Why Yale Students Aren’t Ideologically Diverse

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 8.54.07 AMThe New York Post has been giving Ed Boland a lot of press recently in advance of his soon-to-be-released book, The Battle for Room 314. The promotion began with an article headlined with typical Post subtlety, “My Year of Terror and Abuse Teaching at a NYC High School.” Reporter Maureen Callahan introduces her subject:

In 2008, Ed Boland, a well-off New Yorker who had spent 20 years as an executive at a nonprofit, had a midlife epiphany: He should leave his white-glove world, the galas at the Waldorf and drinks at the Yale Club, and go work with the city’s neediest children.

As I read the foregoing, another headline sprang to mind: Teacher Bludgeoned by Reality. But let’s hear Mr. Boland’s story:

Boland had taught English in China. This was his favored school — advertised as the last, best hope for kids who had fallen far behind — and he was thrilled to be hired. He went home to his then-boyfriend (now-husband) and celebrated over takeout pad Thai and an expensive bottle of red wine.

“I was ready to change lives as a teacher,” he writes.

How wrong he was.

There were 30 kids in his ninth-grade class, some as old as 17. One student, Jamal, was living in a homeless shelter with his mother; most of the other students lived in public housing. There was one white kid in the whole school.

“It was as if Brown v. Board of Education or desegregation had never occurred,” Boland writes.

A wealthy New Yorker who pays Manhattan rent takes a job at one of the worst city schools and is astonished to find a lack of whites? Really? I hope he had something stronger than a bottle of red on hand, because things were about to get ugly.

Two weeks in and Boland was crying in the bathroom. Kids were tossing $110 textbooks out the window. They overturned desks and stormed out of classrooms. There were seventh-grade girls with tattoos and T-shirts that read, “I’m Not Easy But We Can Negotiate.”

It was a nightmare, compounded by the fact that Boland was openly gay. His charges scrawled homophobic slurs on the chalkboard when they weren’t shouting them to his face. Of course, that didn’t stop one girl from complaining to the administration that Boland sexually harassed her. He complimented her “fine mind;” she reported that he called her “mighty fine” and propositioned her.

By the end of the year, Boland despised his students and gave up hope that he could make a difference. He quit, got a book deal, is now a media darling. That hasn’t gone over well with everyone, including a number of other NYC teachers, such as Thomas Martone, who’ve questioned Boland’s judgement and idealism:

It seemed as if Mr. Boland watched “Dangerous Minds” for the first time and decided to play hero to needy kids with no real classroom-management strategies at his disposal.

Upon the completion of his tenure as a teacher, it seems as if he intended to release this memoir as an obvious money grab, then sit around with his buddies and tell them stories about how he (as Matt Damon so eloquently put it in “Good Will Hunting”) “went slummin’, too, once.”

I had to laugh when I read that. It brought to mind MAD Tv’s hysterical spoof of “Nice White Lady” movies.

But seriously, the NYC teacher has a point. What well-off, white, gay male is so deluded as to waltz into a poor urban school with the idea that he can turn kids around within his first year of teaching? Why would you be shocked to find appalling kids, from appalling circumstances? Who is that naive about life and human nature?

Why, a Yale admissions officer, that’s who!

This past weekend the Post published another excerpt from Boland’s book, revealing that he was formerly an admissions officer for Yale University. The article is an illuminating glimpse at how an Ivy League gatekeeper selects our future elites. So what kind of applicant earned a thumbs-up from Boland? Well, here’s one:

A girl wrote a brilliant feminist essay — worthy of Harper’s, really — about gender and socialization, revealing that she was a phantom serial farter in public and yet no one ever suspected because of her gender.

So, now farting is a feminist issue. Is there anything that isn’t a feminist issue? Boland goes on to describe the harried process that is Yale admissions:

Because we had to get through about 300 applications in each two-hour committee session, we developed shortcuts.

