Thursday, August 10, 2006

An End to Picking One Box

Original Article
U.S. Education Draft

The recognition of the diversity of the population of United States is a right step. However, fail to recognize that the racial composition is NOT a good variable is a major problem. Human do not perceive the genetic composition per se. Human perceive the look and behavior of another person. The look and behavior, without doubts, should be the better variables.

The article simply states the fact that the U.S. Education Department is to follow the steps of Census Bureau and implemented 1997 OMB approach. Comments on that article show more interesting side of the issue.

The main theme of the comments turn into the discussion of wether the race still an issue in hihger Ed or America. I like the optimistics view of some of the commentators, but I don't think I can agree with them. With the affirmative action still in the air and with institutions that using races as part of their selection criteria, there are genuen reason to track the race/ethnic information. I suspecting that the reason a lot of the reader don't think the race matter, could be due to the fact that readers of that web site are, in general, doing well in life. For them, the race may not seem to be an issue as point out by John A Silvi's comment to the article New Arguments on Affirmative Action.

The question is then what info are appropriate to collect? To answer this question, we need understand how human perceive differences between people. It is clear that the look and the behavior of a person are the two major factors. For college admission, sometime, the name can be a clue. Comparing with the look and behavior, the genetic comopsition isn't as obvious. As we all know that a multi-racial individual can looked like everything in between. However, people could still perceive that person as one of the major races - that just what people do - people do profiling for organizing thoughts. The look of a person is, therefore an important one. It could potentially, be a better variable than the biological composition since it measures peoples perception more directly.

The other way to dis-prove the existance of race discrimination is to prove that there are other factors that are more important. One example of this factor is the poverty level. There have been studies, that show that poverty could expalain some of the achievement gaps since the achievement level of poor White kids are also low. One other possible factor is the culture values as most people recognize that different culture values things differently. Again, this variable does not necessaryly attached to race as people recognize that Hispanic culture is crossover all races. So, why isn't it possible that Asian culture crossover the racial line, especially for a multi-racial person.

So. It is clear that the biological combination of race information is less desirable compare to the look and the culture variables.

**There is nothing wrong with profiling, it's just what brain do to help storing information and drew conclusions. With the help of computer, people is begining to rely on other information, say, criminal records, to drew conclusions. However, a person with criminal record does not automatically convict him/her of a specific crime, it simply more likely. But isn't that a sort of profiling? Well, it's how we solve problems - based on our information and make decision to devote our efforts to the likely solution first then others. The distinction is if we always keep open mind about the other possibilities. But, remember, you could have spent enormous resources before you reach those others.

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