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Meritocracy

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I first began collecting and organizing my old print articles early last summer, believing that having them all conveniently available in book form would be useful for my planned Harvard Overseer campaign. Now at very long last the regular hardcover edition of The Myth of American Meritocracy and Other Essays has been delivered from the... Read More
As most readers have probably heard, a few days ago we were notified by Harvard University that the alumni signatures on the nomination petitions we had submitted were sufficient in number, and our "Free Harvard/Fair Harvard" slate of candidates would therefore appear on the forthcoming ballot for the Harvard Board of Overseers. An important public... Read More
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This last Saturday night I took a red-eye flight to Boston accompanied by an all-important carry-on bag, containing some thirty pounds of signed nomination petitions for our Free Harvard/Fair Harvard campaign for the Harvard Board of Overseers. With potentially major changes in the structure of American higher education hanging in the balance, I could not... Read More
As many of you already know, I recently launched the "Free Harvard/Fair Harvard" campaign, aimed at electing a slate of five candidates to the Harvard Board of Overseers on a platform of (1) increasing the transparency of today's opaque and abuse-ridden admissions process and (2) immediately eliminating undergraduate tuition as being unnecessary given the huge... Read More
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Schools like Harvard have become tax-exempt hedge funds with huge returns. Ending tuition would be a form of payback.
Although Harvard is widely known as one of America's oldest and most prestigious colleges, that public image is outdated. Over the last couple of decades, the university has transformed itself into one of the world's largest hedge-funds, with the huge profits of its aggressively managed $36 billion portfolio shielded from taxes because of the educational... Read More
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Last week I was invited to speak at the annual conference of the Education Writers Association, with the topic of my panel being the perspective of Asian-Americans on Affirmative Action policies in college admissions. Despite having the only white face among the four presenters, I believe my analysis made a useful contribution. A couple of... Read More
Last week I noted in a column that the California Republicans in the Education Committee of the State Senate had joined an 8-to-0 vote to repeal Proposition 227 and restore Spanish-almost-only “bilingual education” in our schools. The academic performance of over a million immigrant student had doubled in the four years following the implementation of... Read More
The season of college admissions is now upon us, weeks of envelopes fat and thin. With so many teenagers now discovering their future life-prospects as dealt out by our academic gatekeepers, discussions of the selection process are appearing in our media, and some of these include reference to my own Meritocracy article of almost five... Read More
About the only detailed public criticism of my Meritocracy article by an academic has come from Prof. Janet Mertz, a Wisconsin cancer researcher. Since her analysis draws so heavily upon her own 2008 academic paper on top performing math students, I decided that paper warranted a close examination. The primary focus of her article was... Read More
Several years ago, Harvard President Larry Summers spoke at an academic conference on diversity issues, and casually speculated that one of the possible reasons there were relatively few female mathematics professors might be that men were just a bit better at math than women. Although his remarks were private and informal, the massive national scandal... Read More
For reasons best known to himself, Columbia University statistics professor Andrew Gelman has now seen fit to publish his sixth(!) lengthy blogsite column discussing or sharply critiquing my analysis of Ivy League university admissions. Just like most of his previous ones, he seeks to rebut my particular claim that there is a highly suspicious degree... Read More
In publishing a 30,000 word article covering such a broad range of complex and controversial topics, I was certain that my work would necessarily contain at least a few factual errors or omissions. The hundreds of individuals examining my material over the last three months have located several, and being from an academic background, I... Read More
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Have three decades of Supreme Court support for affirmative action been based on fraud?
For almost 35 years, college-admissions decisions in America have been governed by the continuing legacy of University of California v. Bakke, in which a fragmented U.S. Supreme Court struck down the use of racial quotas but affirmed the legitimacy of considering race as one factor among several. The justices are now revisiting these crucial national... Read More
One noticeable disappointment in the ongoing discussion of my Meritocracy article has been the relative lack of critical commentary. Both my previous Hispanic Crime and Race/IQ series had unleashed vast outpouring of harsh attacks, thereby assisting me in sharpening and refining my analysis. But I think that so far the overwhelming majority of the many... Read More
I just returned from attending a couple of events at Yale University, all in connection with the controversial issues raised by my Meritocracy article. On Tuesday, I participated in a large public debate organized by the Yale Political Union on the somewhat related question of whether Affirmative Action on college admissions should be ended. The... Read More
As all writers know, a good title should be both descriptive and provocative, and both these considerations certainly apply to Russell Nieli's very detailed 2200 word review of my Meritocracy article "Asians as the New Jews, Jews as the New WASPs," recently published on Minding the Campus, a prominent education-oriented webzine affiliated with The Manhattan... Read More
Although my Meritocracy article focused primarily on public policy issues---the admissions systems of our elite academic institutions---it necessarily touched on some scientific ones as well. Therefore, it is quite heartening to see that a detailed 1500 word summary and discussion of the piece has now been published by the Genetic Literary Project, affiliated with George... Read More
As I had previously mentioned, the length and range of topics covered in my Meritocracy package resulted in a wide dispersion of responses, many of which seemed to contain almost no overlap in their discussions. Just as in the fable of the Blind Men and the Elephant, a casual reader might almost assume that the... Read More
Doing so would be just as arbitrary as college admissions at present
Given the enormous length of my Meritocracy package---over 35,000 words including sidebar, endnotes, and appendices---it’s hardly surprising that certain parts have received a great deal of discussion, while others have not. For example, my suggestion that our top universities now operated more as hedge-funds than as educational institutions was widely distributed and discussed, as was... Read More
Late Monday night I received a most remarkable and unexpected Christmas present delivered straight from august offices of the New York Times, as David Brooks, one of America's most prominent center-right journalists, named my recent piece "The Myth of American Meritocracy" as one of the winners of his annual Sidney Awards for outstanding articles of... Read More
The New York Times, America's national newspaper of record, has published a forum debating the existence of Asian-American quotas in the Ivy League. My own contribution, drawn from my recent article The Myth of American Meritocracy, focused on the statistical evidence: Statistics Indicate an Ivy League Asian Quota Ron Unz, The New York Times, December... Read More
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Just as their predecessors of the 1920s always denied the existence of "Jewish quotas," top officials at Harvard, Yale, Princeton and the other Ivy League schools today strongly deny the existence of "Asian quotas." But there exists powerful statistical evidence to the contrary. Each year, American universities provide their racial enrollment data to the National... Read More
The reaction to my long Meritocracy cover story followed a very unusual pattern. On the one hand, the piece received just a fraction of the major links and web discussions which several of my previous articles have attracted, and many of these seemed curiously abbreviated or oblique, sometimes describing my article as being quite important... Read More
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Harvard's academic mission is dwarfed by its $30 billion endowment.
From its 1636 foundation Harvard had always ranked as America’s oldest and most prestigious college, even as it gradually grew in size and academic quality during the first three centuries of its existence. The widespread destruction brought about by the Second World War laid low its traditional European rivals, and not long after celebrating its... Read More
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Are elite university admissions based on meritocracy and diversity as claimed?
Just before the Labor Day weekend, a front page New York Times story broke the news of the largest cheating scandal in Harvard University history, in which nearly half the students taking a Government course on the role of Congress had plagiarized or otherwise illegally collaborated on their final exam.[1] Each year, Harvard admits just... Read More
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How Los Angeles undercut its pathbreaking IHP project
In late September I attended a memorial service for William M. Fitz-Gibbon, a retired public school teacher who had passed away a few weeks earlier, just short of his 78th birthday. Without doubt Bill Fitz-Gibbon—“Fitz” to everyone—was the individual who had the greatest academic influence on my life, and my feelings were shared by many... Read More
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RonUnz1
About Ron Unz