You could look down at the names of four or five kids from one school who were terribly smart but not exceptional and say, “Reject the entire high school”; sometimes you could go further and say, “Reject the page,” and send 20 kids on a single page of computer paper packing; or, most famously, “Reject the state,” when it came to sparsely populated places like North Dakota or Wyoming.

Boland’s search for the best and the brightest leads him to a sit-down at the Yale Club with two elderly men that oversee alumni interviews (Boland refers to them as “Statler and Waldorf”). They had a bone to pick with Boland:

“We used to hold our receptions for admitted students here, but your Admissions Office says it’s too stuffy and we’d scare off kids who aren’t from typical Yale backgrounds. Have you ever heard such twaddle in your life?” said Hal, the crankier of the two.

I scanned the room — a gorgeous mausoleum, majestic but imposing as hell, filled with mean-looking old men who appeared ready to lower their Wall Street Journals and scream, “Get off my lawn!” in raspy unison.

I’m with Statler and Waldorf on this one. If Yale students presume to be future politicians, judges, and scholars, they need to deal with a marble column or two. Architecture is not a micro-aggression.

Although off-put at first, Boland warms up to Statler and Waldorf when they advocate for Emmanuela Gutierrez, an impoverished Puerto Rican from the Bronx. Boland fought to get Gutierrez admitted, seeing as she was the child of a single mother and founded her school’s Afro-Latina alliance. Sadly, admissions passed over Gutierrez, and Boland expressed his regret:

Years later, I learned that Emmanuela graduated from Columbia, where she did impressive work organizing Harlem tenants against a local slumlord.

After graduation, she wanted to improve the lot of low-wage earners like her mother, and she became a widely respected union organizer and leader for health-care workers. In 2013, she ran for lieutenant governor of New Jersey on the Democratic ticket. We had missed a true gem.

I think you astute readers can see a trend here. If Boland is representative of most Yale admissions officers, then Yale is self-selecting students with a proclivity for gender, racial, or other victim politics. Happily, this leads me to believe that last year’s student hissy-fits over Halloween costumes weren’t symptomatic of a generation-wide Special Snowflake Syndrome. Rather, Yale has specifically sought out agitators and grievance-mongers for its student body… and now it’s paying the price.

If we’re to tackle this problem and encourage free speech on campus (not to mention prevent successive generations from supporting socialism), there needs to be ideological diversity in the admissions process. Jonathan Haidt and his colleagues at Heterodox Academy are doing important work advocating for thought diversity across college staff. However, increasing the number of professors with conservative or otherwise “unorthodox” viewpoints will be less effective if the great majority of students already have, and have been selected for, a leftist bias.

While I’m sure that feminist fart essay was a winner, I wonder if equal weight is given to an ROTC cadet’s essay on discipline, or on a young entrepreneur’s essay about overcoming the challenges in starting a business. Emmanuela Gutierrez is an impressive person, but so is the young woman who builds houses for the underprivileged through her church group. Two Princeton sociologists determined that listing activities like ROTC, FFA, and 4-H negatively impacts an applicant’s chances for admission at selective schools. It shouldn’t.

Maybe the place to start is by advocating for ideological diversity on admissions committees. How about recruiting some retired vets or conservative scholars to help cull applicants? Yeah, it might put Ed Boland-types out of a job. But they can always find a gig teaching at an inner city school. I hear there are openings.

There are 37 comments.

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  1. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    PLJ, the old story about a liberal is someone who has yet to be mugged holds true again.

    • #1
  2. hokiecon Inactive
    hokiecon
    @hokiecon

    I’m afraid we are beyond the point of no return. When a Lady Gaga scholar and journalism professor assaults a student journalist and almost the entire English department stands behind her, we have a problem. Politics are downstream from culture.

    • #2
  3. Paula Lynn Johnson Inactive
    Paula Lynn Johnson
    @PaulaLynnJohnson

    hokiecon: and almost the entire English department stands behind her, we have a problem.

    As a former English major, I’m not surprised.  The unfortunate result is that students, whatever their politics, learn how to game the teacher for an easy A.  In English Lit, this meant liberally sprinkling your work with leftist buzzwords, whether you understood them or not. I remember “transgressive”, “liminal”, “marginalized” and “The Other” being big.

