For the past several decades, conservative groups have sought to undermine affirmative action in college admissions with relentless court challenges. Now the “Whites-first” Trump administration is lending its hefty weight to those efforts, according to the New York Times, with a plan to investigate and sue universities over affirmative action policies “deemed to discriminate against white applicants.”In a cynical ploy, however, the Justice Department is fronting Asian Americans for its “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions” by reviving a claim that 64 Asian American organizations lodged with the Obama administration accusing Harvard University of discriminating against Asian American applicants to the benefit of — get this — white applicants!It is no secret that college admission policies hurt academically high achieving Asian Americans, who are overrepresented on elite U.S. college campuses. Harvard University’s class of 2021 is 22 percent Asian — four times their share in the national population. The proportion would be even higher if Harvard adopted a race-blind policy. In California, which prohibits consideration of race in college admissions, Asian Americans constituted 42 percent of the new freshman class this Fall at the California Institute of Technology (and that is not counting the 9 percent of international and 4 percent of mixed race students, many of whom are Asian as well). At the University of California system, a third of the freshman class this year is Asian American, twice their proportion in the state population. The percentage is even higher at the flagship universities — 43 at UC-Berkeley and 40 at UC-Los Angeles.The problem with affirmative action policies in college admissions is that they have always rested on a very flimsy edifice. In its landmark University of California v. Bakke case in 1978, a splintered Supreme Court ruled that “the use of race as a criterion in admissions decisions in higher education was constitutionally permissible.” Contrary to popular assumption, however, the court rejected as unconstitutional not just quotas, but also race considerations to address historical inequities. Instead, the Court carved out a very narrow exception to consider race as one factor in “a far broader array of qualifications and characteristics” for the laudable objective of encouraging exposure “to the ideas and mores of students as diverse as this Nation of many peoples.” The constitutional prohibition against quotas or to rectify historical wrongs has been repeatedly underscored by the Supreme Court. In 2003 in Grutter v. Bollinger, it affirmed the University of Michigan Law School’s diversity policy, which served, it said, to promote “cross-racial understanding … better prepares students for an increasingly diverse workforce and society … and better prepares them as professionals.” Affirmative action dodged another bullet last year when the admissions policy of the University of Texas at Austin, which considered race as one of several factors, was upheld narrowly by the Court by a 4-to-3 vote. Affirmative action is easily defensible if colleges are willing to be honest about the character of college education and stop attempting to perpetuate a myth of meritocracy rooted around SAT scores and high school grades. Empirical evidence establishes that neither are flawless predictors of either academic performance in college or professional success subsequently in life. Furthermore, most elite colleges have historically given preference to children of alumni and major donors, kids who play obscure sports, such as lacrosse, classical musical instruments, like the cello, or partake in other affluent indulgences. And let us not forget, of course, the non-academic stream for athletes.However loathe Universities may be to admit it, since it undermines their simplistic numerical assessment tools, education and learning are more than about just grades and scores. As Justice Anthony Kennedy pointed out in Fisher v University of Texas last year: “Class rank is a single metric, and like any single metric, it will capture certain types of people and miss others…. A university is in large part defined by those intangible qualities which are incapable of objective measurement but which make for greatness …. Considerable deference is owed to a university in defining those intangible characteristics, like student body diversity, that are central to its identity and educational mission.”Ambition, creativity, overcoming adversity, originality, etc. are surely as compelling factors as SAT scores and grades at the altar of which both educational institutions and critics of affirmative action worship. Great universities don’t just churn out — nor do businesses need — robotic nerds who score well on standardized tests. It is doubtful that even the Asian Americans protesting their exclusion would be all that excited about attending a university with majority Asian American students.Let us dare to celebrate merit in all the diverse forms of mind and spirit — grades and SAT scores be damned. Related Items
