Recently, I spoke with a Midwestern university engineering professor who was trying to help an inner-city black student who was admitted to the university’s electrical engineering program. The student was sure that he was well prepared for an engineering curriculum; his high school had convinced him of that and the university recruiters supported that notion. His poor performance on the university’s math placement exam required that he take remedial math courses. He’s failed them and is now on academic probation after two semesters of earning less than a 2.0 grade point average.
The young man and his parents were sure of his preparedness. After all, he had good high school grades, but those grades only meant that he was well behaved. The college recruiters probably knew this youngster didn’t have the academic preparation for an electrical engineering curriculum. They were more concerned with racial diversity.
This young man’s background is far from unique. Public schools give most black students fraudulent diplomas that certify a 12th-grade achievement level. According to a report by Abigail Thernstrom, “The Racial Gap in Academic Achievement,” black students in 12th grade dealt with scientific problems at the level of whites in the sixth grade; they wrote about as well as whites in the eighth grade. The average black high school senior had math skills on a par with a typical white student in the middle of ninth grade. The average 17-year-old black student could only read as well as the typical white child who had not yet reached age 13.
Black youngsters who take the SAT exam earn an average score that’s 70 to 80 percent of the score of white students, and keep in mind, the achievement level of white students is…