One drop of Hispanic blood

One drop of Hispanic blood makes a student Hispanic, according to U.S. Education Department regulations that take effect this year. Students of non-Hispanic mixed parentage will be classified as “two or more races,” which some says lumps together those who are likely to be disadvantaged (black and American Indian) and those who are not (white and Asian).

The new standards for kindergarten through 12th grades and higher education will probably increase the nationwide student population of Hispanics, and could erase some “black” students who will now be counted as Hispanic or as multiracial (in the “two or more races category”). And reclassifying large numbers of white Hispanic students as simply Hispanic has the potential to mask the difference between minority and white students’ test scores, grades and graduation rates — the so-called achievement gap, a target of federal reform efforts that has plagued schools for decades.

The New York Times’ Room for Debate asks: How should students of mixed ancestry be classified?

Not at all, responds Shelby Steele, a Hoover Institution fellow.

Civil rights leaders don’t like this ruling because they are in the business of documenting racial disparities. In our culture mixed-race children do not carry the same level of entitlement as blacks. Giving them their own category reduces the number of blacks and, thus, the level of entitlement that civil rights groups can argue for.

Identity politics is a cynical and dehumanizing business that, in the end, helps no one. Better to eliminate all such categories and leave race and identity in the private realm.

Race still matters, writes Georgetown’s Anthony Carnevale. His research shows that “being Black still has independent and powerful negative effects on educational opportunity, quite separate from language and class barriers.” That is, blacks do significantly worse on tests even when socioeconomic factors are considered.

People who look black are treated differently.  Other mixed-ethnicity people usually blend in, certainly where I live in California.

My new nephew celebrates his one-week birthday today. Like his sisters, he’s one-quarter Hispanic in ancestry, but nobody will know that by his name or appearance or Spanish fluency. His first cousins are one-quarter Hispanic, one-quarter Chinese, one-quarter Italian and one-quarter German/British, to simplify.  They are middle-class Americans.

If we’re going to classify kids by race, then we should know who’s black-Hispanic and who’s Asian-Caucasian and who’s Samoan-Irish-Cherokee. Computers can do this in nanoseconds. But wouldn’t it be nice to stop.

Indian boy wins right to wear braids

An American Indian boy can wear braids to school, despite his Texas school district’s grooming policy, a federal appeals court ruled today, upholding a lower court ruling. AP reports:

The 5-year-old boy’s parents, Kenney Arocha and Michelle Betenbaugh, argued their son, identified in court papers as A.A., has a constitutional right to wear a hairstyle that conforms to his Native American religious beliefs.

. . . The boy wears his 13-inch-long hair in two braids outside his shirt.

The Needville Independent School District south of Houston had argued its grooming policy, which requires short hair for boys, teaches hygiene, promotes discipline and avoids disruptions.

“We feel vindicated in our beliefs that no parents should be forced to choose between their religion and culture and a public education for their children,” Arocha and Betenbaugh said in a news release.

It’s hard to argue that long hair isn’t hygienic for boys but is perfectly OK for girls. On the other hand, Needville may need to protect A.A. from Boy Named Sue issues. Sikhs don’t cut their hair for religious reasons. Boys often wear their hair in a topknot under a loose turban — and they do get teased and sometimes bullied for looking different.