Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Thorn by any other Name... - I am ceaselessly amazed at the expedients that diversity devotees will employ to justify their positions. Those of us whose appetites for the humor engendered by liberals "gone wild" will enjoy this crudite offered up by the NYT. As we learn form the article, Richard Sandler, a law professor from UCLA authored a study - published in the July edition of the North Carolina Law Review - that proposed that black associates at major law firms are far less likely to stay with their employers or to make partner than their white counterparts.

Data from
"The Racial Paradox of the Corporate Law Firm," suggests that blacks in entry-level and mid-level positions at major law firms have an annual attrition rate of 30 percent versus 10 percent for whites. At the partner level in large law practices, blacks make up 1.6 percent of partners, versus 94.9 percent for whites. According to Professor Sandler, this discrepancy was explained primarily by the fact that diversity conscious law firms usually take on African American lawyers with lower grades that white attorneys. Statistics from the study point out that the median G.P.A. of black law school graduates is in the 10th percentile, while the typical white graduate's G.P.A. is in the 55th percentile. (For graduates of top law schools, the typical black G.P.A. is slightly better in the 18th percentile, compared with the median white G.P.A. in the 75th percentile.)

To be sure, it is an open question as to what factors plausibly explain the dearth of blacks making partner in large law firms. What should be troublesome to all observers is the willingness of diversity apologists to disparage the study itself. James E. Coleman, an African American law professor at Duke, was quoted by the NYT as saying, "I don't think you can do what [Sandler] is trying to do, which is to use purely objective data to explain what is happening in law firms," and went on to suggest that Professor Sandler was placing too much emphasis on grades as opposed to other skill sets.
Professor Coleman, along with fellow Duke law professor Mitu Gulati, co-authored a response to the Sandler study, also published in the July issue of the North Carolina Law Review entitled "Is It Really All About the Grades?" The co-authors wrote:

The harm of the Sandler article is that it will contribute to the stereotyping that already undermines the success of black associates in elite corporate law firms.
This of course is sort of like a woman blaming her dress for making her look fat. If anything contributes to the stereotyping of black associates at big law firms, it is the differential in standards between black and white hires. Liberal protests to the contrary, grades do matter. Otherwise, it would be more direct to just award a certain percentage of black college graduates with a law degree, rather than to grant them admission to a school where the odds of doing well are stacked against them.

Rather than excoriating Professor Sandler for posing a reasonable explanation for the attrition of African American lawyers, Professors Coleman and Gulati would be better served by confronting the glaring discrepancy in academic outcomes of blacks and whites at all levels of education. The vicars of diversity must recognize that any sort of preferences - be they in education or in hiring - do not deal with the root causes that "necessitate" such measures to begin with.
If the goal is to increase educational outcomes for African Americans, that end would be better served by improving the performance of the schools where black children are educated.

In practice, affirmative action and other preference programs represent a case of "too little, too late." Innumerable studies have shown that scholastic performance for black and white students begins to diverge as early as kindergarten, with many African American students not fully prepared or motivated to learn on day one of their educational careers. The factors that create this disparity are at work early on in the lives of black children and manifest themselves very quickly. It makes little sense therefore for African Americans to place so much emphasis on programs that do not take effect until at least 18 years after the problems of underperformance of black students have manifested themselves, and does not bear fruit until many years after that.

It’s stupefying to believe that the (mostly) liberal civil rights organizations bleating the loudest in support of creating a more equal society advocate a program that actually creates a false "diversity," while doing next to nothing to improve the black community's overall educational status. Ultimately, the entire superstructure of preferences allows certain Americans to pretend that our country has an effective system of primary and secondary education and that systemic reform is not necessary. We’ll leave it to Dr. Thomas Sowell, author of Black Rednecks and White Liberals, to highlight the bitterest incongruity in all of this.
Ironically, many of the bitter-end defenders of the current public school system and its educational dogmas are also in favor of preferential admissions of minority students to colleges and universities. In other words, having denied minority children an opportunity to develop the kinds of intellectual skills that would make lower admissions standards for them unnecessary, they then send minority students on to institutions where they are less likely to meet course standards designed for better prepared students – and where most minority students do not last long enough to graduate. During their time on campus, such students help present a photogenic picture of "diversity" on many campuses but their roles are much like those of movie extras, who simply provide a background for others.

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