Money and Affirmative Action

Money and Race in Admissions, Affirmative Action, Affirmative Action Advantage
A Harvard dean found that the wealthy have advantages in higher education. No, really.

There’s a scene in Billy Madison in which Adam Sandler’s character — after a long, meandering speech — is told by a man who really should be moderating political debates, “What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I’ve ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent responses were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points and may God have mercy on your soul.” It’s this scene that comes to mind after we read a piece in The Harvard Crimson in which Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean Bridget Terry Long offers insight into her research on college financial accessibility.

Harvard Dean Asserts Tutoring, Writing Help Favor the Wealthy

As Joshua S. Arcbibald reports for The Harvard Crimson in a piece entitled “Affirmative Action Can Limit the Influence of Money in Higher Education, Harvard Ed School Dean Says,” “Long, who researched college financial accessibility before becoming dean in July 2018, said differences in financial resources can widely affect students’ educational opportunities: Lower-income students cannot afford tutoring, test preparation, writing help, or the tuition at schools with the resources to offer students high-quality academic and college admissions advice…’This also goes hand in hand with the discussions about affirmative action, the discussions about outreach and financial aid; that students are not one dimensional, that everything is not a test score, and that we have to take into account multiple measures and what they’re going to contribute to a community,’ Long said.”

We Didn’t Need a Harvard Dean to Teach Us That

No way. Tutoring, test prep, writing help, and tuition costs can advantage the wealthy and preclude low-income and underrepresented minority students from our nation’s elite schools? Really? This is the work of a Harvard scholar? Oy vey. Maybe we’re missing something but we could have saved this researcher — who surely conducts other more noteworthy research — some time. And the notion that Affirmative Action can — rightly — counterbalance some of these unfair advantages of the wealthy? We are dumber for having read about it. Word of advice to Harvard’s scholars (including those that wrote the fancy pants Harvard GSE “Turning the Tide” paper that inspired a yawn): don’t research what the world already knows to be true.

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