We want our doctors to be as competent as possible, so they can keep us as healthy as possible. We select them based on their education, experience, and recommendations about the quality of care they provide. For most of us, their race, gender, and ethnicity are irrelevant factors.
An experience Americans still take to heart is the fact that all of the civil right movements in this country were based on demands to not be treated differently based on race, sex, or sexual orientation. This speaks to why a majority of Americans agree with the recent Supreme Court decision outlawing race-conscious affirmative action in college and university admissions. That decision is designed to ensure that students are being admitted based on their academic qualifications.
Long before the Supreme Court ruling on race-conscious affirmative action, higher education institutions were using a variety of devices to increase enrollment and graduation rates for Black and Hispanic students removing the barrier to meet the same admissions standards as other students. Facilitating this soft bigotry of low expectations is a hallmark of the American left. Claiming to be the champions of dealing with the “root causes” of social problems, the left has never been interested in addressing the failure of public schools in the inner city, including the crime, drugs, and poverty plaguing Democrat-run urban America. Instead, affirmative action allows them to ignore their failed public school and policy system while pushing their abusive racism and victimhood narrative even further.
For example, The New York Times reported this month that the medical school at the University of California, Davis has developed what it calls the Socioeconomic Disadvantage (S.E.D.) scale to evaluate applicants for admission. The 99-point scale gives applicants points for coming from low-income families, for having parents who didn’t attend college, and for facing six other types of challenges.
Because socioeconomic disadvantage plays such a big role in admissions decisions at the medical school (on top of grades, test scores, essays, recommendations and interviews), 84% of first-year students at the UC-Davis Medical School are from disadvantaged families, 14% are Black and 30% are Hispanic. Among practicing physicians across the nation, about 6% are Black and about 8% are Hispanic.
The success of the UC-Davis Medical School in boosting Black and Hispanic enrollment has prompted 20 other schools to request more information from the medical school so they can possibly start similar programs. More colleges and universities will undoubtedly now adopt such programs to consider race in what could be seen as an end run against the SCOTUS affirmative action decision.
But while the liberal New York Times gushes about the success of the UC-Davis program, it fails to point out the obvious fact that coming from a disadvantaged background does nothing to make anyone a better doctor. On top of this, the Times doesn’t report the wide gap in test scores between Black and White students on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), which has been used since 1947 to measure knowledge students need to succeed as doctors. In 2021, White students taking the MCAT scored in the 71st percentile on average, while the average Black student score was less than half that, in the 35th percentile.
Rather than working to close this gap between the races (doing so would require progressives to repudiate their own agenda), more than two dozen medical schools have stopped requiring students to take the MCAT. Expect more to follow, just as many colleges have stopped using the SAT and ACT standardized tests for undergraduate admissions.
Medical school are also diluting the education they provide to students by reducing the time students spend on learning how to provide medical care so they can spend time learning about far-left woke concepts. The Association of Medical Colleges, which advises the national accreditation agency for medical schools, said in 2022 that medical students must learn about “diversity, equity and inclusion competencies” and “overlapping systems of oppression and discrimination that communities face based on race, gender, ability, etc.”
None of these lessons will improve the way doctors treat their patients. They are simply a bow to nonsensical political correctness and are watering down appropriately difficult medical school curriculums. We know Black and Hispanic students face very real obstacles — through no fault of their own — in admission to undergraduate schools and graduate schools. But eliminating affirmative action finally removes the cover-up available for the progressive political establishment’s generational abandonment of their own constituents.
The public elementary and secondary schools that many Black and Hispanic students attend are abysmal — underfunded, overcrowded, and focused not on the needs of students but on catering to the needs of teacher unions that make big contributions to Democratic political candidates. The whole of the progressive agenda is one of ruin and division, and it’s time to reject this insult to nation as a whole.
Clearly, instead of lowering college and graduate school admission standards in the name of diversity, our focus ought to be on doing a better job preparing students from kindergarten onward to meet high standards. If we don’t, we are allowing the progressive destruction of lives to continue from cradle to grave.
Educational vouchers that give parents the ability to send their children to private schools and high-quality public schools outside the attendance areas of their neighborhood schools at no charge are an excellent way of giving minority students a better education. Free tutoring services and academic enrichment programs for low-income students would also help level the playing field for many of those same young people.
Other steps that could increase diversity on college campuses include greater financial aid to low-income students so they can afford to attend, the elimination of preferential admissions consideration for the children of alumni (a practice known as legacy admissions) and ending special preference for admission to applicants whose parents donate money to a college.
As conservatives, we champion the importance of merit. This is a value that must be applied across the board, especially as we deal with the ‘traditions’ of both affirmative action and legacy admissions.