My essential message is that "You have to read the fine print."
The kind of assimilated American Catholics and Protestants I grew up around tend to assume that the fine print on admissions to taxpayer-funded institutions such as the University of California is made up by experts with the public good always in mind, and if you need to be aware of its implications, you'll be duly informed by professionals.
The kind of people I talk to now about these questions tend to be Korean, Armenian, Jewish, and so forth. It would never occur to them to trust public institutions to treat their family members well. Nor do they trust the media to explain the rules of the game honestly to them, since everything about public education hinges on race, and everybody is supposed to lie in public about race.
Now, my traditional instinct in my writing is toward making disinterested public policy recommendations consistent with the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. But, I intend, as a service to my readers, to increase the percentage of Self-Help advice in my writing, especially in regard to education.
Right now, there is a lot of information on getting the best education for your kids that you have to be plugged into an extended family and/or ethnic network to become aware of.
For example, consider the current proposals to streamline the University of California admissions process somewhat. Earlier in the decade, the UC had bludgeoned the College Board / ETS into making major changes to the SAT, including adding the Writing test and extending the range of math subjects tested on the SAT into higher math. This expansion of the SAT means that the UC's complicated requirement that students take both the SAT and three SAT Subject achievement tests (including Writing) seems obsolete. By getting rid of the requirement for three SAT Subject tests, the UC supposedly hopes to make admission less complex, less time-consuming, and less expensive.
Is this a good idea? I don't know. I'll look into it. What I can say in the abstract is that it will be good for some people and bad for other people.
One thing that is clear is that organized Asian pressure groups like application processes that are complex, time-consuming, and expensive. The Asian-Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus in Sacramento sent a detailed letter to the chairman of the UC Board of Regents complaining that in one "low end" scenario,
"the total percentage of African American, Chicano/Latino, Native American, and Asian American students would decrease from 60 percent to 53 percent; ... whereas, the percentage of White students would increase from 34 to 41 percent. ... The Joint API Legislative Caucus has specific reservations about how the new admissions proposals would decrease the percentages of Asian Pacific Islanders from 32.6% to 25.2% of the entire eligibility pool ..."In other words, in the low end projections, the changes probably wouldn't have much effect on NAMs, so lumping all minorities together is just a smoke screen to occlude what the Asian Caucus is really mad about: the changes might benefit whites at the expense of Asians. The letter is worth reading because the politicians who wrote it have thought very carefully about the effects of UC admissions requirements -- not from a Kantian perspective, but from a zero sum one.
Now, as you might guess, the California state legislature doesn't have a White Caucus, so it's hard to get the other side of the story. It is, however, easy to find insanely detailed analyses of the effects of suggested changes worked up by Asian pressure groups. For example, the website of the liberal organization APAP, Asian-Pacific Americans for Progress: A National Network of Progressive Asian Americans and Allies for Action and Change posted:
APAP's blog would like to welcome Spam Fried Rice to our blog team where she will be covering education issues. She starts off with a six-part series called, “UC Admissions Scandal of 2009! … Yo, let’s not freak out… just yet.”
Asian-Pacific Americans for Progress read the fine print.