New York Times opinion columnist David Leonhardt linked to EphBlog in his column a few weeks ago about the enfolding admissions bribery scandal. Thanks! Alas, Leonhardt is one of the more clueless education reporters, a not particularly clued-in breed, as we have documented again and again and again. Is a link from him something to be proud of? Either way, his article merits 10 days of discussion. Day 2.

Leonhardt, as we discussed yesterday, does not want an academics-only admissions system because such a procedure, however “fair” it might be, would lead to, at least, 40 Asian-American students at place like Williams and Yale for every 1 African-American student.

A simplest way to avoid that fate would be with racial quotas. Is Leonhardt in favor of that? Just specify that 10% of Yale would be African-American and use objective academics-only criteria to fill those slots. (This is, in fact, more or less what Yale/Williams do.) No need for anything else, whether it be athletics or music or legacy-status. No need for the rigamarole of holistic admissions.

My guess is that Leonhardt would be against this plan for several reasons. First, it is definitely illegal, at least for public universities like Michigan and Berkeley. Second, it is probably illegal even at private universities like Yale and Williams. Third, it would make the discrimination against Asian-Americans too obvious. There would either need to be different standards for whites and Asian-Americans or a place like Yale would be 40% to 50% Asian.

Most importantly, it would make too obvious the difference in academic credentials across races, something that people like Leonhardt prefer to hide. Under this plan, the average African-American would have SAT scores 150 to 200 points lower than the average Asian-American at a place like Yale, and 250 points at a place like Williams. (The difference arises from Yale “stealing” all the African-American candidates with Williams-caliber credentials.) Unless we use the smokescreen of holistic admissions, the disparities become impossible to miss.

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