Homework, Por Favor

Heather Mac Donald, National Review Online, September 12, 2008

Unless the educational achievement of non-Asian minorities in the U.S. improves, America’s imminent demographic changes do not bode particularly well for its technological competitiveness. By 2023, the majority of youth under 18 will be non-white, and the greatest portion of non-whites will be Hispanic. The number of college-aged Latinos is expected to nearly triple, from 3 million today to 8 million by 2040, but the number of Hispanics actually enrolled in college will just double—to 2 million. Once in college, few of those students will graduate with a science or engineering degree. In 2006, only 7 percent of bachelors degrees in science, math, and technology were awarded to Hispanics, and the trends are not promising. In 2007, the math SAT scores of Hispanic students in California, home to the largest proportion of Hispanics in the country, dropped to 450, while rising for whites and Asians to 549 and 564, respectively.

Here’s a suggestion to college presidents and their vast retinue of bureaucratic non-entities: If you want to preserve America’s scientific edge, shut down your school’s MEChA student chapters, your Latino-freshmen orientations, and your Chicano-studies majors. Participation in “diversity functions,” it turns out, torpedoes the grades of Hispanic science majors. Hispanic science students who spend time hanging out at Aztlan-empowerment clubs and the like have significantly lower grades than Hispanic science students who stay away from the multicultural ghetto. What improves Hispanic college students’ science GPAs? Make sure you’re sitting down: doing homework.

Such are the findings of a study published in the July/August Journal of College Student Development, proving that there is no piece of common sense too self-evident not to startle our pedagogical elites. The study examines the factors that affect the performance of Hispanic science majors. Its authors, a professor and graduate student at the University of Southern California’s education school, are clearly not happy with the results.

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It may be that America can continue to rely on its Asian and Caucasian students to retain its scientific edge. A wiser policy, however, would be to shut down every last Cesar Chavez theme house and turn it into mandated study hall. Cracking the books is the only sure way anyone has ever figured out to improve student performance, no matter whether you are blue, purple, or green. The sooner we can get that message out, the safer America’s technological future will be.

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