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  • Writer's pictureElliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF 6.30.2023

“Are you with me now?” AJ Ryder

I had a whole bunch to update for the week but I’m going to say a few things about yesterday’s Supreme Court rulings.

First off, Affirmative Action looks very different on the ground in communities of color than it does in the courts. If you are in schools everyday working with students, seeing their brilliance and having it denied is devastating. How you are smart matters. We are using too many archaic measures for a world gone by and a world that is not nearly as inclusive as it should be for all.

The Score – “It’s all in the game”

College admissions to ivy and elite private and public colleges is a game that the wealthy have always come out ahead on. The numbers have not changed of wealthy youth in elite institutions. Research conducted in 2017 by an economist, “Raj Chetty, found that students from families in the top 1 percent of earners were 77 times as likely as poor students to be admitted to the Ivy League. And you’ve got school after school after school where you’ve got more kids from families in the top 1 percent than families in the bottom 60 percent.”

Legacy admissions, private schools with connections and pay to play are all part of the admissions game. Then we say to students with little means and no connections in communities of color, “You can make it if you try.” Sure, that happens, and Affirmative Action may have supported those acceptances, but this playing field is not level. Not by a long shot.

Next, a note from Frank Wilson makes it clear that for the same reason regular schools are afraid of chatbot, I would argue the admissions people should be as well but with one caveat, we have already conditioned our students our to behave like chatbots because in almost all schools our students are doing work that lacks meaning and shows up, void of a true narrator.

Here’s what Frank Wilson wrote to me as part of our ongoing conversation about chatbot:

“You can’t write about something, or tell a story about it, unless you have a relationship to it. And what exactly have you been screaming about in BP all these years, what‘s messed up about regular schools? They pretend you can learn about something without finding or building a real-life relationship to it.

The comic twist at the end of this is that in regular schools they seem to be saying AI essays are hard to spot. Well, duh! Of course, they would be, because the absent narrator problem is the same as with AI generated text. Actual students in those schools are taught to write from algorithms rather from relationships.”

So, what to change:

Standards and how we measure – Think IBPLC that measures how you are smart where the student is the narrator.

Eliminate legacy and pay to play admissions.

Eliminate SAT’s

Eliminate k-12 gifted and talented and admissions and magnet schools.

Ensure if you get into an ivy or elite universities including state schools, it doesn’t wreck you financially.

All this is part of the fight to gain a level playing field and of course there’s more.

If any of these make you cringe, think about why it makes you feel that way.

In addition, get more access to adults around each student interests and the things that a student finds meaningful in their lives.

For her part, Justice Sotomayor struck a defiant note.

“The pursuit of racial diversity will go on,” she wrote. “Although the court has stripped out almost all uses of race in college admissions, universities can and should continue to use all available tools to meet society’s needs for diversity in education. Despite the court’s unjustified exercise of power, the opinion today will serve only to highlight the court’s own impotence in the face of an America whose cries for equality resound.”

We have the tools that elevate the actions and voices of our youth as narrators of their own lives. Therein lies the difference.

Be well!

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