Lani Guinier, Salon
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Minnie Driver and Matt Damon in "Good Will Hunting" (Credit: Miramax Pictures)
Sunday, Jan 11, 2015 | A special lottery is to be held to select the student who will live in the only deluxe room in a dormitory. There are 100 seniors, 150 juniors, and 200 sophomores who applied. Each senior’s name is placed in the lottery 3 times; each junior’s name, 2 times; and each sophomore’s name, 1 time. What is the probability that a senior’s name will be chosen?
Does this kind of question look familiar? For most of you, it probably does: it represents just one of the nearly two hundred questions that presently make up the SAT. (The answer, by the way, is 3/8, or 37.5 percent, for those among us who prefer percentages to fractions.) For nearly a century, universities across the country have used SAT scores and other quantifiable metrics to make decisions about admitting one candidate versus another—decisions that can have far-reaching impact on both the admitted and declined candidates’ educational, social, professional, and financial futures. On the basis of what? we might ask. Originally the acronym SAT stood for Scholastic Aptitude Test, on the strength of the argument that a high schooler’s success on the test correlated with his or her success in the increasingly rigorous environment of college. As evidence of this correlation dwindled, the name was changed first to the Scholastic Assessment Test (keeping the handy, well-known acronym) and later to the SAT Reasoning Test. Call it what you will, the SAT still promises something it can’t deliver: a way to measure merit. Yet the increasing reliance on standardized test scores as a status placement in society has created something alien to the very values of our democratic society yet seemingly with a life of its own: a testocracy.
In 1998, Lani Guinier became the first woman of color appointed to a tenured professorship at Harvard Law School. Before her Harvard appointment, she was a tenured professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
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The Best and the Brightest Led America Off a Cliff, Chris Hedges, Truthdig
Don’t expect them to save us. They don’t know how. And when it all collapses, when our rotten financial system with its trillions in worthless assets implodes and our imperial wars end in humiliation and defeat, they will be exposed as being as helpless, and as stupid, as the rest of us.