My new project is moving along nicely, complex though it is. I obtained a database of the incoming class of 2016, and have now chosen the sixty students who will participate in the Pilot Project. One of the oddities of academic record keeping, with which I am fortunately familiar from my UMass days, is that several of the young women have High School GPAs higher than 4.0. How is this possible, you might ask. It seems that when colleges calculate GPAs, they add a point to the grades in Advanced Placement courses, so an A in AP Math, for example, is factored into the GPA as a 5, not a 4.
This, I discovered when I was running a program for minority students from Springfield, MA, has the unfortunate consequence of systematically disadvantaging students at "majority minority" high schools, where AP courses are less often offered. Thus, no matter how talented and motivated a young Black or Latino student at such a school may be, he or she has very little opportunity to rack up a stellar GPA.
As I observed in my Autobiography [Volume Three], this is only one of the many hidden ways in which minority students are structurally discriminated against. In general, I have found, senior administrators are quite ignorant of such details -- their pay grade is too high for them to trouble themselves with the minutiae of day-to-day data assemblage. They just read the executive summaries and look at the pie charts.
I am aware that I have not been blogging much lately. My mind is entirely taken up with this new project. Not only is it very much harder to change the world than merely to think about it; changing the world even a little bit is also a great deal more absorbing. Exactly how I design this program will have a real effect on the lives of the sixty students and ten faculty who participate in it, whereas what I think about Syria or the Unemployment Rate or even the recall of Governor Walker is entirely epiphenomenal.
Needless to say, I was greatly cheered by the Appellate Court judgment that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, although my son, who is vastly knowledgerable about such things, tell me it is a complex and not entirely positive decision. [He was quoted to this effect in a NY TIMES story yesterday. Can you imagine the pride I feel when I reflect that I once read the entire three volumes of The Lord of the Rings to this brilliant, handsome, accomplished man?]