Phi Beta Cons

Hispanic-Serving Institutions

There’s an Inside Higher Ed article today about “The Emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution,” which begins by noting, “In the 1980s, the designation Hispanic-serving institution (HSI) was created by the federal government to direct funding to nonprofit colleges where at least 25 percent of the full-time-equivalent students are Latino.” And that, in turn, prompted my posted question/screed:             

Why should the federal government give more money to some schools, and less to others, based on what country the students’ ancestors came from? There is no good reason, and certainly none that would pass muster under the “strict scrutiny” the courts use in applying the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. If the feds want to give more money to schools where the students are from disadvantaged backgrounds, say, or do not speak English as their first language, then they may do so — but they do not have to use national origin as a proxy for poverty or linguistic ability. In other contexts, we would condemn that as stereotyping.

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