Phi Beta Cons

The Egalitarian Madness Gripping Madison

I’m referring to the flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin, where administrators are utterly determined to wipe out “racial grade gaps.” In today’s Pope Center Clarion Call, emeritus economic professor Lee Hansen discusses the pressure that the school is putting on faculty members, particularly those in a number of introductory courses that students must do reasonably well in, to make sure that the “gaps” disappear.

The essence of the problem is that UW admits a large number of relatively weak students to meet its “diversity” goals. But then, many of those students don’t do well in introductory courses and can’t get into “high-demand” majors. All of that makes the diversiphiles very sad. So they’re telling the faculty to employ better, more multicultural and student-friendly teaching methods so the “targeted students” will do as well as the white and Asian students in those courses. Hansen is just as skeptical as I am that there are any such improved methods for teaching basic courses like chemistry. What is apt to happen, he argues, is that to keep the higher-ups off their backs, the faculty teaching those courses will inflate the grades of the weaker students.

Hansen also skewers the pretentious notions behind the egalitarian mania, such as that if students in “target groups” don’t do well, that’s going to “suppress their horizons.”

His conclusion sums up the problem very nicely: “UW-Madison is going through all these contortions because the administration can’t or won’t acknowledge a simple fact: some groups of admitted students are significantly less well prepared for college work.”

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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