Affirmative action divides the country

It’s impossible to know how the Supreme Court will rule in two cases involving the role of race in college admissions (“Supreme Court to Revisit University Affirmative-Action Programs,” The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 29).  But one thing is certain: nearly three-quarters of Americans don’t believe race or ethnicity should be a factor, according to a March survey by the Pew Research Center.

I’ve long believed that merit alone should be the basis for deciding who is admitted to college. If that means only Asians and whites, so be it.  College is not for everyone.  Admitting students who lack the proper academic wherewithal in order to engineer diversity sets them up for failure and lowers overall standards. The Supreme Court hasn’t helped clarify matters by its past decisions in the Bakke case and in the Grutter case.

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Catholic schools shine in the face of the pandemic

You don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate the achievements of Catholic schools compared with those of public schools (“Amid the Pandemic, Progress in Catholic Schools,” The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 28).  Students there had the nation’s highest scores on all four NAEP tests. In fact, if Catholic schools were a state, their 1.6 million students would rank first in the nation.

It’s easy to attribute their success to the fact that 92 percent of them remained open during the pandemic compared with only 43 percent of traditional public schools.  But I maintain that their success is due to their adherence to basic knowledge.  They have not fallen for wokeism that has infected public schools.  As a result, they deserve high praise.

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Affirmative action needs to go

It’s hard to predict how the Supreme Court will rule about affirmative action (“Affirmative Action’s Last Best Hope,” The New York Times, Oct. 26).  Ever since Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003, it has emphasized racial diversity’s importance in academic settings.

But I hope the high court puts an end to affirmative action.  It’s been in place long enough.  I believe that pure merit should be the sole basis for admission.  If that results in fewer places for Blacks and Hispanics, so be it.  College is not for everyone.

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ACT and NAEP scores fall

When both ACT and NAEP scores fall in close order, it’s time to ask what is going on (“Falling ACT Scores and the Dumbing Down of America,” The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 25). The easy answer is that the pandemic is the villain.  But the trend for both tests has been slowly downward before Covid.

I believe the reason is that classrooms have become indoctrination centers rather than centers for the basics. As a result, students are graduating ill-prepared to handle college-level work. Sure graduation rates are rising, but they are meaningless because students have not mastered the work.

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Fraud at religious schools tarnishes their appeal

Fraud committed by any school is serious, but when it occurs at a religious school the damage is compounded (“Hasidic School to Pay $8 Million After Admitting to Widespread Fraud,” The New York Times, Oct. 24).  I’m referring now to the Central United Talmudical Academy in Brooklyn, which is the largest private Hasidic school in New York State.

Although the school will pay fines and restitution totaling more than $8 million, the damage has already been done.  Like all religious schools, honesty is supposed to be a guiding principle.  When it turns out that fraud or other crime has been committed, it forever stains their reputation.

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Public schools post dismal NAEP scores

The latest NAEP scores are discouraging (“How to End the Epidemic of Failure in America’s Schools,” The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 24). They show the largest learning loss in both math and reading in modern history.

It’s easy to blame the pandemic, which resulted in the closing of most public schools. But scores were falling before Covid.  The fact is that most charter schools during the same period in question performed quite well.  Could it be that parental involvement made the difference?

I ask that question because enrollment in charter schools is not automatic.  Parents must apply.  As a result, the fact they do so is evidence that are involved in the education their children receive. I believe it is this fact rather than the absence of teachers’ unions in charter schools that account for their success compared with traditional public schools.

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Use merit-based admissions to selective high schools

New York City is finally getting real about its admissions policy to selective high schools (“A big step forward for NYC high schools,” New York Daily News, Oct. 13). After making admission based on a lottery, officials have realized the absurdity of that approach.

The truth is that selective high schools are for students who have the wherewithal to succeed.  They are not for students who happen to win the lottery.  Why destroy the last vestige of excellence in New York City?

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Keep race out of college admissions

Racial considerations in college admissions have been voted down twice in California (“A More Diverse America Turns Against Racial Preferences,” The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 14). Yet colleges persist in trying an end run around the issue.

College is not for everyone.  Certainly, it is not for applicants whose race is a factor in admitting them.  I say pure merit should be the only consideration.  If that results in a study body composed of students from only one race, so be it.

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ACT scores shouldn’t be written off

The average score on the ACT fell to its lowest level in more than three decades (“ACT Test Scores Drop to Lowest Level in More Than 30 Years,” The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 12). It’s easy to attribute the decline to the pandemic, which certainly played a part.  But I think there’s more to the story.

Standardized tests are attacked for a host of reasons. They are hardly perfect, but they shouldn’t be dismissed for their technical shortcomings.  I say that because the U.S. has no national curriculum.  As a result, it’s impossible to know how much learning is going on.  Ideally, standardized tests are best used for diagnostic purposes. Nevertheless, they provide valuable feedback.

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Medical school is not for everyone

When 82 of the 350 students in an organic chemistry class at NYU signed a petition charging that Maitland Jones, Jr. made the material too hard, he was fired (“The N.Y.U Chemistry Students Shouldn’t Have Needed That Petition,” The New York Times, Oct. 7). There is some truth to both sides of the issue, but I maintain that in the final analysis there is only one consideration.

The fact is that med school is not for everyone.  It takes a certain innate intelligence to succeed that has little to do with economic and social factors.  Trying to engineer diversity in any medical school is bound to harm patients who are less interested in race than in competency.

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