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Race Norming

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Autor:   •  December 3, 2010  •  3,814 Words (16 Pages)  •  221 Views

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Is Race Forming is a just means for providing equity in higher education?

I. Introduction:

The United States of America has always been known as a sort of "melting pot." It defined itself as a place of opportunity in which people of all religions, races and national origins could escape persecution and find opportunity. American history began with myriads of immigrants, each group bringing their own cultures and traditions to this new world. It seems that today the trend is toward multiculturalism rather than assimilation. The old "melting pot" metaphor is giving way to new metaphors such as "salad bowl" or "gumbo." The nation is working as one but with each distinct taste in tact. For this reason, we enjoy a diverse population that makes America what it is, however we do face additional challenges. Upon study of our educational system, we recognize a rift that is continuing to divide this nation. There are levels of inequality that seem to grow with each year. What is the cause of this divide? How can we ensure opportunity for all people? Is race norming a just means for providing equity in higher education?

The globalization of economic and technological factors has produced a world in which long-defined boarders are eroding and community is building. A lack of diversity in higher education is a grave disservice to the students that it is designed to serve and prepare. We divided into two groups of two students each to debate this topic. We defined our terms to cater not only to statistical and empirical data, but also from an ethical standpoint. Is it possible to combat discrimination with targeted preference? Throughout this paper, we will attempt to shed light on this topic and show that there is no "black and white" answer, but rather shades of gray that further obscure this perplexing topic.

II. Race Norming is not a just means for providing equity in higher education:

This country has always been defined by the tolerance and opportunity that it affords. These fundamental freedoms are the basis of democracy and the foundation of our Constitution. The nation faced an early dilemma when promoting freedom and equality while simultaneously allowing slavery. The rift that resulted in this call to consciousness set the stage for distrust and inequality that lingered and arguably still haunts us today. In 1954, the United States Supreme Court ruled decisively that equality should be extended to the public school systems (Cornell). The "separate but equal" status quo failed to provide equitable learning environments and appropriately outlawed segregation. Justice Thurgood Marshall stated that "distinctions by race are so evil, so arbitrary, and so invidious that a state, bound to guarantee the equal protection of the laws, must not invoke them in any public sphere" (Cornell). These words ring as true today as they ever have. Preferences based on race or national origin the advantages that are offered for a specific target group become disadvantages for a non-preferred group. Simply increasing the number of target groups does not make the situation more fair. This cannot warrant abandoning true equality.

This argument becomes problematic, however when institutions begin to factor in the history of our country. Admittedly our nation has made grave mistakes in our quest for equality. Hence, there is much room for redress and a proper remedy. If we choose to grant reciprocity on the basis of race, we indirectly discriminate against non-protected groups. Amends should also be aimed at people who were actually affected by discrimination rather than those who only share a national origin or skin color. Such ill-conceived reciprocity becomes potentially over-inclusive since people receive benefits that they may not necessarily deserve. Good motives do not make something just.

The inferiority of minority groups is a lie that is brought about by bigots and ignorance. If we grant preference on the basis or race, we create the link that leads to the belief that some races are inferior. Race norming gives advantages to people of protected classes, but hurt them likewise. Preference results in awarding persons on the grounds that are not relevant to their duties or studies. This, in turn, relates to the stereotyping of inferiority which becomes reinforced by the devices meant to support minorities. Preferences lead to jealousy, entitlement and confusion. Race norming gives advantage to students who are ill-prepared, which then causes them to suffer through performance. These students often fail in their course work and this just gives further justification to bigotry. "It is a statistical certainty that students admitted to a college or university with credentials that are diluted by considerations have nothing to do with intellectual attainment or promise will do relatively inferior work in their courses" (Cohen).

Standardized testing is one of the key components to admittance of applicants to colleges and universities. "Standardized testing was once championed as a way to "level the playing field, to evaluate candidates on their merit alone. Racism, it was hoped, would die out because selections would be made on objective criteria" (Campbell). Blacks and Hispanics continued to perform below their white counterparts on these standardized tests. In turn, universities began setting the bar lower for minorities. The focus was placed on reactive strategy rather than a proactive one. The real question that we should be asking ourselves is why are minorities scoring lower, and how can we better prepare them for higher education? The answer to this question is much more complex than merely adjusting admissions standards. "Americans have created the extent and type of inequality that we have, and Americans maintain it" (Fischer). To truly correct the incongruities, we must look to our society rather than just covering the social wound with a band-aid.

"Two stereotypes that can be found everywhere in American culture are the "dumb jock," brawny and stupid, and the weak, bespectacled "science nerd" (Jones). The "dumb jock" stereotype is one of the most well known in America. "Athletic talent and physical strength are, as a physiological fact, statistically associated with superior intellectual performance" (Cohen). When institutions began to recruit heavily based on athletic ability alone, the result was most often that admissions standards were lowered and students with poor reading and writing skills were admitted on the basis of preference. This kind of thinking yielded a myriad of athletes that could


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