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Vol. 17  No. 21 Final Edition
Clovis Free Press

Saturday March 3, 2001
The Moral Stake In Education's Decline
Shouldn't we make certain the poor, the
minority, the disadvantaged, get into the loop?
By Howard Hobbs Ph.D.
President, Valley Press Media Network

     CLOVIS -- I was happy to receive a letter from an old university professor friend of mine this week. In the course of the letter he let me in on his insight about his academic career. He's now at an Ivy League college in Boston.
     He writes that he owes his success to the G. I. Bill, "...as the beneficiary of [an admissions] bias favoring males..." he was able attended Brooklyn College and subsequently become a recipient of a graduate fellowship to Princeton University.
    "All, that set in motion," he writes, "another professor who befriended me by recommending me to the National Bureau of Economic Research, where I was then hired as a research assistant.  Later, during those days, and mostly on the glamour of my short stay at the Bureau, I was hired to teach economics at Rutgers University at New Brunswick."
       He recalled,"The shortage of teachers, more than individual merit, propelled me into securing my first full-time academic employment."
    "It was several years later," he says, "when found a position at Syracuse University, where a friend in the sociology department championed my interest. I became a full professor, purely on merit. I'm sure."
     At Syracuse he received a grant from the Ford Foundation that took him to New York City, where, with the help of a few friends with clout, he obtained a position at New York University.
     The professor provides further examples of career moves where "...connections made the difference." All this success in academe has brought a keen insight to my friend and a sparing bit of philosophy, as well. "To create a truly meritocratic society,." he writes,"we would need to look more closely at what standards for judging people are actually used."
       He asks me the final question, "If decisions will always come in part through social capital and networks, how do we ensure that the poor, the minority, the disadvantaged, get into the loop of the privileged?"
       His logic cannot be faulted. The institutional integrity of higher education amply described in his letter presents a moral thicket. He is still waiting for my reply.

Letter to the Editor

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