The cruelty of affirmative action

Jeff Jacoby spells out the obvious consequences of affirmative action in education:

The inability of racial preferences to vault more minority students into high scholastic achievement shouldn’t come as a surprise. When an elite institution relaxes its usual standards to admit more blacks and Hispanics, it all but guarantees that those academically weaker students will have trouble keeping up with their better-prepared white and Asian classmates. Minorities who might have flourished in a science or engineering program at a middle-tier state college are apt to find themselves overwhelmed by the pace at which genetics or computer architecture is taught in the Ivy League. Many decide to switch to an easier major. Others drop out altogether.

This is the cruelty of affirmative-action “mismatch’’ — the steering of minorities to schools where they are less likely to succeed.

I saw this happening to quite a few black students at my university. Because I was a 100m sprinter, I was in the track team’s sprinter/jumper/hurdler group, which did all of its training and ate most of its evening meals together. It was probably the most racially mixed group in a predominantly white university. And it was really disturbing to see what a difficult time many of my black teammates had with collegiate academics, despite the fact that they were very diligent and hit the books extremely hard.

This wasn’t true of all the blacks on campus. One of my friends from the soccer team was also black, but he was a very smart guy, a doctor’s son who had attended an elite prep school. He was not the beneficiary of affirmative action, had no academic trouble, and went on to graduate from med school and become a doctor.

Affirmative action is disastrous because it doesn’t help people, but rather, sets them up to fail.