SL 728

I’ve been waaaayyyy busy the past few weeks. I’ve been retweeting things that I find interesting, but haven’t had a chance to do blog posts on all of them. Let me do a quick round up, and I’ll try to do a better blog post later today.

Of course, there’s parent separation on the border. I’m not sure what else to say about this horrific situation that hasn’t already been said. We live in sad, sad times.

Stanley Fish says that we should stop trying to sell the Humanities. But I was talking to a woman who works on Wall Street last month. She said that they are hiring people with political science majors, not business majors. So, I think Fish is wrong.

Will Asian-Americans undo Affirmative Action?

I have mixed feelings about work-based learning. Theoretically, it’s great. In practice, it might be another dumping grounds for special ed kids.

Schools are getting rid of GPAs, AP tests, SATs, and grades. What will fill their places?

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34 thoughts on “SL 728

  1. I oppose racial discrimination, so I hope the suit against Harvard succeeds. I do kinda think if you are hiring homicide detectives, you need to hire people who will do well teasing out the secrets of MS-13 and the Mexican cartels, so you have to pay attention to race there, but as far as giving the keys to the kingdom to hardworking high school seniors, that should be colorblind.
    I have mixed feelings about Hooters. They are not going to succeed based on the quality of their food! But I don’t like the idea that blond, big breasts, is a job qualification.

    1. At our house we were reading about Harvard’s shenanigans and oohing and ahing over the terribleness (they were doing that thing where they were dinging Asian candidates based on “personality” while having no info on their personality, just because they couldn’t ding them on grades, test scores, or extracurriculars).

      There are some really interesting charts showing the Asian population of various elite US universities in relation to absolute population and showing that the Asian student numbers peaked and plateaued at the same time the population numbers were shooting up yet further.

      Husband was reading me a story of a guy who probably successfully disguised the fact that he was Asian by avoiding stereotypical activities. It was pretty sad that he “had” to do activities he didn’t like.

      https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/15/politics/harvard-admissions-asian-american/index.html

      “University lawyers opened their arguments on Friday by suggesting the real motive of the challengers is not to protect the interests of Asian-Americans but rather represents “the latest salvo by ideological opponents of the consideration of race in university admissions.”

      Cause Asian-Americans don’t actually care about being penalized 140+ SAT points?

      Suuuuure.

      “Harvard did not directly counter the personal-rating statistic but said in a Friday filing that the challengers’ data analysis failed to include applicants such as athletes and children of parents who attended Harvard or of staff at the school.”

      The chances of that making a difference in Harvard’s favor is close to zero.

    2. Well there’s no real question that Blum and his crowd are using the Harvard case in a continue salvo in the war against affirmative action. The comfort of Asian-Americans in being used this way is certainly not to be presumed (beyond the plaintiffs in the case who signed on). The more modern generation is pretty wise to the ways that minorities have been pitted against each other to the detriment of both groups, in the long run.

      One take home for me is the reversal of the standard positions on the use of statistical analyses to show gender and race discrimination, on the part of the Blum Plaintiffs and Harvard. It’s pretty standard for progressives to introduce statistical evidence in order to argue that there is evidence discrimination — say, for example, in the number CEOs who are women (at least in the court of public opinion, in actual courts, I think the rules can be more complicated). In the analysis by Harvard & Blum, the anti-affirmative action conservatives are introducing statistical evidence to show discrimination while Harvard is arguing that various other variables explain the admissions process, some of which are measured, while others are “hidden”.

      I have amused myself in the last couple of days by reading the dueling regression analyses by (Arcidiacono (plaintiffs) v Card (harvard)). There’s a wealth of data in the reports for people like me who are interested in the details. For example, there were 44 admits in the Harvard pool who are faculty/staff children. If they get rid of that preference and get rid of any consideration of race and add a socioeconomic correction (using the regression model), the number of faculty/staff children goes down to 12 and the number of Hispanic & Asian-American admits goes up (while the number of African-Americans stays about the same).

      1. “The comfort of Asian-Americans in being used this way is certainly not to be presumed (beyond the plaintiffs in the case who signed on). The more modern generation is pretty wise to the ways that minorities have been pitted against each other to the detriment of both groups, in the long run.”