A theoretical physicist by training, Mr. Unz serves as founder and chairman of UNZ.org, a content-archiving website providing free access to many hundreds of thousands of articles from prominent periodicals of the last hundred and fifty years. From 2007 to 2013, he also served as publisher of The American Conservative, a small opinion magazine, and had previously served as chairman of Wall Street Analytics, Inc., a financial services software company which he founded in New York City in 1987. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard University, Cambridge University, and Stanford University, and is a past first-place winner in the Intel/Westinghouse Science Talent Search. He was born in Los Angeles in 1961.

He has long been deeply interested in public policy issues, and his writings on issues of immigration, race, ethnicity, and social policy have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, The Nation, and numerous other publications.

In 1994, he launched a surprise Republican primary challenge to incumbent Gov. Pete Wilson of California, running on a conservative, pro-immigrant platform against the prevailing political sentiment, and received 34% of the vote. Later that year, he campaigned as a leading opponent of Prop. 187, the anti-immigration initiative, and was a top featured speaker at a 70,000 person pro-immigrant march in Los Angeles, the largest political rally in California history to that date.

In 1997, Mr. Unz began his “English for the Children” initiative campaign to dismantle bilingual education in California. He drafted Prop. 227 and led the campaign to qualify and pass the measure, culminating in a landslide 61% victory in June 1998, effectively eliminating over one-third of America’s bilingual programs. Within less than three years of the new English immersion curriculum, the mean percentile test scores of over a million immigrant students in California rose by an average of 70%. He later organized and led similar initiative campaigns in other states, winning with 63% in the 2000 Arizona vote and a remarkable 68% in the 2002 Massachusetts vote without spending a single dollar on advertising.

After spending most of the 2000s focused on software projects, he has recently become much more active in his public policy writings, most of which had appeared in his own magazine.


Personal Classics
The unspoken statistical reality of urban crime over the last quarter century.
The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?
Are elite university admissions based on meritocracy and diversity as claimed?
A simple remedy for income stagnation
What the facts tell us about a taboo subject