Some good news

It didn’t get a lot of attention, but I found this news story profoundly encouraging. The University of California for the first time admitted more Hispanic students than whites–29% of admissions vs. 27%. (Asians were at 36%.)

For those of you unfamiliar with the University of California system: while UCLA, Berkeley and UC San Diego are seen as the elite programs, it’s hard to get into any of the nine undergraduate programs. And there are no preferences given–not for race, income, or background of any sort. Not even to children of alumni. (Okay, yes, athletes do get special treatment.)

It’s not so much of a deal that Hispanics bested whites. Among younger Californians, they are almost half the population–so they are still underrepresented. (Whites are too, but only by a couple of percentage points.) What’s striking to me is that Hispanic students in such sizeable numbers are performing at an elite level.

Historically Hispanic immigrants haven’t done well academically. There’s been substantial effort to improve their education, and this number suggests it is paying off. Or maybe it’s just the assimilation effect. Immigrant populations tend to change as they become second and third-generation Americans.

Whatever the reason, it’s encouraging news. Immigration and assimilation have always been a big part of the American success story, and that seems to be continuing.

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