On this Monday, the U.S. Department of Education issued a misguided guidance titled “Questions and Answers Regarding the Supreme Court’s Decision in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. Harvard College and University of North Carolina.” Instead of fulfilling its mission to improve American education and to enhance America’s competitiveness in the world, the U.S. Department of Education myopically focuses on racial diversity, and even suggests many shortcuts to circumvent the Supreme Court’s recent rulings on college admission.
As a blatant violation of the rulings that also ban the use of proxies of race in college admissions, the guidance advocates that “In identifying prospective students through outreach and recruitment, institutions may, as many currently do, consider race and other factors that include, but are not limited to, geographic residency, financial means and socioeconomic status, family background, and parental education level. For example, in seeking a diverse student applicant pool, institutions may direct outreach and recruitment efforts toward schools and school districts that serve predominantly students of color and students of limited financial means. Institutions may also target school districts or high schools that are underrepresented in the institution’s applicant pool by focusing on geographic location…”
Recklessly, while America is faced with a serious STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) shortage and our K-12 education is well behind China and other industrial nations, the U.S. Department of Education does not focus on how to improve our nation’s educational quality. In this guidance, it even suggests colleges “to study whether application fees, standardized testing requirements, prerequisite courses such as calculus, or early decision timelines advance institutional interests (inexplicitly racial diversity),” further lowering our nation’s educational standards.
Furthermore, this guidance mistakenly equates diversity with skin-color diversity. In my opinion, the number one diversity higher education should promote is diversity of ideas, which is essential for students to broaden their knowledge and develop critical thinking skills. Throughout the whole guidance, there is no concern expressed regarding the danger of limiting freedom of speech on college campuses. Instead, the whole guidance is focused on racial diversity based on skin color.
More seriously, the guidance missed a very important subject: How to address the root cause of the lack of racial diversity in higher education, which is the failing K-12 education in many black and Hispanic communities.
Asian communities support a constitutional way to enhance the racial diversity in American colleges. However, the Biden Administration and liberal politicians wrongfully defined it as a college admissions issue. The matter of fact is: Meritocracy and color-blind college admissions did not cause Black and Hispanic underrepresentation in America’s elite colleges. The failing K-12 education systems in too many Black and Hispanic communities did.
Astonishingly, throughout the guidance, no single sentence talked about the racial performance gap in K-12 education and the root causes behind it: high unemployment rate, crime rate, drug abuse rate and divorce rate, as well as the failing public schools in America’s inner cities.
Today, the right focus should be fixing K-12 education for Black and Hispanic communities because it is the only constitutional way to enhance racial diversity in higher education by providing an adequate pipeline of qualified black and Hispanic students for our nation’s colleges.
If the Biden Department of Education really cares about improving education for “underrepresented minorities,” it should have the courage to provide effective solutions to address the #1 educational ordeal for Black and Hispanic children, the failing K-12 education in their communities, instead of circumventing the U.S. Supreme Court rulings.
Yukong Mike Zhao is the president of Asian American Coalition for Education. In his new book, “Critical Race Theory and Woke Culture: America’s Dangerous Repeat of China’s Cultural Revolution,” he warned of the dire consequences of mandating racial equity in America.