SCOTUS targets education

The Supreme Court rocked the collegiate world this week with two relevant decisions. In the first, they ruled affirmative action unconstitutional as a means of deciding admissions. In the second, they struck down Pres. Biden’s plan to reduce or eliminate student loan debt.

While the intent of affirmative action is admirable and does help create a diverse student body, it also acts as a form of reverse discrimination. Is it fair to admit a black or brown student because of their skin color and thus deny a more scholastically accomplished white or Asian student? Strong arguments exist on both sides, but college admission, to be fair, should be based on demonstrable scholastic merit — grades, class rank, extracurricular activities, overall achievement in high school.

As for Biden’s plan regarding student debt … no. Just no. Regardless of whether he has the power or authorization to implement such a plan, the fact remains it is grossly unfair to those who’ve already paid off their own student loans or who chose not to incur any. Student debt, like any loan, is knowingly, willingly assumed with the responsible, contractual obligation to repay it. It should not be reduced or dismissed with a wave of the hand and left for others to pay off. Generations of former students have already worked to pay off their own debts. Why should they now have to pay off someone else’s?

21 thoughts on “SCOTUS targets education

  1. Being non-American I don’t have the right to comment here – pfuh !! Of course I shall comment .. especially as these SCOTUS pronouncements make good sense, uncharacteristically.
    Affirmative action anywhere, in any field, is ridiculous.
    Student loans were undertaken and should be honoured.
    I have spoken.

    1. Of course you have the right to comment here. That’s what the comment box is for. It’s always interesting to see what a non-American thinks of our shenanigans. And in this case I agree with you, too, although that’s never a requirement.

      1. You say, “. . .but college admission, to be fair, should be based on demonstrable scholastic merit — grades, class rank, extracurricular activities, overall achievement in high school.” I would have agreed before reading something in George Wills’ column this morning. He says data exists that if admissions at Harvard were based only on prior academic achievement, then 40% of students at Harvard would be of Asian descent. What say you and MR about that?

      2. I’ve heard similar statements about Asian students. Seems to me they’ve earned the right to be there. Isn’t it kind of bass akwards to deny them admission to a university because they are such good students? And it’s certainly discriminatory to deny them admission because of their skin color. Cultural diversity on campus is a nice idea but not if it means discriminating against the most scholastically accomplished students. Seems to me the best students going to the best schools is the best path to a brighter future for the nation.

      3. I can agree that diversity has been overvalued under affirmative action policies but I think it still needs to be considered. Test-taking ability and a culturally-brutal work-ethic are not the only marks of a good and productive citizen. There is also creative talent in the arts and wisdom from overcoming adversities. I get the impression that trying to control this through social-engineering is like pushing on a string, not very effective.

      4. Being an Aussie, Jim, in which country we are almost overrun with Asian students, I would shrug. University fees have been allowed to expand at the same rate as non-academic staff (a scandal, this !); and without the paying-their-way Chinese, mostly, I can’t think what would happen to our unis. In other words, this is a very complex matter involving high finance and teaching standards as much as student numbers, she said weakly ..

      5. Our universities are supposed to be institutions of higher learning, not institutions of social engineering. To me that means skin color is, or should be irrelevant. I guess that aligns me with the current Supreme Court, for which I have absolutely no respect. Ugh. But I guess even this court might be right occasionally.

        Sadly, tuition at our colleges and universities has ballooned to the point that comfortably middle-class families, even with financial aid, can’t aspire to the nation’s top schools. And that’s a loss not only to the students but to the nation’s future.

  2. Okay, I have some strong feelings about these after spending some time on the internet hunting down info. I come from California, and when I was entering college, you could attend any state college or university tuition free if your SAT score was high enough. Yay! Smart girl with really shit economic background was able to go to the University of California, San Diego and then graduate debt free. Those days are long gone, but I think that there was real merit in this practice.

    Did I mention that I was a teacher for a quarter century working with disadvantaged students? I believe that the entire nation benefits from a highly educated workforce and that it is in our benefit to get kids with the desire and skills into the best educational situation that we can. On the other hand, it really makes me steam when rich or legacy kids have strings pulled to get into good colleges. What a waste if they don’t have the desire or skills to get that good education that virtually dropped into their laps.

    Evidently California has halted affirmative action, but they have maintained diversity on their campuses. It would be nice to know how they are doing this. I would like to see economic background considered on college applications instead of race, as I think that is more significant if you want to level the playing field a little.

    Then I started wondering about why these loans are so bad. I googled the cost to attend the University of Colorado, Boulder for one year and it is about $32,000 for one year! Holy Smokes!! I sent my son to that same school and managed to pay for all 4 years for less than that. No wonder people are taking loans. If the companies that are loaning the money are engaging in predatory lending practices (I have heard that some people who make every payment can end up owing more than the original loan amount…), then that is something that should be addressed. After the mortgage crisis that fueled the last big recession there were some laws passed to handle this; perhaps that should happen with student loans. If we need to do some debt relief right now to turn around the economy, that is what we should do.

    The conservative wing of the supreme court has lost legitimacy as it seems that they are corrupt, motivated by personal belief as much as the law, and on a mission to undo all the gains of the last half century.

    1. “Back in the day” in Oklahoma, graduating from high school guaranteed your admission to any Oklahoma college or university. I don’t recall that it was free, but at least admission was guaranteed. I agree about legacy students; legacy is in no way an indicator of the applicant’s scholastic ability or aptitude. The wealthy, of course, will always buy whatever they want.

      I agree with your assessment of the Supreme Court. The Kavanaugh hearings turned my stomach and recent revelations and decisions have cemented my opinion of the conservative justices.

      1. I was outraged about Kavanaugh getting onto the court. I felt that there should have been a disclosure of who paid off his debt, as it was pretty significant and an obvious ethical problem. Ironically, so many other women said something like … “did you see how he manhandled his wife!” … when talking about him. We all understood that this was a big slip on his part.

      2. It was his utter lack of decorum, respect for the proceedings, and history of drinking, womanizing, and lying that infuriated me. I still can’t believe he was confirmed.

      3. Also, “back in the day” graduating from high school was an achievement. I’ve been written up for failing students and as teachers we were actively pressured to pass everyone. It was awful as students quickly figured out that they could pass with almost no effort and teachers began to literally teach to the tests because their jobs depended on it. So much damage has been done.

      4. I’ve watched all that with horror as my grandchildren have grown up. Requiring that teachers and schools pass and ultimately graduate ill-prepared students in order to keep jobs and maintain or improve school rankings, financial support, or mere existence. Such a colossal disservice to our students, our educational system, and ultimately, to our nation.

  3. Our whole higher education for profit system grossly favors those who are wealthy. Everyone has opportunities sure, but are they anywhere near equal? How are kids supposed to afford 50-60k a year for school, it’s crazy!

    1. Hi, Mike, and welcome. My granddaughter will be a high school senior this year, and her parents and I are just aghast at the tuitions even for in-state universities. Even if scholarships and grants are factored in. I don’t know how anyone but the super rich can afford college these days. And that is so, so wrong. Yes, it’s a colossal disservice to our students and to the future of the nation.

      1. Several nice ones. And I’ve mentioned that route to my son. I guess we’ll just have to see what, if any, scholarships and grants are available when the time comes. And what my granddaughter hopes to do. Gotta admit I cringe when I hear her mention “Harvard” among others. Ambition will probably have to compromise with reality at some point.

      2. She. Criminal psychology was the last I heard. Profiling. This from someone whose passions the last few years have been theater and creative writing. Oh, she also mentions NYU. Loved NYC when she saw some shows there. I have no idea what her latest thinking might be.

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