2012-10-12 / Editorial/Opinion

Merit Matters

At one time, merit mattered to Americans. That was the American dream. If you were good and you persevered, then you could achieve. Now, things seem to have changed considerably. When once the American dream was merit, it now seems to be diversity. The latest attack on merit comes from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (not to be mistaken with the NAACP, which is an entirely different organization), which wants the city’s Department of Education to insure that more minority students get into specialized high schools such as Brooklyn Technical High School, Stuyvesant High School and the Bronx High School of Science. There is now a test to get into those schools. A student who passes the test with more than the cut score gets in. Those who fail or are below the line have to look elsewhere. Nowhere does the test mention the gender, race, height, weight or sexual orientation of the candidate. It is pure merit. The NAACP Defense Fund looks at it differently. If there are fewer minority candidates who pass, they argue, then the test and the admissions process that flows from it must be racist. That is the same argument that federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis used when condemning the New York City Fire Department, and it is likely as flawed as that of the NAACP group. Black columnist John McWhorter put it better than we could. “You know that we’ve come a long way on civil rights when the NAACP Legal Defense Fund is comfortable insulting black people,” he wrote. “It’s easy to forget what [the NAACP] reasoning really means. It is saying that it’s racist to subject black and Latino kids to serious competition.” We agree with McWhorter. The idea that tests are racist because they are heavy on math and English is also the idea that blacks and Hispanics cannot compete in an academic setting, and we all know that is not true.

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