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Real public servants are free enterprising individuals who, inspired, embrace challenge, take risks, and create, sometimes big, and often, they create jobs in the process, all out of their ideas, and self initiative...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Opinion on "Ben Boychuk and Pia Lopez go Head to Head over Should California let universities use race as a factor in admissions?"

By Martha Montelongo

I was admitted to UCLA through affirmative action, and my ethnicity was a factor. How much of a factor? I don't know. And I always wonder if I could have been admitted without that as a factor, on my merit alone. My background was interesting and harsh, and would have been so, had my parents been Jewish, Polish, German, Italian etc. My resiliency, doggedness, and spirit could have been that of a Chinese or Vietnamese or an Anglo or Irishman just as well. So why would I get special treatment based on my ethnicity? The hardest thing about the question race as a factor for admissions raises for me is the cloud of doubt and denigration race based admissions has had on my own sense of self-regard. The doubt this issue casts in my own regard, over my ability without the advantage of the race card has been hurtful on many occasions.

Most recently I moved back to Whittier, CA after living in Santa Cruz for 23 years. I'm still in the process of sorting out my affairs but I had to change my medical group to a local group so that I could resume preventative and proactive personal health care for myself. The thought occurred to me several times as I was looking at the names of doctors in the assorted HMO groups available to me.

I remember Killer King Hospital, a.k.a. Martin Luther King Jr Hospital in Los Angeles County near Watts and South Central. Race trumped qualifications and the results were ghoulishly frightening. So many people died, were maimed, and tormented as a result of a policy that strictly adhered to race as the number one criteria for leadership, control and administration of this hospital. It was allowed to carry on it's reckless neglect and malpractice for years, and the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors failed to act because of their fear of standing up to the politics of race identity political groups that roared at the mere suggestion of any serious reforms in policy.

I say it often--I love being Latina. I love speaking Spanish. I love my Mexican American cultural heritage. I have fond and delightful memories of family gatherings and experiences and my music collection includes classics from the 30s, 40s and 50s of Mexican Bolero and Romantic songs. But I don't want to look at the name of a doctor and wonder, are they qualified or did they get here because of their name and cultural background? Did they get in to their medical schools by meeting the standards as an equal, or did they beat out a more qualified person because of their race?

Or let us ponder what if both applicants were equal in every since of their test scores and academic achievement, then, do we sanction a choice be made by a public government agent based on an individual's ethnicity and race?

It reminds me of an incident when I was a child of six or 7 years of age. A little girl our same age lived two houses up the street from us. For a few summers, we, my twin and I, would spend almost everyday at her house. She had so many toys and so many games and they always had a dough boy pool in the back and it was so hot and that pool and then the cool of the air-conditioned house and the toys and the snacks, were all so wonderful.

We'd endure her petulant and unfair behavior of taking the stack of Candy Land cards under the table in the middle of a game so that she would draw the best cards. She'd mess up every once in a while and one still had a shot at winning. We loved the colorful board, and all her games and playing together. And they were very generous with us.

But one day we had a disagreement over I don't remember what. It was a shouting match on her front lawn. She got so mad, she slapped my little sister who was only four years old, to get at me. Without thinking, and just reacting, her little brother, equal in age to my little sister was near me, and I grabbed his hand and slapped him. I was so instantly ashamed. It was a primitive reaction. I won't condone policy that acts in the way I did, in that moment.

Pia Lopez responds to comments in the piece posted here in the SacBee.

She implies that all other things being equal, that for the sake of diversity, so that the University environment reflects the diversity of the community, the race factor matters. She says: "The aim is to gather a pool of qualified candidates and then to look at each person, on a case-by-case, individually to see what they would bring to the mix in an entering class." What right does anyone have to play God in this mix? How about a lottery, all things being equal?

How about this Pia? How about we put all of our efforts into transforming, not just reforming, but transforming our public schools that are the only option for the poor in every community, save for the lucky few who get saved from the failures that are our public schools, because they win a lottery and get into one of the few Charter Schools allowed by cowardly and or compromised politicians and the teachers unions that control them? How about we stop perpetuating the myths that black and Latino kids aren't capable of high achievement in math, science, English, and more?

I got A's in my major at UCLA. I worked very hard to learn how to write a decent sentence, paragraph, and essay. I was too proud to quit, give up or fail.

I went to a high school that sent a lot of non Hispanic kids to elite colleges. We, those kids and I, had the same teachers. I got decent grades in those same classes. Why didn't those teachers have to teach such that when I got to UCLA, I wasn't below the basic Subject A course in skill level? I was fortunate in that the Affirmative Action Program, then directed by Steve Duarte, had a Summer Program component to it. They housed those of us admitted under special admission in a dorm for 10 weeks, and they gave us an intensive course in remedial math or English, depending on our major as well as two university undergraduate level courses, simultaneously.

It is a high price we pay as a society to tolerate and enable the job programs that dominate what passes for our K-12 Public Education System. We fail the majority of our students who are poor and or lower middle class, whose parents can't afford to move or to send their children to private schools or who are not educated enough themselves, to teach their own children.

Supporting race based quotas is to support a system that fails the majority and saves or gives a chance out of mediocrity and failure to a handful of tokens, so that liberals can feel good about themselves while they go on enjoying the luxury of our taxpayer supported State Universities, a welfare program for the rich and upper middle class in our country.
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Botched Paramilitary Police Raids: An Epidemic of "Isolated Incidents"

"If a widespread pattern of [knock-and-announce] violations were shown . . . there would be reason for grave concern." —Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in Hudson v. Michigan, June 15, 2006. An interactive map of botched SWAT and paramilitary police raids, released in conjunction with the Cato policy paper "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids," by Radley Balko. What does this map mean? How to use this map View Original Map and Database

Key

Death of an innocent. Death or injury of a police officer. Death of a nonviolent offender.
Raid on an innocent suspect. Other examples of paramilitary police excess. Unnecessary raids on doctors and sick people.
The proliferation of SWAT teams, police militarization, and the Drug War have given rise to a dramatic increase in the number of "no-knock" or "quick-knock" raids on suspected drug offenders. Because these raids are often conducted based on tips from notoriously unreliable confidential informants, police sometimes conduct SWAT-style raids on the wrong home, or on the homes of nonviolent, misdemeanor drug users. Such highly-volatile, overly confrontational tactics are bad enough when no one is hurt -- it's difficult to imagine the terror an innocent suspect or family faces when a SWAT team mistakenly breaks down their door in the middle of the night. But even more disturbing are the number of times such "wrong door" raids unnecessarily lead to the injury or death of suspects, bystanders, and police officers. Defenders of SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics say such incidents are isolated and rare. The map above aims to refute that notion.

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