the French Revolution.
The French aristocracy ruled based on birth, ascription, and they relished their ascribed privileges over generations but predictably became increasingly incompetent. A society based on ascribed characteristics, instead of merit, is doomed to failure. The French aristocracy ruled for 400 years and was vanquished in a single historical night.
Who will win the race to become the greatest technological power in the current century? It will not be a society that places diversity over merit and competence. There is no social justice in a society bent on self-destruction, for a society has no greater calling than its own economic survival. Promoting incompetence in the name of social justice will not achieve that.
Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati.
Image: Lowell High School.
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