        The Asian community in California mobilized very effectively against the legislative attempt to reinstate affirmative action in the state universities there, and the Asian parents in New York City are mobilizing (whether effectively remains to be seen) against DeBlasio’s to diversify the selective public schools (i.e., lower the number of Asians there). It would be unwise to presume that young people (Asian or otherwise) at institutions where political correctness is rewarded and heterodox thought punished are representative of the broader community.

      2. There’s a generational divide. It would be wrong to presume that Asians are consistent in their views or will operate only on narrow self interest. There’s reasonable NYTimes article that describes some of the dynamics.

      3. y81 thank you! for directing me to http://crookedtimber.org/2012/08/17/the-generation-game-2/. In the spirit of ‘this time it really really really is different’ I kind of think the experience of my children in never being isolated from the cell phone Instagram etc soup in which they swim is kind of different. It does seem to me that my kids are more different from me than I am from my grandparents/parents. That could, of course, be an effect of currentism.

      4. dave s.: Cohort effect? Or period effect? All of us are more wired than we were 20 years ago. Just for some examples, the constant availability of family members by text, and the constant updates on (some of) my friends via social media, mean that those relationships are subtly different than they once were. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that my daughter will be different at age 60 than the way I am at age 60. My grandfather grew up without indoor plumbing, in family that bathed once a week, like in “Farmer Boy,” but his hygiene at age 60 was no different from mine at age 60, despite the differences in our upbringings. All period effect, no cohort effect.

      5. Y81 I don’t have anything to be real sure about here, but I was struck in reading about teen Catherine later to be The Great and her fiancé the story of his sending her a message carried by his dwarf… so teens were connected then, at least if they had the resources of the Russian state at their disposal.

  2. I pretty much do not care about anything other than what’s happening at the borders with separating children from their parents and putting them on planes 2000 miles away and people I know being A-OK about that. Seriously, I have been a mess the past several days.

      1. I think it’s because they need the racists who voted in 2016 but who would have stayed home but for Trump to vote in the midterm. Also, I think the Republicans will do better in the election if it is about immigration than if it is about corruption or health care. They don’t need voters to agree with caging small children, they just need them fearful about immigrants.

      2. They also have Stephen Miller, a Nazi sympathizer and white supremacist, running immigration policy. Trump just tweeted that immigrants are “infesting” the US.

  3. Laura retweeted Joseph N. Cohen who said:

    “My guess is “holistic” applications that will ultimately benefit advantaged groups, whose family resources and connections will help them accomplish impressive things and show “character” and “potential”. Standardized tests were once seen as leveling the playing field.”

    This is 110% true.

    We’ve experienced this even on a pretty modest level. School has a service award for doing 15 hours of volunteering in the course of a year. I feel like that’s pretty minimal, so we had C do it last year (10th grade). Literally every hour of volunteering required an equal hour of parent availability plus transportation plus arranging plus tracking paperwork. At a minimum, each hour of her volunteering required 1.5 hours of adult time.

    Could kid do this herself? Sure–if she were super awesome and organized and we had a car for her and we let her drive. But under more normal circumstances, outside activities (especially ones that occur off the high school campus) are largely a measure of parental resources.

    This is even true of science fair. The 7th grader from our kid’s school who placed at state science fair has (ta da!) two scientist parents. I’m not knocking the kid, and I’m sure he’s very bright and worked very hard–but nonetheless, that kid draws on vast resources.

    1. Harvard knocks the kid for having two scientist parents according to their additional variables of parent occupation. That’s apparently one of the variables that explains the apparent anti-asian-american bias.

      1. “Harvard knocks the kid for having two scientist parents according to their additional variables of parent occupation. That’s apparently one of the variables that explains the apparent anti-asian-american bias.”

        Oooooh!

        That is actually anti-Asian bias, because there are proportionately more Asian women in STEM–you’re going to get disparate impact like crazy.

        (I was recently looking up the demographics of the Math Olympiad winners, and in a recent year, there were–as I recall–two Asian girls and no white girls out of twelve winners.)

