Disjointed Educationism

by Ivan Hild

10 May 2005

[From Instauration, August 1998]

The scuttlebutt about the federal agency in which I work is that President Bill has asked each office head to kick in a minimum of $20,000 from his research budget as a donation to the American Negro College Fund. Hearing of this request, my own bureau chief immediately upped the ante to $50,000, thereby making his agency the unofficial Angel of Minorityism and his own career a 24-carat sure bet so long as Princess Hillary remains head of the nation's Department of Ideology.

In keeping with this spirit, my agency years ago chose to finance the college education of two Afro-American sisters. Over time the academic ups and downs of these ladies have become the talk of the water cooler. As might be expected, not everything has gone swimmingly. Failed courses, swapped majors and round-robins of switched schools extended their learning adventure well beyond the traditional four years' duration.

Degree or no, these gals' futures are assured. Bureaucratic protocol demands an offer of employment be tendered lest an impression is given that the outlay had been a bad investment. Not that the girls actually attended primarily black schools. Such, apparently, was their scholarly self-confidence that both opted for the peppier pace of primarily white schools. Minorities on such campuses are often viewed as fish masquerading as fowl -- out of their element, unsure why they are there, possibly even doubting the essential merit of higher education itself. Most minorities on scholarships drift about so long as their racial gratuity endures, reverting back to the street culture when the money flow is stopped.

Students at "historically black" colleges seem happier with an environment that replaces academic struggle with the highjinks of sexual debauchery and social dissipation. The rub comes when Tiffany and Claron present themselves to the world of work, their dime-store degrees from Collegium Dementia having produced no standard English, no cogent prose, no skills in the drill of two-plus-two.

Some years back my government agency hired such a minority on the strength of his pending Ph.D. in finance from an "historically black" university. Roosevelt, it turns out, couldn't spell the word "finance," let alone discourse on its higher elements. From such a perspective, the value of these colleges might be questioned. Notwithstanding the dubious assertion that "a (minority) mind is a terrible thing to waste," such places separate the racial wheat from the chaff, leaving the primarily white schools to go about their business at their own pace. On the premise that Majority colleges stand as the nation's only fully functioning institutions, preserving their health is essential, perhaps difficult to evaluate but still critical. What isn't hard to estimate is the cost of maintaining minorities at primarily white schools. Not long ago an official of Georgetown University commented publicly that fully one-third of the tuition-paying students is earmarked for minority scholarships. For the average Georgetowner, this means at least $10,000 plowed into the privilege of sharing a lab table with Clevon in Bio 101. Beyond that, minorities spell social chaos or what campus police term the "C-V" factor -- not "curriculum vitae," but crime-and-violence. Strike one, the police say, and you eliminate the other.

With this in mind, it is surprising to find college administrators wringing their hands about the probable "whitening effect" on the college scene of pending anti-affirmative action litigation currently wending its way through the nation's courts. What concerns these eduphilosophers is the prospect that America of the 21st century will find itself "racially unprepared" for the challenge imposed by the New World Order. Such a vision, however, turns reality on its head. When America arrives at the point where minorities provide the leadership, there will be no world waiting to be led. Doubtless, minorities will play an increasing role in national affairs as time goes on. But that, as they say, is our problem not the world's. As for college administrators, they better stick to their own knitting instead of pondering deeper questions of race.

Meanwhile the political-racial questions remain hot-button topics in conservative think-tank circles. In most cases, the approach taken usually presumes an intrinsic value in maintaining America's world domination. Missing from debate is the consideration of what value can be assigned to a thousand little wind-up Jesse Jacksons, Reverend Farrakhans and Marion Barrys pratfalling and pinwheeling their way across the national stage. What does it matter passing on the torch of greatness given to us by Washington, Jefferson and Adams when the waiting hands are dusky?


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