    My parents joked that they paid out the nose so that I could learn that Shakespeare was gay.

    • #3
  4. Brandon Shafer Coolidge
    Brandon Shafer
    @BrandonShafer

    PHCheese:PLJ, the old story about a liberal is someone who has yet to be mugged holds true again.

    To quote Mona Charen “Mug him again!”

    • #4
  5. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    My #2 son is applying to schools this year.

    At a recent interview with an Ivy League alumnus, he was asked how, if we do not have a television set, he managed to watch the Democratic Debate.

    #2 is no dummy. He explained that he had watched it on the internet (he had, for as long as he could take it). #2 pointed out that O’Malley looked out of his league, that Hillary is not that consistent, and Bernie is so very interesting. And compared to Trump or Cruz, of course, it was a no-brainer!

    He reported to us that the alumn was satisfied that #2 has acceptable ideological credentials.

    • #5
  6. Paula Lynn Johnson Inactive
    Paula Lynn Johnson
    @PaulaLynnJohnson

    iWe: #2 pointed out that O’Malley looked out of his league, that Hillary is not that consistent, and Bernie is so very interesting. And compared to Trump or Cruz, of course, it was a no-brainer!

    Your son was brilliant.  Alinsky-ite infiltration, “no sudden moves”. Worked for Obama!

    • #6
  7. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Sew…reap. A story old as time.

    • #7
  8. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    I have nothing to add.  I just wanted to say terrific article, Paula Lynn.

    • #8
  9. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    This subject is so interesting and the post is so well done that I wish we could set up a tab on Ricochet and explore it with a whole lot of discussion.

    The daughter of a friend of mine graduated from a demanding private high school with a 4.0 GPA. She was a brilliant flutist as well. She had interned with the Republican minority leader’s office in Boston, who had written for her a stellar recommendation. Her extensive community service and music backgrounds were rare in a student of low economic means. And she had a natural gift for speaking and reading French–it was extraordinary. She had succeeded based only on hard work, fortitude, and genius.

    She applied to Yale and Harvard and Dartmouth and Amherst. She got wait-listed at Dartmouth; she had applied to Harvard as an early admission candidate, and she at least cleared the wastebasket and got put into the regular pool in the spring, but she was later rejected. Both the Yale and Dartmouth alum interviews went well, so well they both advocated for her acceptance. Ultimately she was rejected by those schools too, and the Yale alum was so upset that he quit doing these interviews afterward.

    I know what happened: it was the year after the Newt Gingrich revolution. This kid was a Republican. Off to that reject pile.

    In contrast, look at this kid‘s essay topic and how he was accepted this year at all of the Ivies.

    • #9
  10. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I have complete confidence, however, that there will be a correction.

    I read a great story years ago (1995) in the Atlantic Monthly, “The Great Sorting,” which later became a book, and its author Nicholas Lemann went on to be the dean of the Columbia School of Journalism. Lemann describes the genesis of the machine-scored, nationwide SATs. When we were mobilizing for World War II, the government approached the Ivies, specifically Harvard, saying it wanted the smartest people in the country (I’m paraphrasing badly here, but . . .) for the war effort. Harvard had to say, “They are not here.” Up until that time, the wealthy kids who went to the Ivies were not necessarily the best and brightest, just the richest. The SATs began as an effort to find the country’s best and brightest kids, no matter where they lived or how wealthy they were.

    Well, we are on the brink of something similar. These schools have so extremely skewed their admissions to the politically correct Democratic Party students that once again, they are not getting the smartest kids. I predict that they will go back to an achievement-based admissions policy soon, probably when they realize that the state colleges are graduating smarter kids who go on to achieve greatly, more than their students achieve, because the state colleges take everyone, even Republicans. :)

    • #10
  11. Al French Moderator
    Al French
    @AlFrench

    I could have stopped reading when I got to this:

    “He went home to his then-boyfriend (now-husband) and celebrated over takeout pad Thai and an expensive bottle of red wine.”

