I absolutely can't believe the article I read in today's San Francisco Chronicle. A committee of U.C. faculty have decided that the university's method of determining student eligibility for admission is "too rigid", and is therefore "unfair to some students." Their solution to this problem? Restrict guaranteed university access even further. The 1960 Master Plan for Education guarantees University admission to the top 12.5% of graduating high school seniors; the Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools wants to reduce that guarantee to the top 4%.
The theory is, you see, that students in rural and inner-city schools are disadvantaged because their schools don't offer all the necessary college prep courses, and they don't have enough counselors to make sure they take the courses and do the required tests. This is all true, of course, and is further complicated by the fact that the inner-city kids also have a list of other well-known problems (low income, family breakup, constant danger from random shooters, etc.). But some of them do make it - and they are materially aided by the policy that the top 12.5% of graduates from their high school have guaranteed admission.
The faculty members are concerned that there are students (God defend us!) who now "slide in" to Cal by "doing the minimum work to be eligible." So they want to "improve standards" by raising the bar so these kids - who are now DOING the necessary work! - don't have guaranteed admission to Cal. Only the top 4% will get guaranteed admission, everybody else has to "compete" - including any of the rural and inner-city kids who might have been guaranteed a slot under the 1960 rules! Furthermore, nobody will be guaranteed a slot at a UC campus with available seats, as they are now; if your primary choice rejects you, you have to be re-evaluated again by your second choice campus, and so on.
I couldn't make this up if I tried. They are trying to expand the pool that gets into Cal by raising the bar for everybody below the top 4%? The whirring sound you hear is George Orwell, spinning in his grave at a level of doublespeak worthy of his masterpiece. And this does it for me - if this is how the faculty thinks, my donation to U.C. this year will go to Alumni Association scholarship funds, not to the general fund.
Also, someday I'd like someone to explain to me what's wrong with doing the minimum work necessary to make the grade. Does everyone have to be an overachiever? If you make the grade, you make it. The effort necessary to be in the top 12.5% of your school is not trivial; and the tests you have to pass - twice - are also not trivial.
To do them justice, the article quoted a number of faculty, and at least one regent (who has been actively involved in admissions and had never heard of this) who are as disturbed by this proposal as I am. So it may never come to pass, and a good thing if it doesn't. But it should never have seen the light of day as a serious suggestion.