Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"The Relentless March of Privilege"

UNC-CH Gets 'D' in Helping the Poor

That's the headline in this a.m.'s N&O, breaking the news about a 50-state study of "flagship" public universities and how they are/aren't serving the poor and the minorities in their respective states. Chapel Hill doesn't look so good in that study. The university got Fs on enrolling both minority and poor students.

The university's one decent grade -- a B -- was for the successful graduation rate of minority students, once the lucky ones actually do get admitted. UNC-CH has concentrated its financial aid dollars in the "Carolina Covenant," which started in 2004 and now covers about 950 students (mostly minorities).

Meanwhile, the state's poor whites are not getting anywhere near the doors.

"These institutions, as you all know, are powerful gatekeepers, but they are closing the gates on students who most need financial support to attend college," said Kati Haycock, director of the Education Trust, which conducted the study.

Public universities are too caught up in rankings, prestige, and reputation, Haycock said. They raise their standards and compete for top students in the race to become more selective. Quality then becomes defined by who is kept out of the university.

"I have to believe it's about the relentless march of privilege in this society," she said.

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