In this gleefully subversive thought experiment, Steve Sailer proposes that it would be in the best interest of children from low socio-economic, err, family situations (read: non-East Asian/non-Jewish minorities), if schools maintained a quota for white students, and, as such, this should be a cause célèbre championed by liberals. But why? He refers to a recent post by Washington Piss—Post, Post— reporter Emily Badger in which she begins by concluding the following:
Wealthy parents are famously pouring more and more into their children, widening the gap in who has access to piano lessons and math tutors and French language camp. The biggest investment the rich can make in their kids, though — one with equally profound consequences for the poor — has less to do with “enrichment” than real estate.
They can buy their children pricey homes in nice neighborhoods with good school districts.
In other words, according to Sailer, “the worst problem with being poor in today’s America is not that you can’t afford to buy enough food, it’s that you can’t afford to get away from other poor people.” Being poor leaves one with very few options but to remain surrounded by those who are also indigent. Though the Internet, as in so many other ways, may act a game changer in this regard, those who remain in economically depressed environments remain in environments where most are more concerned with hustling and “getting theirs” than with cultural enrichment and personal development. (If anyone thinks that I am relying far too heavily on materialistic premises, spend just an hour tutoring inner-city youth, asking them, while you are there, to describe their home lives and then get back to me. Of course, as with racial explanations, one can wrongly view environmental explanations as the key to unlock any door of inquiry, but I digress….)
This makes sense, as cruel as it must be for those who have very little recourse to individuals or groups outside their social purview. Looking at my own undergraduate private university experience, I see how I benefited from meeting people my age who came from families who had exposed them to philosophical investigations and to fine arts performances and to theological discussions. Not to say that such exposure was totally absent from my upbringing, but those newly secured peers challenged me in ways that I had not been challenged previously–and in ways that I would not have been challenged, most likely, had I stayed in my neighborhood or had I attended a state university, as I had originally wanted to do. (I was also initiated into the art of heavy drinking, but with class.) Though my parents may not have articulated this, I am sure that this projected exposure to higher levels of, well, society played a role in their insistence that I attend a private university.
Going back to the Post article:
“Forty to fifty years of social-science research tells us what an important context neighborhoods are, so buying a neighborhood is probably one of the most important things you can do for your kid,” says Ann Owens, a sociologist at the University of Southern California. “There’s mixed evidence on whether buying all this other stuff matters, to0. But buying a neighborhood basically provides huge advantages.”
As important as neighborhoods are, though, the rub is this: given that school district eligibility is factored into housing costs, the better the school district, understandably, the greater the mortgage, thus creating, as is pointed out in the Badger piece, severely economically segregated (and, I would wager, racially segregated) communities. However, if a minimum white quota (and let us thrown in an East Asian and a Jewish one for kicks) were required in each school district, this might contribute to an equalizing of housing prices.
Sailer, however, as he is wont to do, notes the following challenge: “Of course, there isn’t much evidence that the kind of progressive education techniques that liberal white school districts like are good for blacks. Blacks seem to do best in KIPP-style boot camp schools with strict discipline and back to basic fundamentals. But not a lot of highly educated whites want to send their 1.6 children to KIPP charters.”