Or maybe red-state kids believe men lived alongside dinosaurs 6000 years ago

UPDATE: One more point. Maybe the reason more Blue State kids get into good schools and good professions is that Red State kids are growing up in states where the local officials, and members of Congress, are more interested in banning gay marriage and passing tax cuts than they are in improving their local education and health care systems. Their kids are growing up at a major disadvantage as compared to smarter, healthier kids in Blue States. But at least they don’t have to worry about the gays down the street as they head to work at the local Winn-Dixie, talking about how their side got screwed in the War of Northern Aggression. Priorities, people.
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Ross Douthat writes in the NYT that there’s good reason for people like Glenn Beck to think that Barack Obama is a Marxist. According to Douthat, elite American colleges turn away rural white Christian kids, supposedly out of prejudice, and thus all those poor white Christian kids are marginalized.

Hmmm… maybe. First, here’s Douthat:

Last year, two Princeton sociologists, Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford, published a book-length study of admissions and affirmative action at eight highly selective colleges and universities. Unsurprisingly, they found that the admissions process seemed to favor black and Hispanic applicants, while whites and Asians needed higher grades and SAT scores to get in. But what was striking, as Russell K. Nieli pointed out last week on the conservative Web site Minding the Campus, was which whites were most disadvantaged by the process: the downscale, the rural and the working-class.

This was particularly pronounced among the private colleges in the study. For minority applicants, the lower a family’s socioeconomic position, the more likely the student was to be admitted. For whites, though, it was the reverse. An upper-middle-class white applicant was three times more likely to be admitted than a lower-class white with similar qualifications.

This I believe. And sometimes it’s necessary to even the balance, and other times I think it’s too much. I remember applying for a job at the Congressional Research Service in 1989 (or so) and the interviewer told me that I basically didn’t have a chance of getting a job because I was white. That kind of ticked me off, but I was only 25, and not the activist I am today, so I let it slide. It struck me at the time, and still does today, that such a blatant racial element in hiring was a tad overboard. I know, this is about a job instead of school, but the same issue applies: When, if ever, do we overcompensate to be diverse?

But cultural biases seem to be at work as well. Nieli highlights one of the study’s more remarkable findings: while most extracurricular activities increase your odds of admission to an elite school, holding a leadership role or winning awards in organizations like high school R.O.T.C., 4-H clubs and Future Farmers of America actually works against your chances. Consciously or unconsciously, the gatekeepers of elite education seem to incline against candidates who seem too stereotypically rural or right-wing or “Red America.”

This provides statistical confirmation for what alumni of highly selective universities already know. The most underrepresented groups on elite campuses often aren’t racial minorities; they’re working-class whites (and white Christians in particular) from conservative states and regions. Inevitably, the same underrepresentation persists in the elite professional ranks these campuses feed into: in law and philanthropy, finance and academia, the media and the arts.

Actually, without more information, this study tells us nothing. For all we know, kids who go into ROTC might, on average, be jocks who get lower grades, and/or kids who don’t participate in other extra-curricular activities, and are thus less well rounded applicants. The issue might not be ROTC per se, it might the kind of kid who goes into ROTC. There’s no way to know without further data.

Now this line made me laugh:

Inevitably, the same underrepresentation persists in the elite professional ranks these campuses feed into: in law and philanthropy, finance and academia, the media and the arts.

Yes, it’s liberal bias that stops conservative kids from going into philanthropy. Perhaps, or perhaps conservative kids just aren’t as interested in helping people as are liberal kids. As for academia, same problem – when you grow up in a state where you’re taught the earth is only 6,000 years old, perhaps you’re just not as academically minded as kids from states who teach them actual science. Same problem for media – conservative kids are told that the media is a liberal bastion, which it isn’t, so no wonder they don’t want to work there. Also, the media is about facts. Today’s conservatives aren’t terribly interested in facts or the truth. If it’s not FOX News’ brand of yellow journalism, they don’t want to have anything to do with it. It’s all about self-selection.

And finally, the arts. Well, perhaps conservatives just aren’t as creative as liberals. Or they find the arts too foofy. Who’s to know. But perhaps, just perhaps, our kids excel at all the categories above simply because they’re smarter. Considering the conservative attitude towards facts, and science, it’s only a matter of time before the Texas school curriculum starts manifesting itself in poorer and poorer scholastic, and ultimately, job applicants among conservative kids.

Teach your kids that men lived alongside real dinosaurs and yes they probably won’t get into Harvard. But I’ll bet there’s a job waiting for them as fact-checker at FOX.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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