Glenn Loury, a Brown University economics professor and host of the video blog The Glenn Show, criticized the need for affirmative action policies in education during the current era. Speaking at Malibu’s Pepperdine University School of Public Policy earlier this month, he explained black students do poorly on tests when they “don’t know the material” and not due to biases against them, urging educators to develop potential instead of lowering standards.
The lecture, titled “Preserving the American Project: The Bias Narrative vs. the Development Narrative,” explored the components that both lead to and hinder greater economic opportunity and broader societal flourishing.
Loury, an economic theorist and expert on social capital, attributed poor test results of black students to a lack of preparation, not biases against them.
“If our kids are testing poorly — I’m talking about black kids — it’s not because the test is biased against them, it’s because they do not know the material,” he said.
On Affirmative Action in 2021: If (black) kids do poorly on the tests it's not because they're victims of bias. It's because they don't know the material. Please don't lower standards. Develop their potential instead! pic.twitter.com/Lh9k54ylZ7
— Glenn Loury (@GlennLoury) June 14, 2021
Noting the ability of others to succeed in education, Loury branded those who think blacks cannot do the same as “racist.”
“If a poor Asian kid living in a three-room apartment with four siblings can ace the test, our kids can do it too,” he said. “Anybody who doesn’t think so is a racist.”
He then criticized those who lower expectations for blacks.
“They have the racism of low expectations about black people,” he said. “They write us off; they think we are defeated by history; they patronize us, presuming that we can’t actually perform. ‘Yes, we can’t’ becomes their mantra,” he added.
Loury then stated that given equal opportunities, black students will thrive.
“Black Americans can perform, we just need to do the work and we don’t have to do it by ourselves,” he said.
“Give us an opportunity to confront the deficits and redress them, maintaining a level playing field,” he added.
He then called on others to refrain from lowering the bar for blacks in order for them to achieve.
“Do not lower the bar for us and we’ll measure up in the fullness of time,” he said.
“It may not happen tomorrow, and it may not happen the next day, but it will happen in the fullness of time. I say this as a matter of faith,” he added.
Loury continued by explaining that times have changed.
“I can understand that in 1970, with all the rabble-rousing and whatnot, and the universities having to meet the protesters halfway and whatnot, that they did what they did,” he said.
“But this is not 1970, this is 2021. We’re a half-century past all of that and we’re laying down a predicate for how we are to go forward from here,” he added.
He also called for the actual problem to be faced head-on.
“This ‘no, it’s not equality, It’s equity’ bunk is a surrender in the face of the problem that we actually confront,” he said. “The problem is to develop black people so that proportionately more of us exhibit the mastery requisite to being successful in these competitive venues.”
Last week, the Biden Department of Education outlined how it will spend the “American Rescue Plan’s historic funding for schools” in order to advance “equity” as a central focus of education in the nation’s public schools.
Many voiced support for the professor’s willingness to speak out on the matter.
“Wokism is about the racist (virtue signaling) bigotry of low expectations,” wrote Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass. “Thank God for @GlennLoury.”
— John Kass (@John_Kass) June 15, 2021
“Professor Loury is a brilliant & prescient voice in the American intellectual tradition,” wrote political commentator Christian Watson. “All Americans should heed his words.”
Professor Loury is a brilliant & prescient voice in the American intellectual tradition. All Americans should heed his words. https://t.co/hNh9WBuFF3
— Christian Watson (@OfficialCWATSON) June 14, 2021
“Dignity. That’s what ‘equity’ and CRT take away from blacks and minorities,” wrote another.
“Beautifully said,” wrote yet another user. “As a minority myself I agree 100%.”
“Give us the tools, level the playing field and DEVELOP the potential,” the user added. “I too sir have faith that we ALL can succeed.”
Beautifully said. As a minority myself I agree 100%. Give us the tools, level the playing field and DEVELOP the potential. I too sir have faith that that we ALL can succeed. https://t.co/InOasiumtx
— ForTheRepublic🇺🇸 (@For_TheRepublic) June 15, 2021
The lecture comes as the battle over Critical Race Theory in schools has resulted in nationwide tension.
The theory, which is promoted by many on the left, claims that all of our institutions — our government, our economy, our culture — are based on racial hierarchy, with whites on top and blacks at the bottom, and even that which appears race-neutral is, on closer inspection, racist.
Last month, Loury blasted the teaching of identity politics in higher education, calling it a “criminal abdication of our pedagogic responsibilities,” while asserting a teacher’s responsibility is to challenge students’ preconceptions about themselves.
“To teach young people that they are this [the color of their skin] is criminal in my opinion,” he stated. “We’re to challenge them!” he exclaimed.
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.