Serena Williams ended a nine-month title drought with a 7-6 (5), 6-3 win over Madison Keys in an all-American Italian Open final Sunday.Williams’ previous title came in Cincinnati in August – a month before her attempt at a calendar-year Grand Slam ended with a semifinal loss to Roberta Vinci at the US Open.It’s Williams’ fourth title in Rome and it comes exactly a week before the French Open begins. It was the first time two American women have met in a final on clay since Serena beat older sister Venus in the 2002 French Open.The last all-American final in Rome was in 1970, when Billie Jean King beat Julie Heldman. In the men’s tournament, top-ranked Novak Djokovic was facing Andy Murray in a rematch of last week’s Madrid Open final.In the Rome record book, Serena drew level with Conchita Martinez and Gabriela Sabatini, who also took four titles at the Foro Italico. Chris Evert holds the women’s record with five titles while Rafael Nadal holds the overall mark with seven.It was the 70th title overall in Serena’s career.The 21-year-old Keys was playing in the biggest final of her career. She posted personal best results at all four majors last year, including reaching the Australian Open semifinals and the Wimbledon quarterfinals.The 24th-ranked Keys broke Serena at love in the opening game of the match and hit six aces in her opening two service games to take a 3-1 lead.As Serena became more aggressive, however, Keys hit two double faults to hand the break back, making it 3-3.advertisementIn the tiebreak, Serena took control with a wicked cross-court forehand that Keys couldn’t get back then closed it out on her first set point with a big serve out wide that Keys returned long.After taking the first set, Serena pumped her fists and yelled to herself, ‘Come on!'”In the second set, Serena’s only real trouble came when she was broken while serving for the match at 5-2. But she quickly ended it the next game, concluding the tournament without dropping a set.Serena hit only 13 winners to Keys’ 17 but had fewer unforced errors – 24-32 – and converted five of her six break-point opportunities.Serena improved to 16-0 against Americans since losing to Venus in the Montreal semifinals in 2014. Her last loss to an American in a final came against Venus at Wimbledon in 2008.
March 10, 2016 497 Views in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News CFPB Director: Mortgage Credit is “Still Too Tight, In My View” Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Mortgage Credit 2016-03-10 Staff Writer Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray called attention to the mortgage industry, particularly lenders, in a speech on Wednesday, where he highlighted some of the progress and pitfalls that the housing market faces.An Urban Institute report recently confirmed Cordray’s remarks by finding that between 2009 and 2014, 5.2 million borrowers with less-than-pristine credit were unable to get a mortgage loan due to tight lending.The data showed that between 2009 and 2013, 4 million loans could have been originated if credit standards were like 2001’s levels. On top of this total, an additional 1.2 million borrowers were unable to get a mortgage loan.”A tight credit box means that fewer families will become homeowners at an opportune point in the housing market cycle, depriving them of a critical wealth-building opportunity,” Urban Institute said. “It slows the housing market recovery by limiting the pool of potential borrowers. Ultimately, excessively tight credit hinders the economy, as it slows all the associated economic activity that comes with home buying, such as furniture purchases, landscaping, and renovations.”In his speech, Cordray stated that the millennial generation is beginning to welcome homeownership despite the stereotype surrounding this generation, but as they are facing with the issue of tightening credit.”Credit is still too tight, at least in my view, but we can now look in the rear-view mirror and see that some of the undue fears people had about legal liability under the QM rule, or market paralysis due to streamlining the mortgage disclosure forms, can be put in healthier perspective,” Cordray explained. “There is ample opportunity in the mortgage market as it continues to heal, and you should be doing what you do best: serving your customers through great deals and great customer service. Homeownership still remains the most effective engine of wealth accumulation for the American middle class, and you are the ones who are making that happen and rebuilding a key marketplace that failed this country so brutally less than a decade ago.”Despite the bleak credit picture, mortgage lending practices have improved since the financial crisis, Cordray said in his speech.”The market crash itself led to many changes, with bad actors and bad practices no longer feasible in a marketplace that had all-too-belatedly exposed the risks inherent in irresponsible and often predatory lending. Indeed, if anything, the market meltdown produced an overreaction, marked by very tight credit and historically low levels of consumer demand and available supply,” he said. “For those of us engaged in the important work of protecting consumers, these developments posed a very tricky task in implementing reforms. We were well aware of the concerns many had raised that the cost of protecting consumers would constrict the availability of credit and even drive many financial service providers out of business altogether. Share