Dumbing down the naval academy

Bruce Fleming, a tenured professor of English at the Naval Academy, is accusing his school of “dumbing down the Naval Academy” and “dumbing down the officer corps” through the use of an admissions policy that favors minority candidates. Fleming’s claim appears to have merit.

According to the Washington Post, the Academy has proclaimed as a top priority the building of a student body that reflects the racial madeup of the Navy and of the nation. Consistent with this goal, its newly admitted group of plebes includes 435 minority group members in a class of 1,230. This is the most racially diverse class in the academy’s 164-year history.

While the Academy claims that these numbers have been attained “with no loss of scholarship,” that claim is inconsistent with the data. According to Fleming, 22 percent of this year’s plebes scored less than 600 on the math SAT. Last year, only 12 percent of the plebes failed to hit 600.

Against this evidence, the Naval Academy can boast that 76 percent of the class of 2013 came from the top 20 percent of their high school classes, the same proportion as a decade ago. But the test score data are more probative than the class rank data. For if, as appears, the Academy is now filling its ranks with top students from high schools with lower achieving students than before, the Academy is, indeed, being dumbed down, as Professor Fleming says.

Oh well, it’s only our nation’s security that’s at stake.

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