Thursday, January 16, 2003

Sam Heldman says:

First, you've got to figure out why we admit people to public universities. It's not as a reward for making good grades in high school. It's so that we can improve our society -- spending public resources to expand the minds of a lucky relatively-few, so that they will go on to do things that will make the world better. Admission is not an entitlement that arises from being smart. It is a matter of being chosen to be the subject of a public investment. Second, we have decided that we ought to invest in just about as many minority kids, proportionately, as white kids. Why? Because it seems pretty obvious to us that this is the way to improve the world -- not by reserving this public good mostly for white folks, but by spreading it around. The world will be better more quickly, we think, if there are black lawyers as well as white lawyers, Hispanic engineers as well as Anglo engineers, etc. And it also appears to us that any fairly-designed system of assessing "merit" just would result in approximately proportionate representation among races and ethnicities -- that is definitional, we think, as to the words "fairly-designed" and "merit". Third, if we went solely on SATs, LSATs, and grades, we wouldn't achieve this goal -- so we make adjustments. It's not a perfect system, but no one has ever yet designed a perfect system for measuring or even defining human merit in any sphere. So get over it.