OH… THE PRIVILEDGE CROWD. WOW.. WOW USA USA USA SHIT – UNDERGRADUATE IN USA WAS ALREADY SHIT BECAUSE OF SHITTY COLLEGE, NOW, THIS IS GOING TO BE MORE SHIT – THIS IS A GOOD ARTCILE.. AND BTW, DID ANYONE NOTICE THAT2 THERE ARE INTRENATIONAL STUDENTS WHO SOMEHOW, COME FROM PLACES WHERE ITS HEIGHT OF ADVERSITY AND B SOMEHOW, I DONT KNOW HOW BUT SOMEHOE BUBBA.. WE HAVE A THING IN 1.2 BILOIONS ITS CALELD IIT.. AND NO AMOUNT OF PRIVILEDGE CAN GET U THERE – SOMEHOW.. 3RD WORLD MANAGES THE BIGGETS OPEN UNIVERSITY COMPETITION IN THE WORLD AND SOMEHOW SOMEHOW, THEY LAND IN US A AND THERE ALSO, THEY THE RICHEST OF THEM ALL IMMIGRANTS – SOMEHOW.. OBSESSION WITH IDENTITY POLITICIS, WILL RUIN MERITOCRACY ALSO IN USA – SOMEHOW, THIS WOULD HAPPEN FOR SURE . SOMEHOW : DISALCIMER, NO ONE IN MY FAMILY IS GOING TO TAKE SAT – EVERYONE HAS MASTER’S DEGREE IN MY FAMILY BUBBA.. SOMEHOW.. THIS IS WHAT I FEEL ABOUT USA..YEAH BUT OF COURSE IF WE HAS KIDS THEN I WOULD SUGGEST THEY STUDY IN OXFORD OR CAMBRI

The SAT’s Bogus ‘Adversity Score’

Are we really going to rank students on a one-to-100 pseudoscientific index of oppression?

By Thomas Chatterton Williams

Mr. Williams is the author of the forthcoming “Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race.”

  • May 17, 2019

CreditJoe Raedle/Getty Images

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CreditCreditJoe Raedle/Getty Images

Between my freshman and senior years of high school in the late ’90s,my father spent his evenings, weekends and vacations drilling my best friend and me for our SATs. My father was born black in the 1930s in the segregated South and became the first member of his family to go to college, let alone graduate school. These were lean years for my family, and my white mother had to return to work after decades as a homemaker. We just managed to rent a small house on the white side of our de facto segregated New Jersey suburb.

My best friend, who was black and Puerto Rican and attended parochial school with me, commuted from a less affluent and more ethnically diverse neighborhood where his parents, who did not have graduate degrees and were divorced but frequently living together and pooling resources, were upwardly mobile homeowners. When the time came to take the test, I scored higher, though my friend did well enough to attend a selective four-year college, where he flourished, eventually moving on to the Ivy League and Wall Street. Both of us worked hard, had some advantages — namely highly supportive and involved parents — and were able to succeed despite being members of a historically oppressed demographic.

I thought of those long hard hours studying at the dinner table when I heard on Thursday that the College Board, the company that administers the SAT, was appending an “adversity index” to aptitude scores — essentially a handicap to standardize “privilege.”

This “overall disadvantage level” will appear on something the College Board is calling an “environmental context dashboard.” It incorporates demographic and census data to profile high school students along a scale, from one to 100, of relative poverty, opportunity and achievement on the SAT in relation to their classmates. A score north of 50 indicates adversity; below that threshold lies privilege. Colleges will see this number, but students will not.

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Though there are a near infinitude of ways both explicit and subtle to experience challenges in life, the adversity index will restrict itself to just three categories: neighborhood environment (including factors like crime and poverty rates and housing values); family environment (the income, education and marriage status of parents and whether they speak English); and high school environment (aspects like the free lunch rate and rigor of the curriculum).

