Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Who is college for?

In California, Proposition 209 banned using race as a decision-making factor in college enrollment. I know some people would cheer and say that it's about time we stopped using race as a factor. The people that I've talked to want to be colorblind and take people based on merit alone. But is it their own personal merit that reserves them a spot at a prestigious university? And who defines merit?

Out of 10,000 African-American students who graduated in Los Angeles County this year, only 96 of them will be attending the prestigious UCLA. Why is that? The University and Proposition 209 would say that it's simply because those are the only students who have the skills to work up to the standards UCLA sets. I would guess they would say they don't see color. It's all about the academics.

However, I would say that money and privileges also play a large part in who gets in to UCLA. How many of those who did get in could afford and actually did utilize privately paid tutors and SAT classes to help them raise their scores and get the help they needed. Though I think it is important to look at basic skill levels and though I am not arguing that many of our kids are even at the level where they simply need a little push. No. Many of them need a LOT of help! A LOT!

However, I would think that as a part of a student's merit, it would be important to look at determination and perseverance as well. If a student does not have the skills, but has the ability and is willing to persevere through the frustration of attending a school that will challenge him/her academically, I think that should be given credit when looking at their application. It may take a little more work on the college's part because that student will need some individual attention to get to a comfortable level with college and be academically successful. That may sound like an undue burden on the college, but at what point do we stand up, take notice that there are students falling through the cracks, and begin to do something about it. Right now I see and hear of students being written off. They are suspended so they don't have to take the TAKS (state mandated) test, which would ultimately count against the schools pretty numbers. At what point do we say that "Kids Matter!" Are we going to sit back and watch the enrollment numbers dwindle, raising our hands in exasperation or are we going to do something about it...so that all kids are granted the same opportunity?
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