"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Jeb, Jeb, Jeb

From today's Palm Beach Post editorial:

Finally, Jeb reverses Jeb

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Why the wait, governor?

With 600 fewer African-American freshmen enrolled in Florida colleges and universities this year because of his One Florida Initiative that banned affirmative action, Gov. Bush last week announced special programs aimed at increasing those numbers. After six years of denial, the governor says he'll push the Legislature for an additional $52 million in need-based financial aid money. His new interest comes better late than never, given the 1.6 percent drop in black student enrollment from last year.

The governor continued to play the symbols by appearing with students from historically black Florida A&M University to announce his executive order to fix his executive order. It speaks well for FAMU that its students demonstrated such grace, since Gov. Bush helped ensure that others could not be present. FAMU students were prominent in the massive 2000 protests in Tallahassee telling him that One Florida would do what it's done to black enrollment. The black freshmen who were enrolling at 17.6 percent statewide at the time of his anti-affirmative action dictate have dropped to 14.1 percent.

He at least could drop the pretense that he was doing it all for their benefit, but the governor typically refuses to blame One Florida, pointing to the increase in overall admissions and Hispanic student enrollment. That argument ignores the state's growth, its burgeoning Hispanic population and the fact that the black population also has continued to rise.

Gov. Bush can credit University of Florida President Bernie Machen for the parachute he grabbed in his attempt to break the One Florida free-fall. The affirmative-action proponent's Florida Opportunity Scholarship program at UF is designating $1 million for need-based scholarships and for students who are the first in their families to attend college. Gov. Bush is adopting both those ideas, perhaps because the name reminds him of his own Opportunity Scholarships school voucher program.

But the governor must deal with a Legislature that prefers to underfinance the university system while blessing recent tuition increases that fall hardest on minorities, who tend to be less affluent. Gov. Bush always has insisted that his anti-affirmative action experiment would need only minor correction. Now, he must correct for the lost opportunities of the students One Florida has left out. . . .

1 comment:

  1. This is two things going on at once. Is Jeb the villain for eliminating affirmative action? Or is the legislature the villain for raising tuition? Are they both villains? Are they in cahoots? I'm all for opportunity, but do the lower classes need to be DEFINED by their race? Isn't it enough that they be poor? I'm from Florida and I've met my share of poor crackers, too.