Sunday, October 16, 2011

What the Nass Hearing is Really About

Tomorrow's hearing on equal opportunity practices at UW-Madison is but one such action being taken by organizations and individuals around the country seeking to erode access to higher education.

Writes Adam Liptak in today's New York Times, "diversity is the last man standing, the sole remaining legal justification for racial preferences in deciding who can study at public universities." And diversity is under attack. According to Liptak, a case involving the University of Texas is likely to reach the Supreme Court sometime next year. That case will challenge the right of universities to focus any part of their admissions efforts on ensuring a racially diverse campus.

Why? Because some people, even well-educated ones, even Yale law professors whose work I regularly cite, fail to see its value. Says one, "The idea of racial and ethnic diversity altering the kind of conversation that goes on in the classroom is so overrated. Any experienced, conscientious teacher, regardless of race, could and would get on the table any of the arguments that ought to be there, including ideas normally associated with racism or other analogous experiences not personally experienced by the teacher."

Really? And how widespread is that sort of highly culturally competent teaching among today's professoriate?

Folks, Steve Nass may be an outsider in the Wisconsin Legislature, but he is far from alone in his opinions. Tomorrow's hearing has national implications. Please watch it with our students at the Memorial Union. Please discuss it with your friends. The educational opportunities of millions of children across this nation are at stake.

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