Phi Beta Cons

Flunk Her

Today’s IHE interviews Sara Martinez Tucker, the new undersecretary for higher ed. In response to a question about racial preferences, she delivers an outrageous misstatement about the intentions and effects of Ward Connerly’s campaign:

Q. Do you support affirmative action as a tool?
A. See, but affirmative action can mean — what do you mean by affirmative action? Is it a quota program?
Q. No, it’s consideration of race in admissions as a factor. The Michigan standard, the Bakke standard.
A. I think it would be Sandra Day O’Connor’s language. To the extent that we don’t have [college] populations reflective of the citizenry, then you’ve got to do something about it…. I kind of like the way Texas did it, which is how do we serve the state better. California has its 4 percent law.
Q. What I’m driving at is — Connerly’s approach would take that away.
A. I’m nowhere near Connerly’s. If we stay with Connerly, it’s survival of the fittest, and survival of the fittest isn’t going to get us to where we need…. The Connerly approach would have us go from 30 percent [minority enrollments in college] to probably 15 percent. We as a country can’t afford that. …

The allegation that “the Connerly approach” would reduce the college enrollment of minorities by 50 percent is empirically false. Has this actually happened in California, where Connerly championed Prop. 209 a decade ago? Nope. Not even close. It’s simply amazing that the Department of Education’s undersecretary for colleges and universities could make such an idiotic statement.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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