Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Proposal 2: Mayor Heartwell and the U of M

The fallout from Proposal 2 continues. Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell has apparently decided that he wants the taxpayers of the city to pay for a federal lawsuit to stop the implementation of Proposal 2. Heartwell uses the same logical contortions of groups like BAMN to try and make an argument that banning racism and sexism somehow is discriminatory. The article linked above actually says that Prop 2 is a "civil rights violation." It's not clear if that's a Heartwell quote or summary of his position, but it's typical of the utter hypocrisy of the pro-racism lobby that Heartwell apparently belongs to.

But an even more interesting issue arises here. Mayor Heartwell, along with all the public officials in the state of Michigan, are required to take an oath of office. That oath reads as follows:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the
United States, and the Constitution of this State, and that I will faithfully perform the duties of the office of __________________ in and for the City of _________________, County of ____________ and the State of Michigan, according to the best of my ability, so help me God.

Mayor Heartwell has taken a similar oath to "support... the Constitution of this State..." Proposal 2 is an amendment to the state's constitution. The mayor is therefore looking at violating his oath and defying the state's constitution. Filing a lawsuit to try and stop a state constitutional amendment certainly cannot be defined as supporting the constitution.

Perhaps the University of Michigan's president, Mary Sue Coleman, has seen the legal light on this issue. She has decided to back off her earlier statements that she would fight Proposal 2 in court. When she addressed the university's Board of Regents this week, she didn't mention any lawsuit. In fact, she committed to working within the law:
"With last week's passage of Proposal 2, I want to again assure the campus community that we remain fully dedicated to a diverse university and that we will obey the laws of our state,'' said Coleman. "What will be essential is that all of us - students, faculty and staff and administrators - pursue all possible creative solutions to achieve diversity at the university within the boundaries of the law.''
We tried to find some statistics relating to minority enrollment at the U of M to compare with minority graduation, but we were unable to find that information. However, we did find some information on how California's Proposition 209, similar to Michigan's Proposal 2, affected universities in California.

The interesting outcome in California appears to be an increase in the number of minorities graduating from universities. That's right, an increase. Why? Because enrolling students who would not otherwise qualify for admission to a top-tier university actually does the student a disservice. Think about it this way: if you were a B-average student and a top university admitted you based on something other than your grades, chances are you wouldn't do so well, surrounded by A-average students in a very rigorous academic environment. Students not qualified to attend a top-tier university tend to drop out in higher rates. Therefore, it does them a disservice.

By admitting students to universities largely based on academic ability, students tend to apply for and attend the university that is closer to the academic rigor level they will succeed in. Therefore, the effect of Proposition 209 is that minority students tend to apply for admission at universities at the level of rigor they are more comfortable in. Therefore, instead of dropping out due to an inability to keep up, they tend to graduate at higher levels.

The reality of minority graduation rates bear this out. Rates stayed the same both before and after the passage of Proposition 209. That is, regardless of admissions levels of minority students, graduations rates were flat.

But of course, special interests to hate to see special favors melt away will do anything they can to preserve the status quo, as our mayor is demonstrating. Never mind the fact that the city is constantly complaining about a lack of funding and funds for critical services - apparently it's more important to use our taxpayer dollars to try and overturn the vote of a majority of Michiganders.

1 comment:

  1. Good blog. I'm glad I found it. I will add you to my favorites to check with the morning coffee.

    Your piece about budget numbers and cuts are twisted should be printed as an op-ed in the GR Press.

    Figures lie when liars figure.