Mindless racial discrimination

On this, Martin Luther King’s birthday, we present a reminder of how far our society has strayed from Dr. King’s vision of judging people by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. I’m referring not to the Democratic presidential primary, but to the situation at the prestigious Mark Twain Intermediate School in New York City which is now the subject of a law suit filed by our friends at the Center for Individual Rights (CIR).
Mark Twain uses lower admissions standards for white students than for non-white students. It does this pursuant to a 1974 court order in which the school district was required to admit specified percentages of minority and white students to the school. Population shifts since 1974 have increased the number of minority residents in the district. Thus, the old quota, which was designed to help desegregate the school, now limits the number of minority students who can attend.
Enter CIR. It represents Anjan Rau and Kanchan Katapadi, the Asian-Indian parents of Nikita Rau, who was denied admission to Mark Twain last year. Nikita scored 79 on the entrance evaluation for “instrumental music talent.” White students were admitted that year with scores as low as 77. But Nikita and other minority students were required to score 84.4 or better to be admitted.
School officials admit that the quota doesn’t serve any purpose, but have taken no steps to have the court lift it. Accordingly, CIR yesterday filed a class action lawsuit seeking to block the quota and overturn the consent decree from which it arises.
As racial quotas have become a way of life, bureaucracies have become increasingly mindless about the way they employ them. This mindlessness played a major, but largely unrecognized role, in the Supreme Court’s decision (both the plurality opinion and Justice Kennedy’s concurrence) last June in companion quota student assignment cases from Seattle and Kentucky. But, as CIR’s president Terry Pell observes, the Mark Twain example takes to a new level “the carelessness with which school officials routinely sort and classify students by race in America today.”


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