Merit Matters

Merit Matters

© David Burton 2023


     Families saving for college and encouraging their kids to aim for the top are getting scammed by the left-wing college industrial complex. Colleges distort and outright lie about who gets accepted, education quality, and what it costs. Colleges and universities would be in jail if they were selling auto loans and used the same deceptive tactics.
     In late winter of 2023, Columbia University announced that it was permanently eliminating SAT and ACT test scores as part of the undergraduate admissions process - the first Ivy League school to go permanently test-optional. Columbia issued a slippery statement about making admissions “nuanced” and “respecting varied backgrounds, voices, and experiences.” The truth is, Columbia is ditching merit for diversity. Without admitting it, Columbia has replaced an academic mission - providing a rigorous education to a group of prepared students - with a new mission: Social Engineering.
     We can expect other colleges to follow Columbia’s lead.
     President Joe Biden made equity the mission of all federal agencies. On 1 March 2023, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona blasted the higher education industry’s “unhealthy obsession with selectivity” and urged a focus on “upward mobility.”
     That’s politics. But parents making the most significant investment of their lives, except buying a home, ought to know what they’re paying for: Are parents paying for a rigorous college classroom experience for their youngster or are they throwing away their money for a bit part in a social experiment?
     Colleges don’t want the public to discern what’s going on, and that’s why they’re railing against the U.S. News & World Report rankings, which are published annually. The U.S. News & World Report rankings factor in, among other things, test scores, graduation rates (after six years), how much debt students have when they leave, class size, and faculty credentials - precisely the facts families need to determine where they should be sending their college-bound children.
     Nearly all colleges made SAT and ACT tests optional during the pandemic. And most institutions are sticking with that temporary policy for the current year (2022-2023). Not the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which - as of March 2023 – had already reinstated testing. The MIT Dean of Admissions explained that it’s “not all about who comes in the door but also who goes out.”A quarter of students admitted to MIT in the fall of 2020 scored a perfect 800 on the math SAT, and none scored below 700. A decade earlier, when MIT admitted students with a wider range of scores, fewer made it to graduation.
     The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) slammed ACT and SAT tests as “unjustifiable barriers for historically underrepresented students of color.” The issue is more complicated. The tests are screened to prevent bias. But high schools in areas serving Black and Hispanic students tend to be lower quality and offer fewer advanced placement courses, leaving students unprepared.
     Sadly, most colleges are more interested in being politically correct than ensuring their student body can do the work.
     They’re also apprehensive about a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, due in June of 2023, that is expected to curtail or outlaw consideration of race in admissions. In lawsuits against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, test scores were used to show how these universities rejected high-scoring Asian and white applicants to promote diversity. After the June ruling, many institutions will likely eliminate testing to get rid of any evidence of racial favoritism. Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law predicts that institutions will find ways to prefer minorities “that can’t be documented as violating the Constitution.”
     A majority of Americans consider it wrong to favor any racial group in admissions. But right versus wrong be damned. The left-wing higher education establishment will likely find ways to do it and worse, cover it up.
     Race isn’t the only thing colleges lie about.
     The U.S. Education Department’s College Scoreboard lists colleges’ graduation rates. But check the fine print. Graduation is defined as earning a diploma within eight years. Who has time or money for that?
     A staggering 91% of colleges misrepresent their costs, according to a Government Accountability Office investigation.
     Columbia confessed to U.S. News & World Report that it falsified class sizes and faculty credentials.
     Despite nonstop virtue signaling, the higher education establishment in America is anything but virtuous. Americans need to stand up to these liars. And Americans need to remember that, with respect to a college diploma, merit, rather than diversity matters![1]

