Kansas City Star reporter Mara Rose Williams has made the mistake of taking seriously a report from the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center on how well black students fare at America’s colleges and universities. Having made that mistake, Williams compounds the folly by presuming she can make sense of the report. She cannot.
“Missouri and Kansas rank among the lowest in the nation in a new, first of its kind report card measuring how well public colleges and universities are serving the nation’s 900,000 black undergraduates,” she concludes, proving the old GIGO adage, ‘garbage in, garbage out.”
The essential flaw of the study is that it blames colleges and universities for the failures of the public school establishment and the historic weaknesses of the black community/family.
The factors the evaluators rate include “the percentage of black students compared to the percentage of black people 18- to 25 years old in the state; the graduation rate of black students; the number of black women versus black men in the student body; and the ratio of black students to black faculty.”
Without intending to, Kevin McDonald, the chief inclusion, diversity and equity officer for MU and the University of Missouri System, spoke to the reason the report measures nothing meaningful.
“He admits one of the more challenging areas is keeping black faculty once they’ve been hired,” writes Williams. “The competition is tremendous, he said, and the pool of potential black faculty is shallow.”
Although race-based faculty hiring and student recruiting would seem to flout civil rights laws, they are nonetheless a given on campus and have been for years. This competition makes it almost inevitable that colleges like Northwest Missouri State University (NMSU) in Maryville would score, as Williams laments, “a mere .75, landing it among the 35 lowest-scoring schools in the nation.”
In truth, non-urban colleges of middling reputation like NMSU cannot compete for ambitious black faculty or quality black students in any number. In that these schools face criticism if their diversity “metrics” fall short, however, they have little option but to recruit whatever black faculty and students they can.
Unprepared for college, many of these students will drop out despite the administration’s best efforts. The better black faculty meanwhile will find better teaching jobs or move into the lucrative “diversity and inclusion” racket.
A book could be written on the flaws of this study. The report notes, for instance, “At more than three-fourths of public institutions, traditional-aged Black students are under-enrolled relative to their residency in the states.”
States that perform relatively well include Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Hampshire. States that fare relatively poorly include Missouri, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi. All of the latter are home to HBCU’s, historically black colleges and universities. None of the former are. Yet, the study excludes HBCU’s from consideration without acknowledging that they drain potential students from other state colleges.
For some reason, too, report writers make an issue of the fact that black women comprise only 52 percent of the black population compared to the 56 percent for females in the white college population. For universities, however, the overrepresentation of females is a problem, a growing one, that they are trying to rectify.
The reality is that for the last half century colleges and universities have sabotaged their standards and sacrificed their integrity in a doomed effort to rectify problems that should have been addressed before the students ever showed up on campus.