      2. No — this is the point. Are Blum & the anti-affirmative crowd (including the crowd in the courts) really willing to buy into the idea that any variable that shows a disparate impact is evidence of bias or discrimination? One of the standard arguments against disparate effect being evidence of race-based decision making, is that there are other reasons, say, that a private club doesn’t have any African-American members.

        The argument that Harvard is making is that they have the right to use any selection criteria they want that aren’t specifically prohibited and that those selection criteria can explain the results they get. Often, those defending clubs/institutions/etc that have racially disparate outcomes argue that there has to be explicit evidence of race based selection (say, in the form of a smoking gun documented conversation) before racial bias can be shown, that the disparate effects of particular selection criteria is insufficient evidence of bias.

        Harvard’s argument is that there is no evidence of bias against Asian-Americans if all the variables that they use in admissions are used to predict the outcomes of their admissions process. Will the argument be successful in the courts? I think I’d put the odds on yes (though I don’t know at what weight) because I think the courts will be reluctant to question Harvard’s criteria, just as they would be in other discrimination cases.

      3. “Are Blum & the anti-affirmative crowd (including the crowd in the courts) really willing to buy into the idea that any variable that shows a disparate impact is evidence of bias or discrimination?”

        I think the actually intelligent argument is that when all the objective variables (grades, test scores, etc.) point one way, and the wholly subjective variable (“personality”) mysteriously points another, to the detriment of an identifiable racial group, that is evidence of discrimination. So requiring a college diploma, or a clean arrest record, as a condition of employment, is not discriminatory, but dinging people with “funny” names probably is.

      4. But how about including, say, zip code or precinct in a way that has a racially disparate effect? I agree that the personal evaluation is suspect at many levels (most notably that it may be evidence of bias in addition to having a racially disparate impact). But is it a good legal case?

    2. My kid (rising senior!!!!!) has 284 service hours. Her volunteering certainly didn’t require 426 hours of my time. But, it did require transportation (first in the form of actual driving and then in the form a car and insurance and gas).

      She’s has a paid job at the organization this year, which is pretty great (oh, and apparently another variable that explains the outcomes of Harvard’s admissions process — # of paid work hours is another factor in the regression analysis that explains the results without referencing race for Asian-American & White applicants).

      1. bj said:

        “My kid (rising senior!!!!!) has 284 service hours.”

        Oh my goodness! Time does fly!

        One of the ways I was able to persuade husband and C that C needs to do the service award again next year was when husband looked up elite college admission requirements and the range mentioned was more like your kid’s hours than our dinky little 15 hour requirement. I felt like the 15 hour thing was literally the least she could do. (Husband had previously argued that C has grades and scores, so why does she need to bother with extracurriculars and volunteering? Husband started his college career 30 years ago in a different country.)

        C does have a very good shot at Hometown U, but I believe in checking all the boxes.

        “She’s has a paid job at the organization this year, which is pretty great”

        Very nice!

      2. Our latest missive about admissions (they are now talking to parents, after having pushed us away for the last three years) says that the number of service hours is not relevant to admissions, only it’s “meaningfulness”, which has to be shown in some way beyond the number of hours (which does appear on the transcript).

        If local U is the plan, then all of the admissions gaming is probably irrelevant. But, if you want to show your spouse the data, have him read the Harvard regression model report, which shows how “good grades” and “scores” are a low minimum bar: 50% of applicants are academically highly qualified at Harvard: 3450 had perfect SAT math scores, 2741 perfect SAT verbals; 8176 had perfect converted GPA.

      3. bj said,

        “Our latest missive about admissions (they are now talking to parents, after having pushed us away for the last three years) says that the number of service hours is not relevant to admissions, only it’s “meaningfulness”, which has to be shown in some way beyond the number of hours (which does appear on the transcript).”

        Blech!

        True story: one of C’s volunteering items was 2+ hours spent assembling a steel filing cabinet for the elementary school last summer with help from her dad and younger brother. How deeply meaningful can we make that sound? And yet it was actually useful work. Ditto, she was recently helping set up for a cancer fundraiser. Again–the work is not deeply meaningful in and of itself, but somebody has to do it.

