Looking at Both Sides of the Issue

Dear Editor:

If one of the editorial goals of Black Issues In Higher Education
is to advocate and expand the base of those who seek to increase
educational opportunities for Blacks, care must be most intensive when
reporting the results of various studies that address any issue
pertinent to the stated goal. This includes the issue of affirmative
action.

The news brief in the October 1, 1998 edition titled, “Study Shows
Affirmative Action Works,” is about the new book, The Shape of the
River, by Drs. W.G. Bowen and Derek Bok. The article gives the
impression that racial preferences at top educational institutions has
worked. A review of the writings of those critical to the findings of
Bowen and Bok should have been made in greater detail. There are those
who study the Bowen and Bok statistical presentation and claim that in
reading the data, the interpretation is flawed — hence, the
affirmative conclusion is forced.

Among those critics is Dr. Abigail Thernstrom. Apart from the
disagreement on how to interpret the data, her bottom line conclusion
is that the effort to defend higher education access preference diverts
attention away from the real problem — public schools are doing an
inadequate job of preparing Blacks for college.

If educational opportunity is to be increased, any weakness as to
the justification or methodology of this effort should be fully
explored. We should not kid ourselves as to the achievement of any
program or policy, and we should not deny ourselves the opportunity to
learn from the findings. Without properly reported data — pro and con
— we cannot learn, and hence, we diminish the ability to achieve the
desired goal.

DR. RICHARD D. WELLBROCK

Watchung, N.J.

Endeavors That Flourish

Dear Editor:

Thanks for letting me peek into the world of Black Issues In Higher
Education. I attended the video-conference, “Broken Pledges:
Fraternities and Sororities at the Crossroads,” at the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce. Thanks for making the visit worthwhile.

I also want to thank you for the copy of your publication, which I
also found interesting and enlightening. I was particularly interested
in the article “How Did They Do That?” — which previewed a study
regarding African American students and the SATs.

I am a member of the Hyattsville/ Landover, Maryland, Alumni
Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and we have two SAT
workshops each year — hopefully, to help the students do better on the
exam. Earlier this month, we had 450 students assemble at Central High
School in District Heights, Md., where an SAT expert tutored them on
the subject of SAT rules and principles.

May you flourish in all your endeavors, and may all who support
your efforts come to know that a great people are becoming greater
because of entrepreneurial efforts such as yours.

EARL T. TILDON

Hyattsville, Md.

Short Memories

Dear Editor:

Why does time let us forget from whence we came? And why do
self-serving illusions make “the good old days” seem so wonderful when,
in fact, the opposite was true? I shuddered when I read “Northwest
Passage?” in the September 17, 1998 edition of Black Issues In Higher
Education. Mary A. Radcliffe, the state of Washington’s version of
California’s Ward Connerly, said that it was a slap in the face to have
someone ask, “Did affirmative action get you here?” She went on to
reminisce about the fifties, when no one could ask that question
because it was understood that you got wherever it was you were by
yourself.

Could she have forgotten that in the fifties, there were precious
few of us in any position where that question would have been relevant?
Could she have forgotten that there were laws, as well as customs, that
made such shocking occurrences so rare as to be nonexistent? Can anyone
who was alive in the fillies and sixties forget then-Alabama Gov.
George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door blocking integration
efforts?

The cruelest deception of all is that which we visit upon ourselves.

ALICE HOLMAN

Associate Director, Office of Admissions

University of Colorado-Denver

COPYRIGHT 1998 Cox, Matthews & Associates



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