The Harvard Professor Who Bemoans Higher Education

Most college professors applaud what American higher education does and want to see it expand to include even more students. One dissenter of note, however, is Harvard philosophy professor Michael Sandel. In his latest book, The Tyranny of Merit, he argues that higher education has become a big part of the problem he sees with … Continue reading “The Harvard Professor Who Bemoans Higher Education”


Leaving the Blight of Higher Education: Part II–Farewell, Faculty

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part essay; part I can be read here. The previous essay dealt with the moral decline of the student body in higher education—one of the motives behind my recent retirement after three decades of teaching college English. When I began teaching, most of the English faculty members, … Continue reading “Leaving the Blight of Higher Education: Part II–Farewell, Faculty”



The Last Refuge of Pure Meritocracy

Racial consideration for college admissions hearkens back to Grutter v. Bollinger, the landmark decision by the Supreme Court in 2003. It held that affirmative action programs can pass muster as long as they are “narrowly tailored” in order to achieve the “compelling interest” of promoting diversity on college campuses. Colleges across the country have since … Continue reading “The Last Refuge of Pure Meritocracy”


Whither Race-Neutrality in California?

In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 209 by an impressive 56-to-44 percent majority. Prop 209 amended the state’s constitution to prohibit the granting of preferences based on race or gender. It inaugurated a series of campaigns, led by businessman and University of California Regent Ward Connerly, that by 2006 had established similar prohibitions in 10 … Continue reading “Whither Race-Neutrality in California?”


Testing Affirmative Action

Even though Harvard won the first round in its battle with Students for Fair Admissions, a case challenging the university’s affirmative action policy, the judge did not address the deep and difficult issues that racial preferences involve. For lawyers and judges who will grapple with this issue in the future, we would like to advance … Continue reading “Testing Affirmative Action”


Did You Know? Eight States Ban Affirmative Action in College Admissions

Earlier this month, the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts released its ruling in Students For Fair Admissions v. Harvard University. That means affirmative action—its application and limitations—is back in the news. In her ruling, federal Judge Allison Burroughs wrote, “Ensuring diversity at Harvard relies, in part, on race-conscious admissions. Race conscious admissions … Continue reading “Did You Know? Eight States Ban Affirmative Action in College Admissions”


Round One—Harvard Beats Asian Americans

In a long-awaited decision, federal trial judge Allison Burroughs has ruled that, while Harvard does consider a student’s race in determining who gets in and who doesn’t (“the use of race in and of itself is admitted”), nonetheless Harvard is not breaking the law. That outcome was not surprising, and the judge’s opinion is unlikely to … Continue reading “Round One—Harvard Beats Asian Americans”


Identity Politics Versus Basic Logic: Should Colleges Offer Affirmative Action for the Female Majority?

Academic postmodernism is no stranger to the idea that classical Enlightenment values such as reason, equal treatment, and individual agency should be cast aside for the sake of racial and sexual grievances. We should denounce reason and science as the legacy of “dead white men”—or so we are told. Western academia has become both ideologized … Continue reading “Identity Politics Versus Basic Logic: Should Colleges Offer Affirmative Action for the Female Majority?”


The New Head of the Office for Civil Rights Charts a Very Different Course

Last month, the Senate voted to confirm Kenneth L. Marcus as assistant secretary for civil rights in the Department of Education. The vote was 50-46, with not one Democrat supporting him—a point I will return to presently. In that position, he will head up the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). This is the second … Continue reading “The New Head of the Office for Civil Rights Charts a Very Different Course”