     College Admissions is no simple thing. From considering diversity, to academic accomplishments, to yield rate, among other influencing factors, the process of admitting students into college in today’s world is no easy task. While diversity is an important factor in creating collegiate communities, admissions itself should be based on a student’s capabilities and the level to which they worked to achieve the right to be accepted to any established college. The color of one’s skin does not determine the level of intelligence the college applicant possesses. Thus, any student of any background or race is capable of achieving high merit in some form if they really set their mind to it. Ripping away the dreams of college acceptance from a capable hard-working student with high merit just because they don’t meet the definition of “underrepresented minority” as presented by our government today is not only reprehensible but should be illegal - which is why all college admissions should be “color- blind” and based solely on the merit of the applicant.
     The legality of college admissions becomes tricky when it comes down to diversity and how to ensure a diverse student body. As getting into college has become an increasingly difficult feat in recent years, many court cases have become important in determining the legality of policies such as affirmative action, and other race-based admissions processes. Affirmative action has been present for many years in the United States college admissions system in an attempt to take factors such as “race, color, or national origin” into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group “in areas of employment, education, and business”. However, this policy came into question in 2003 in addressing the University of Michigan’s take on the affirmative action policy in which they automatically awarded 20 points to underrepresented minorities. In a 6-3 decision, the court decided, “’predetermined point allocations’ ensures that the diversity contributions of applicants cannot be individually assessed” and was therefore “unconstitutional” (Gratz V. Bollinger, 2003). In other words, admissions offices could not use “quotas” in admitting minority students, but they could consider one’s ethnicity as a plus when considering their application.
     Admissions should be more focused on a student’s ability to succeed than on their ethnicity. To hold a student of color to a lower standard than to say that a Caucasian student, is not only insulting but it is also discriminatory. The use of affirmative action does this by automatically giving “minority” students an advantage over those of “non-minority” backgrounds, regardless of class or socio-economic factors. Every applicant should be entitled to be aware that, when writing their application, it will primarily be their merit on which they will be judged.
     “Originally conceived as a means to redress discrimination, racial preferences have instead promoted it. And rather than fostering harmony and integration, preferences have divided the campus. In no other area of public life is there a greater disparity between the rhetoric of preferences and the reality”. It is suggested that merit not be solely based on test scores or GPA’s, but also extracurriculars in athletics, music, and other efforts, “But race and ethnicity (or gender or sexual preference) do not have a place on this list; these are traits, not achievements.
     Race Conscious college admissions drive our society backwards, away from the “color blind” society that is desired by so many. Merit is what makes an applicant a worthwhile college student - whether that be through good character, excellent grades or test scores, or outstanding extracurriculars - it doesn’t matter which of these factors ultimately gets a student accepted into college, but it does matter if a student who deserves an accepted spot through their hard work and determination is unfairly denied this opportunity because of an outdated and discriminatory practice such as affirmative action.[2]

     A Gallup poll in 2016 showed that most Americans believed colleges should admit applicants based solely on merit (70%), rather than taking into account applicants' race and ethnicity in order to promote diversity (26%). These results likely still apply today. Those findings suggested that Americans disagreed with the 2016 Supreme Court's decision in Fisher v. University of Texas, in which the court essentially ruled that colleges could continue to consider race as a factor in their admissions decisions to increase diversity on their campuses. Most Americans today support diversity while strongly opposing using it as an excuse to ignore merit or to relegate merit to a minor consideration in admitting students to institutions of higher learning.

     As reported in Gallup’s Minority Rights and Relations polls of 2003, 2007, 2013, and 2016, Americans' views on diversity and college admissions held steady over this timespan.
     In 2016, Gallup asked poll-takers about the appropriateness of colleges considering the race or ethnicity of students when making decisions on who to admit to college. The results were similar to the more generic Gallup trend question, with 65% disapproving and only 31% approving of the Supreme Court decision to encourage the consideration of diversity in deciding college admission.
     Americans were asked in this latter poll to react to a list of nine factors that colleges and universities could consider when making admissions decisions. The results showed that Americans tended to reject taking race into account in such decisions, with 63% saying race or ethnicity should not be a factor at all in admissions and a miniscule 9% saying that they should be a "major factor."
     This low support for taking race/ethnicity into account stands in sharp contrast to their widespread agreement that high school grades should be a major factor in admissions. A majority of Americans also say that scores on standardized tests and the types of courses a student takes in high school should weigh heavily. Apparently, Americans were strongly in favor of academic merit - as proven by academic performance - being a major factor in determining who should be admitted to our colleges and universities!
     While there were differences between whites, blacks and Hispanics in response to the question asking if race or ethnicity should be taken into account in college admissions decisions in order to promote diversity, these groups' views of the Supreme Court decision were similar, with all three much more likely to disapprove of it than approve.
     The Fisher v. University of Texas Supreme Court decision seems to run counter to Americans' belief that race should not be a factor in making college admissions decisions.[3]

