The University of California (UC) has just announced that it is canceling the use of the SAT and ACT for admissions. UC has therefore struck a major blow against educational standards in America, in the name of 'racial equity.'
Every objective test in America has, for decades, repeated the same race differentials: Asians score the highest, followed by whites, Hispanics, and blacks. This has also been true for standardized admissions tests such as the SAT and the ACT. Any meritocratic college admissions process, which relies on standardized admissions tests as a way to provide a comparable scale by which to judge all applicants, must reflect the results of these differentials if it wishes to remain true to the American principle of equality of opportunity.
Colorblind Americans feel joy when the most meritorious Americans are admitted to college, full stop.
Americans with particular concern for blacks take these results as the necessary information to prompt a cultural transformation in black America to place greater emphasis on college preparation.
The neo-racist left has hated this enduring truth for decades and has tried every means possible to avoid its consequences. They have used affirmative action, “diversity,” and now “equity” and “antiracism” to sidestep the legal bars to explicit race preferences. Increasingly, they have tried to eliminate standardized admissions tests, period, since they never produce equality of outcomes among different racial groups.
The last alternative has been especially popular in California, where the California Civil Rights Initiative (spearheaded by NAS members Glynn Custred and Tom Wood) has prevented the University of California and California State University from formally adopting the race preference mechanisms of their peers in higher education. The University of California has now discarded the use of the SAT and ACT, because there the neo-racist left, if it is to discriminate as it wishes, has no alternative but to discard entirely meritocracy and equality of opportunity.
Possibly a federal judge may judge this decision to be unconstitutional, since it was taken with clear discriminatory intent. Certainly the University of California, dedicated to woke race preferences, will now decline as an academic institution. Equally certainly, the National Association of Scholars will continue to condemn for so long as it continues this perversion of American principles and the spirit of higher education.
But it is worth taking a moment to examine some of the tensions that the new dispensation will produce.
The UC’s decision is a major financial blow to the College Board—and if it spreads nationwide, a devastating one. The College Board is a major member of the progressive nongovernmental organization establishment, committed to using its test-assessment quasi-monopoly to impose on America progressive propaganda and attempts to sidestep meritocracy in the name of equity. The woke Establishment is torn between a wing attempting to preserve enough scraps of meritocracy for the regime to function, and a wing devoted to revolutionary fanaticism. UC’s decision is a victory for the fanatics. We shed no tears for financial hardship suffered by the College Board, but we note that their defeat is a defeat for the relative moderates of the woke regime.
The new dispensation is likely to alienate Asian Americans yet further from the woke regime, since they are likely to be the greatest losers from scrapping the SAT and ACT from UC admissions. It may also alienate Hispanics, who have achieved steady gains at UC and CSU under the current regime. It is unclear what the effect will be on whites—eliminating the use of the SAT and ACT may advantage them vis-a-vis Asian Americans even as it disadvantages them vis-a-vis blacks and Hispanics. Observers interested in the political effects of woke policy should look closely at the consequences in California.
Regardless of the political effects, UC’s decision merits condemnation and should be repealed as soon as possible. The woke establishment rivets chain after chain upon America and sometimes it is hard to tell which matter the most. UC’s decision matters. It may well be the death knell of meritocracy and equal opportunity in American higher education.
David Randall is Director of Research at the National Association of Scholars and Project Director of the Civics Alliance.