Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Outraged Over Admissions Policies at Harvard? Take a Look at the Public Schools

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

This is a classic case of 'whataboutism', which "denotes in a pejorative sense a procedure in which a critical question or argument is not answered or discussed, but retorted with a critical counter-question." The question, in this case, concerns Harvard's legacy admissions (here represented simply as 'selective admission') and the retort addresses the way public schools "operate under an archaic and discriminatory assignment system that sorts kids into schools based on government-drawn maps." Now I agree: it's ridiculous that living in the wrong district can mean attending a vastly inferior school. But at least more than 3% of people get into public schools, and you can change your address in a way that you can change your non-legacy parents. But still: there should be equity in public school funding and institutional quality. We agree. And that underlines why there should also be equity in university funding and institutional quality. It's not about the 'opening' of elite institutions to more people. It's about whether elite institutions should exist at all, draining as they do the much needed resources that could be spend providing a quality education for everyone, even if they live on the wrong side of the tracks.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Jul 22, 2024 10:40 a.m.

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