        “If local U is the plan, then all of the admissions gaming is probably irrelevant. But, if you want to show your spouse the data, have him read the Harvard regression model report, which shows how “good grades” and “scores” are a low minimum bar: 50% of applicants are academically highly qualified at Harvard: 3450 had perfect SAT math scores, 2741 perfect SAT verbals; 8176 had perfect converted GPA.”

        I think she can get into Hometown U. with very little extra effort–but it would kill me if she didn’t get in for lack of just one little thing.

      4. …but it would kill me if she didn’t get in for lack of just one little thing.

        That’s how the middle class drives itself and its kids crazy.

      5. Oh, so true, that “one little thing” you could have fixed. Ultimately, we have to stop grasping at those straws. But, undoubtedly, there’s some parent beating themselves up over having encouraged their child to take the summer Algebra class instead of working at their local McDonalds because the kid didn’t get into Harvard. Probably fewer who are regretting that PhD that means their kids’

      6. bj said,

        “Oh, so true, that “one little thing” you could have fixed. Ultimately, we have to stop grasping at those straws. But, undoubtedly, there’s some parent beating themselves up over having encouraged their child to take the summer Algebra class instead of working at their local McDonalds because the kid didn’t get into Harvard.”

        In this case (with the service award), it genuinely is just “one little thing.” This is not a horrifically selective school, it’s just that (financially speaking) we need her to get in.

        Back to the issue of parent resources, part of parent resources is knowing what might be important and having the wherewithal to get the kid to do the one little thing.

        A lot of the burden of the service hours is the paperwork and record keeping. I need to keep a stack of the forms handy, make sure kid takes the form to the event and gets it signed, collect the form from kid, file it away, and then pull it out at the end of the year and help kid with the service award paperwork.

        Last year was the first time I had my ducks in a row enough for C to get the award, even though she might (maybe???) have qualified the previous year.

      7. This is where public transit is key to leveling the playing field. I grew up in a city and did a million extra curricular activities, and I took public transit to all of them. I even got my bus pass (necessary for getting to school) paid for by one of the organizations I volunteered for. My mother had no idea what I did or where I was most of the time, and she certainly didn’t have the time or inclination to ferry me around to all my activities.

      8. Relax Amy! The number of high school seniors is declining. Schools may be pursuing kids in the next 10-15 years.

  4. I think the work/study options should include pay and the promise of future employment if the student “passes”. If they did, I would be less concerned about the possibility that they were used as dumping grounds for special education or other difficult children.

    I am clearly a student by nature (as is the rest of my family). I read regression analyses for fun and I love data. But, there are clearly people who like to spend their time doing other things and I think that routes to stability that depend on everyone being a life-long student who loves learning is going to leave a lot people out.

  5. The list of removing all qualitative assessments is amusing in a kind of black comedy way. From the point of views of the elite institutions the goal seems to be to craft the class they want without having to answer to anyone and without any transparency. I think that will be the ultimate outcome of any plaintiff win in the Harvard case — even less transparency in the admissions process of highly selective institutions.

  6. Absolutely.

    So, we’re a pro at flagship college admissions. Jonah did 12 and got into all of them, I believe. I can’t remember. Might have been a wait list in there. It’s funny how quickly you forget all that stuff.

    With hundreds of thousands of applications, schools like Rutgers and Penn State are not looking at much beyond SAT and GPA. They don’t have the staff for it. They don’t want to hear about schools that don’t use GPAs anymore and basically told me so on the phone, when I was writing about it. Rudely told me so.

    Jonah had excellent SAT scores, but a so-so GPA from a well known high school. He got into more schools that I thought he would, so they must have looked at other parts of his application. He was a three season varsity athlete, honors classes, great recommendations, and a great essay that wasn’t even about being a brother of an autistic kid. (He refused to write anything bad about Ian.) Those other factors must have come into play at those schools. However, his GPA ruled him out of getting merit aid anywhere. The state colleges do give out merit aid, but they have rigid number requirements.

    1. Our school doesn’t calculate GPA. I wonder how it’s handled at the flagship here? My guess is that they have the student calculate the GPA according to their rules. I wonder how these schools handle schools that don’t give grades at all — apparently Sanborn HIgh School in New Hampshire, as an example. They describe a student who was admitted at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, but I guess that’s private.

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