The Left Wants Government to Swallow Our Universities


Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the progressive Century Foundation , wrote an op-ed article for the New York Times entitled “Elite Colleges, or Colleges for the Elite.”   Kahlenberg argued that a way should be found for the federal govenment to intervene in the decisions of each private university and college, preventing them from considering in the mix of factors going into an admissions decision whether a child of an alumnus is applying to that  institution.

Kahlenberg says that any preferences shown to children of alumni are a uniquely “American contrivance” virtually unknown in the rest of the world. The high educational quality and openness of  American universities and colleges are also virtually unknown in most parts of the world, but Kahlenberg does not seem to care about that.

Kahlenberg then tries to make the case, citing the opinion of “two lawyers in private practice in Pennsylvania,” that preferences for alumni children – even at private institutions of higher education – violate the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This progressive and the two lawyers he cites seem to forget that the 14th Amendment applies to government action that denies to any person within its jurisdiction “the equal protection of the laws.” It was designed to protect individuals against government imposed discrimination, not to give government new powers to regulate private enterprise.

Never mind what the Constitution actually says or the intentions of its drafters. Kahlenberg wants

lawyers to bring suit to enforce the 14th Amendment and the 1866 Civil Rights Act and put an end to this form of discrimination in higher education

Just to make sure that a private university or college is not free to make its own decision whether or not to consider the family relationship between an applicant and an alumnus as one factor in its admission decisions, Kahlenberg wants Congress to step in :

Congress should outlaw alumni preferences at all universities and college receiving federal financing

How about trusting the free market in which private universities and colleges compete with each other and with state universities and colleges for promising students? Oh, I forgot. Progressives do not trust the free market. They would rather that government elites tell us how to live our lives.

Joseph A. Klein is the author of a new book entitled Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations and Radical Islam.

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