    Red wine with pad Thai?  Clearly the man has no judgment.

    • #11
  12. Paula Lynn Johnson Inactive
    Paula Lynn Johnson
    @PaulaLynnJohnson

    MarciN: In contrast, look at this kid‘s essay topic and how he was accepted this year at all of the Ivies

    A Nigerian LGBT activist.  He’s a twofer.

    What I hate about the whole admissions process, MarciN, is the cynicism it fosters.  I attended a Mother’s Day Tea fundraiser in honor of a friend who passed from breast cancer.  A teen I knew was there, working with other teens to wait tables.  “It’s so great to see you helping out!” I told her.  “I need more community service hours for college applications,” she told me. No connection to the person or the cause. Just there to build her resume.

    • #12
  13. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    MarciN: I have complete confidence, however, that there will be a correction.

    I agree. I had meetings with my alma mater’s Admissions people, to talk about how our alumni are dropping out of the interview process, and that alumni are alarmed that kids who are not ready for the work are being admitted.

    At some point, the professors will push back: they very much crave students who are intellectually capable. And right now, as never before, the admitted student body is not up to snuff.

    #2 will probably go to the best school that admits him. Because some of these schools are still seeking kids as boldly capable as he is, despite the fact that he is white, Jewish, and straight.

    • #13
  14. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    iWe:

    MarciN: I have complete confidence, however, that there will be a correction.

    I agree. I had meetings with my alma mater’s Admissions people, to talk about how our alumni are dropping out of the interview process, and that alumni are alarmed that kids who are not ready for the work are being admitted.

    At some point, the professors will push back: they very much crave students who are intellectually capable. And right now, as never before, the admitted student body is not up to snuff.

    #2 will probably go to the best school that admits him. Because some of these schools are still seeking kids as boldly capable as he is, despite the fact that he is white, Jewish, and straight.

    Yup. I wish him well. :) :) Knowing you and KidCoder, I have complete confidence.

    That said, I preach to every senior with ears to take nothing personally. :) :) :)

    • #14
  15. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    MarciN: That said, I preach to every senior with ears to take nothing personally. :) :) :)

    I disagree. Failure is usually more instructive than success. Hunger leads to more action than does satisfaction.

    I like to keep my kids insecure. :-)

    • #15
  16. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    This would make for a really good comedy.

    • #16
  17. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    My daughter played soccer and basketball in high school. He junior year she was contacted by Harvard to play basketball. She preferred soccer to basketball and was offered several scholarships to play. Of course Harvard doesn’t offer scholarships. She eventually turned down all the scholarships and went to N. Carolina State as a walk on. With hindsight that was great. She started all but two games in four years, got a scholarship and was captain of the team and became a true leader. I am supremely glad she didn’t go to Harvard plus richer.

    • #17
  18. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Al French:

    Red wine with pad Thai? Clearly the man has no judgment.

    I had precisely the same thought on reading that line.

    • #18
  19. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    I read the article in the post, he lost me when he claimed to have a blue-collar brain.

    The letters arrived daily from white-shoe law firms, governors’ mansions, and — in yet another shock to my blue-collar brain — vacation homes with proper names on engraved stationery: “The Manse, Little Compton, Rhode Island” or “Coral House, Hamilton, Bermuda.”

    But that might explain the red wine, Pad Thai combination.

    • #19
  20. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    #1 Son was invited to apply for Harvard. We declined. Harvard values are not our values.

    • #20
  21. Liz Member
    Liz
    @Liz

    I do alumna interviews for my school. In 10 years, I have strongly recommended one student. She was an Italian girl who went to a state school, took it upon herself to perfect her English, and found out about my alma mater and how to apply on her own. Her major interest was biology, but she spoke fluently about her love of literature and her appreciation of the liberal arts. She got wait-listed; I’m not sure what happened after that.

