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Closing the Race Gap
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Digital divide; African Americans; Affirmative action; Supreme Court decisions; Race; Education
Author: Raspberry, William
Date: Jun 30, 2003
Start Page: A.15

Moreover, black affluence doesn't seem to make the difference we always imagined it would. Harvard University's Ronald Ferguson has surveyed 34,000 middle- and high-school youngsters in 15 affluent and racially mixed communities in the nation and he has found a consistent achievement gap: whites averaging B-plus, blacks C-plus.

There's more -- a good deal more. And yet at the end, Ferguson, who is black, resorts to what figure skaters used to call the "compulsories" -- or what [Abraham Maslow] might call a hammer. "Politically," [Michael Winerip] wrote, "he believes the damage from two centuries of slavery plus legalized segregation will not be undone in a generation, not even in suburbia. On a personal level, he has studied the data for ways to narrow the gap."

The work of Ronald Ferguson and the University of California's John Ogbu, whose study of the black achievement gap in affluent Shaker Heights, Ohio, brought him to similar conclusions, suggests to me that the fight over undergraduate affirmative action is a diversion. There are serious problems facing black children, and, at the risk of seeming to blame the victims, there are serious things black parents can do about them.

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