Discarding high school environment and race, which were the same for both me and my best friend, by these metrics, he would almost certainly have received an adversity bump relative to me because his home was in a poorer neighborhood and, like many of his neighbors, his parents at the time weren’t married. His mother often spoke Spanish at home, so he may have been counted as coming from an English as a Second Language household (an indicator of adversity even though Asian students born to immigrant parents often outperform upper-middle-class white Americans on standardized testing). And while we’d both benefited from his tutelage and presence in our lives, I alone would have been penalized for my father’s dogged educational attainment. That my family lived, albeit precariously, on the white side of town would have been a further demerit.

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Yet exactly what constitutes privilege and disadvantage can be counterintuitive: There is no metric to take into account the casual racism that I had to navigate in my neighborhood, a difficulty I was keenly aware friends of mine on the more socially cohesive and nurturing black side of town were often able to avoid.

No two lives are commensurate and not all adversity can be taken into account. But the College Board is attempting to dictate which forms matter and which do not. It cannot — and does not — attempt to assess the mental toll of being called a “monkey” on your walk home, or of living through the premature death of a parent or sibling. It will not capture the texture of life with an educated but alcoholic or emotionally abusive parent.

And so the dehumanizing message of the new adversity index is that America’s young people are nothing but interchangeable sociological points of data — and the jagged complexity of an individual life somehow can be sanded down, quantified and fairly contrasted.

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As the recent admissions scandals at Yale, the University of Southern California and other colleges have demonstrated, the rich and entitled enjoy an astonishing array of ways to game the system, and aptitude tests are far from perfect.

It is for this reason and others that universities rely on a cocktail of broader considerations — most likely including any and all of the factors on the College Board’s index. Though the adversity index uses proxies, “The purpose is to get to race without using race,” said Anthony Carnevale, the director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce who previously worked for the College Board, in The Wall Street Journal.

The college admissions system already takes into account racial identity. Thus, whatever one’s views on affirmative action, this new score introduces an inscrutable redundancy — one that cannot be disputed or appealed.

Like my father, I used to believe that hard work and mastery of a standardized exam was the fairest way for students like me to compete with those who had far more resources. We put our faith in the one thing that was in our control. That the College Board will now manipulate the outcome with no transparency is a chilling step in the wrong direction. It reifies overly simplistic notions of difference that fall apart under scrutiny (Nigerian immigrants have the highest levels of education in the nation), and codifies the patronizing fallacy that demographics are destiny.

The more difficult truth is that a genuinely equitable society requires greater educational opportunities being extended to poor and disadvantaged children long before an adversity rating can be applied as a Band-Aid on their college applications.

Yet in retrospect it seems inevitable that the social media-fueled rhetoric of comparative fragility has careened here, to a pseudoscientific index of oppression. No matter how well meaning the intentions, we have been conditioning ourselves to interpret the world exclusively through the overlapping lenses of race — or its euphemisms — and privilege. But one of the most valuable gifts a liberal arts education can offer is the jarring and ultimately liberating realization that differences in money and social background do not, and cannot, explain everything.

Thomas Chatterton Williams (@thomaschattwill) is a national fellow at New America, a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine, and the author of the forthcoming “Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race.”

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Wanted to make sure you saw this

From: Derrick Johnson, NAACP <info>
Date: Sat, May 18, 2019 at 2:10 AM
Subject: Wanted to make sure you saw this
To: <hotrachel2>

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Friend,

On the 65th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, I wanted to make sure you saw this piece in USA Today.

On Brown v. Board of Education, Trump judicial nominees won’t commit to US law and values

Brown is more than a historic ruling. It paved the way for civil rights progress and laid the very foundation for equal protection under the law.

"’Do you believe Brown v. Board of Education was correctly decided?’ This might seem like a strange question to ask a judicial nominee in 2019. Sadly, it is starkly relevant thanks to recent signals from the Supreme Court that it is open to reconsidering long-established precedents and foundational values.

No decision is more emblematic of these precedents and values than the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education. It did more than rule that segregation in schools was unconstitutional — it paved the way for the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965. It laid the very foundation for our modern understanding of equal protection under the law." READ MORE

In solidarity,

Derrick Johnson
@DerrickNAACP
President and CEO
NAACP

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