Diversity in Law School Faculties in Teaching Law or Calculus, Excellence Is All That Matters

By Philip Perlmutter. Philip Perlmutter, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the forthcoming book "A History of Ethnic, Religious, and Racial Prejudice . " | The Christian Science Monitor, July 17, 1990 | Go to article overview

Diversity in Law School Faculties in Teaching Law or Calculus, Excellence Is All That Matters


Philip Perlmutter. Philip Perlmutter, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the forthcoming book "A History of Ethnic, Religious, and Racial Prejudice . ", The Christian Science Monitor


RECENTLY, Harvard law Prof. Derrick Bell and the Rev. Jesse Jackson demanded that the Harvard Law School add a tenured black woman professor to its staff. To Professor Bell, the absence of such a person indicated that the law school's predominantly white administrators wanted only staff members like themselves, though the school has three tenured black males. Mr. Jackson went further, claiming that "diversity of thought and multicultural education" was the issue. He asserted that, by not having a black tenured woman professor on the staff, black law students would be deprived of a role model and would not learn how to live in a pluralistic society.

At other schools, too, some black and white faculty members and students have called for preferential treatment, proportional representation, or outright quotas. Blacks are not alone, nor the first, in seeking positions in keeping with their percentage of the population or in claiming discrimination because of a numerical imbalance. At various times in this century, Jews, Italians, Irish Roman Catholics, Poles, and Eastern Europeans generally have made such demands.

Whatever the words used, the goal is the same - granting students admission, hiring faculty, or adding minority courses simply because of race, ethnicity, or sex. The absence of such preferential policies is labeled discrimination or said to be inimical to fostering minority self-esteem.

Leaving problems of constitutionality aside, there is no evidence that having racial, ethnic, religious, or sexual "diversity" or "pluralism" makes minority - or majority - students study better, learn faster, or live more cooperatively in school or society.

If it did, leading campuses across the country would not be experiencing outbreaks of "hate crimes." Large inner city schools would not be grappling with problems of school violence, dropouts, and poor academic achievement on city- and state-wide tests. And students in "integrated" schools would not be self-segregating themselves at lunchroom tables along racial, ethnic, class, or sexual lines.

Nor is there any evidence that teachers of a Spanish, Afro-American, Asian, Jewish, or a male, female, or gay background are more effective in teaching students of their own background than other teachers are. If it were so, segregated schools would have turned out large numbers of high ranking students and foreign students would not be rushing to American colleges, where in spite of language difficulties, Asians are excelling. …

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