Phi Beta Cons

Justice O’Connor’s 24-year Deadline

Here’s an article from InsideHigherEd today regarding a new study that purports to show that it is unlikely that African Americans will not need racial preferences 22 years from now (per Justice O’Connor’s 25-year expiration date on preferences, set out in her 2003 University of Michigan law school opinion). There are two rather obvious cause-effect problems here.  First, as I’ve noted before, the use of preferences itself makes it harder to narrow the performance gap.  Second, a key premise of the study is that, as income for a racial group increases, so does its SAT performance. I suspect the causation runs at least as strongly the other way: that as SAT scores go up, so does income. The problem facing the African American community is cultural, not financial, and there are signs that it is facing up to this fact (Bill Cosby, Juan Williams, John McWhorter, Shelby Steele, etc., etc.).  That’s the trend that matters, not income per se.