     On Thursday, 29 June 2023, the Supreme Court banned affirmative action in college admissions.The majority of Supreme Court justices came to the conclusion that not only does merit matter, but that favoring someone because of his/her race is unconstitutional.
     Here are some of the key excerpts from the ruling:
     Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion: “The student must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual – not on the basis of race. Many universities have for too long done just the opposite. And in doing so, they have concluded, wrongly, that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned but the color of their skin. Our constitutional history does not tolerate that choice.”
     Justice Clarence Thomas, in a concurring opinion: “These policies (affirmative action) may harm even those who succeed academically. I have long believed that large racial preferences in college admissions ‘stamp (blacks and Hispanics) with a badge of inferiority.’ ”
     “While I am painfully aware of the social and economic ravages which have befallen my race and all who suffer discrimination, I hold out enduring hope that this country will live up to its principles so clearly enunciated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States: that all men are created equal, are equal citizens, and must be treated equally before the law.”[4]

     The Supreme Court ruling striking down affirmative action sent shockwaves through the Massachusetts education and political ecosystems. The decision ruled that admissions programs at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause by allowing for the consideration of race in the entrance process insted of admission based upon merit. For much too long, the college admission process in America has focussed on racial and ethnic diversity instead of merit and achievement. In effect, the process has ended up discriminating against whites and Asians while unfairly favoring Blacks and Hispanics.[5]

     Outlawing colleges’ overtly racist admissions policies was long overdue, and I’m glad the Supreme Court ruled the way it did yesterday. But is it going to have any impact in real life?
     Ask yourself why colleges like Harvard have already gone “test-optional,” meaning SAT’s and ACT’s and the rest of the standardized tests that can’t be gamed by academic Marxists are out the window. Harvard and UNC and all the rest of them are now going to rely a lot more on say, essays, in which otherwise unqualified high school students can make it very clear whether they’re members of protected classes, or not.
     In the 6-3 majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts warned against that obvious grift, saying that “universities may not simply establish through application essays or other means the regime we hold unlawful today.”
     Oh yeah? Just watch them do it, Mr. Chief Justice. They may get sued, but that’s where that $50 billion Harvard endowment will come in handy.
     The pampered pukes pushing this newest form of de jure racism don’t believe in equal rights or blind justice, any more than they did when their predecessors in the party were firing on Fort Sumter or starting the Ku Klux Klan. They believe they can do anything they want, anytime, and get away with it. Are they wrong?
     The proponents of this state-sanctioned racism really don’t like it when you quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” What part of that sentence do the modern-day racists not understand?
     There’s a book called “How to be an Anti-Racist". In the book, we read the following:
     “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”
     Pretty clear, right? Too clear, apparently, because the new edition includes a rewritten version of that paragraph: “The only remedy to negative racist discrimination that produces inequity is positive antiracist discrimination that produces equity….” So discrimination against whites and Asians is “positive.” And singling out some groups for discrimination based solely on their skin color is okay because it’s a form of “antiracist” racism? Have I got that straight?
     As Chief Justice Roberts wrote in yesterday’s decision: “Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a concurring opinion pointing out how absurd it is to enthusiastically promote racism to end racism. “It is not even theoretically possible to ‘help’ a certain racial group without causing harm to members of other racial groups. It should be obvious that every racial classification helps, in a narrow sense, some races and hurts others.” The proponents of modern anti-white, anti-Asian racism always love to talk about “disparate impact.” I would argue that’s a good description of what happens with certain white applicants at these elite schools.
     If you’re the trust-funded offspring of some filthy rich white family, Harvard isn’t going to hold your race against you. No, the only disparate impact over the last 50 years or so has been on whites and Asians from lower-middle-class, blue-collar families. As Justice Thomas noted, this outrageous, unconstitutional racism by Harvard and UNC that the Supreme Court struck down yesterday is nothing new for either school. “History has repeatedly shown that purportedly benign discrimination may be pernicious, and discriminators may go to great lengths to hide and perpetuate their unlawful conduct.”
     “Harvard’s ‘holistic’ admissions policy,” Thomas wrote, “began in the 1920s when it was developed to exclude Jews.” As for my alma mater, Thomas noted, “UNC also has a checkered history, dating back to its time as a segregated university . . . To the extent past is prologue, the university respondents’ histories hardly recommend them as trustworthy arbiters of whether racial discrimination is necessary to achieve educational goals.”
     “Harvard and UNC now forthrightly state,” Thomas noted, “that they racially discriminate when it comes to admitting students.” So Harvard and UNC, who acknowledge that their past racism was evil, now argue that their present racism is virtuous. Have I got that right? In his concurring opinion, Thomas even mentioned the history of racism against Asian-Americans, dating back to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.“Asian Americans can hardly be described as the beneficiaries of historical racial advantages.” So these colleges that in the past embraced “gentlemen’s agreements” against Jews and Jim Crow racism against blacks now espouse a new Politically Correct form of racism – “affirmative action,” against Asians and blue-collar whites.[6]