    Most kids I interview are international students from United World College (a hot spot for college reps and recruiters): Tunisians, Serbs, Latvians, Egyptians, Moroccans, Koreans, and others. By the time I talk to them, they have been fully indoctrinated in multiculturalism and open borders. One Tunisian told me that he had chosen to volunteer with refugees in Trieste; he spoke of his horror on finding that they were housed in dormitory-style detainment centers. I asked what he would prefer. He suggested that the government should compel hotels to take them. Why, after all, should some people get to stay in 4 star lodgings when others do not?

    The Serb I just interviewed was personally charming, and at least interested in decent literature. When I asked his opinion on free speech, he didn’t appear to have one. I suppose I can’t blame him, since such discussions are no doubt beyond the pale at UWC.

    • #21
  22. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Al French:I could have stopped reading when I got to this:

    “He went home to his then-boyfriend (now-husband) and celebrated over takeout pad Thai and an expensive bottle of red wine.”

    Red wine with pad Thai? Clearly the man has no judgment.

    I have been assured that Riesling pairs well with spicy Asian cuisine.

    • #22
  23. Merina Smith Inactive
    Merina Smith
    @MerinaSmith

    I wish those of you who think the supposedly top schools will go back to merit admissions soon were correct, but I think it is currently going the opposite way fast.  From what I have read, many schools want to drop standardized testing altogether.  It’s interesting that such testing was begun in order to give those who were not legacy admits a chance, but that it is now reviled as racist and various other kinds of ist.  I’ve heard a number of people claim it has no predictive value, which I don’t believe for a nanosecond.

    The problem with essays and sob stories, which admissions people love, is that there is no way to know how much of the essay the kid actually wrote, and similarly, there is no way universities can check up on the truth of sob stories, which gives kids great incentive to stretch the truth or lie outright.  My insurance agent once told me that he wished he had told his daughter to claim he had abused her so that she could have written a heart-wrenching essay about this, which would have gotten her into the school of her choice.  I told him outright that his daughter’s character is far more important than admission to any university.  Still, given the fever pitch over college admissions, how much incentive is there to “pad” a resume in this way?

    • #23
  24. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    Really enjoyed reading this excellent post.

    • #24
  25. Pelayo Inactive
    Pelayo
    @Pelayo

    I am tempted to read the book based on your post.  Thanks for sharing this.

    • #25
  26. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    If it’s so easy to get a job as a schoolteacher, the unemployment rate for college graduates should really be close to zero.

    • #26
  27. Scarlet Pimpernel Inactive
    Scarlet Pimpernel
    @ScarletPimpernel

    Excellent post.

    The rot begins in our elite high schools, I suspect.  They are increasingly Lefty, too.

    • #27
  28. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Al French:

    Red wine with pad Thai? Clearly the man has no judgment.

    I had precisely the same thought on reading that line.

    Really? I think that this article is very much in line with mainstream thought on that question. Most of the better pairings are white, and you shouldn’t have a cab, but there are plenty of excellent softer reds that would be perfect matches. Pairing red wine with Pad Thai suggests that he either knows nothing about wine, or that he has a more than passing knowledge, and I don’t see why we should assume the former.

    • #28
  29. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    iWe:My #2 son is applying to schools this year.

    At a recent interview with an Ivy League alumnus, he was asked how, if we do not have a television set, he managed to watch the Democratic Debate.

    #2 is no dummy. He explained that he had watched it on the internet (he had, for as long as he could take it). #2 pointed out that O’Malley looked out of his league, that Hillary is not that consistent, and Bernie is so very interesting. And compared to Trump or Cruz, of course, it was a no-brainer!

    He reported to us that the alumn was satisfied that #2 has acceptable ideological credentials.

    My interviews follow a somewhat different path. Generally, the students span the spectrum from leftist to Bolshevik. Every once in a while I get a Menshevik recidivist.

    • #29
  30. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    Misthiocracy:If it’s so easy to get a job as a schoolteacher, the unemployment rate for college graduates should really be close to zero.

    In Illinois, every teacher needs to go to a school of education for an education degree.  I taught at the college level and tutored, but that is insufficient to gain admittance to the guild.

    • #30

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