A New War on Merit | Beaufort County Now | Editors at the Washington Free Beacon lament attacks on merit-based decisions. | john locke foundation, war on merit, merit-based decisions, july 23, 2020

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A New War on Merit

Publisher's note: The author of this post is Mitch Kokai for the John Locke Foundation.

    Editors at the Washington Free Beacon lament attacks on merit-based decisions.

  • The American dream is that any citizen, regardless of sex, race, creed, or color, can rise on his determination and merit. History is littered with examples of the reformers who worked to realize that dream, pushing the most influential institutions in the country to prize talent and hard work over wealth and connections.
  • The introduction of standardized testing, accessible to all American teens, was part of that push. Harvard University began administering a standardized test to all applicants in 1905. Its effect was profound and immediate: historically a landing spot for the Protestant upper crust, the school began admitting far more public school kids, Catholics, and Jews.
  • The increasing number of Jewish students was a major concern for Harvard president and committed progressive A. Lawrence Lowell. He tried to implement a quota on Jews, then pivoted to an admissions process that used intangible factors such as "character" and "manliness." It worked: Jewish applicants consistently fell short.
  • These sorts of hazy, intangible assessments are now championed by the left. In the name of racial equality, the woke now seek to dismantle meritocratic norms and return to the quota systems that practices like standardized testing were designed to relegate to the trash heap of history.
  • In a lawsuit likely headed for the Supreme Court, hundreds of would-be Asian admittees allege that Harvard caps their numbers with quotas based on "personality"-an eerie echo of Lowell's method for keeping out Jews. ...
  • ... The University of Connecticut School of Medicine, where merit is literally a matter of life or death, recently suspended admissions to its honor society because the GPA-based admissions criterion did not produce an honor society that, as Bill Clinton said, "looked like America."
  • The SAT — which measures intellect better and more fairly than do intangible heuristics — is under fire.



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