     You can have equality. You can equity. But according to the Supreme Court’s decision banning affirmative action, you can’t have both.
     The High Court declared that race can’t be a factor in admissions. As the Associated Press reported, the court’s conservative majority effectively overturned cases reaching back 45 years in invalidating admissions plans at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, the nation’s oldest private and public colleges, respectively. “Finally, the Court has ruled that colleges and universities will have to use only methods that are ‘race-neutral’ for admissions and will no longer be able to discriminate against or in favor of applicants based on their race.”
     “No student should have to worry that they will be prevented from entry into college because of their race, and thanks to today’s ruling, no student will.” [7]

     The phrase “all men are created equal” in the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence does not mean what many have assumed it to mean. Think about it – clearly, all men (and women) are not created equal. Some are borne with physical capabilities others do not have and become star athletes; some are borne with physical handicaps that others do not have; some possess more intelligence than others and become great scientists, writers, and philosophers.

     What should have appeared in the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence should have been the phrase “all men are created with equal opportunity”. All men and women should be allowed to go as far in life as their capabilities permit. It is opportunity that we must protect, not some concept of equality that has no real meaning. Equal opportunity means rewarding the individual on the basis of merit – what the individual has accomplished and what the individual is capable of accomplishing - and not on the basis of ethnicity, skin color, or sexual preference.

  1. College Industrial Complex’s Left-wing Lies, Betsy McCaughey, Amac, 7 March 2023.
  2. The Importance of Merit Only Admissions, Julia Jiampietro,, 3 October 2013.
  3. Most in U.S. Oppose Colleges Considering Race in Admissions, Frank Newport,,
    8 July, 2016.
  4. Supreme Court decision ends racism of affirmative action, Rick Sobey, Boston Herald: Pge 7,
    30 June 2023.
  5. Shockwaves ripple through Massachusetts after Supreme Court ends affirmative action, Howie Carr,
    Boston Herald: Pges 6-7, 30 June 2023.
  6. 5Supreme Court decision ends racism of affirmative action, Chris Van Buskirk and Grace Zokovitch,
    Boston Herald: Pge 8, 30 June 2023.
  7. 7Supreme Court puts equality over equity, Boston Herald: Pge 10, 30 June 2023.

  6 July 2023 {Article 582; Suggestions?_80}    
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