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SAT Unfair Judge of Blacks and Hispanics

Letters

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

In Alex Carter's article (Opinion, Oct. 28), he argued that the SAT should not be abandoned in California simply because the University of California regents believe the test to be culturally biased.

The black and Hispanic communities have traditionally been in the poorer classes of American society. Therefore, the kinds of opportunities available to them are not the same as the ones available for the richer section of our society. While the parents of a five-year-old white child might be reading books to their children before they go to sleep, the parents of a black or Hispanic child might be working to support their children. The lower classes of the American society have a lot of hurdles to overcome if they are to succeed in moving up the economic ladder.

The same is true of the SATs. In the suburbs, the richer section of society can learn new SAT words in their everyday life just by picking up a newspaper at home or by hearing their parents speak, while the poorer city kids have to worry about crimes and drugs in their neighborhood. Just by growing up in a better learning environment, most whites and Asians will be more prepared to take the SAT than blacks and Hispanics. In addition, it is not surprising to see that it is mostly whites and Asians that can afford preparatory courses for the college admission tests or private tutors for their children. Those who cannot afford Kaplan or Princeton Review, however, are left only with books and their own self-motivation to prepare themselves for the exams.

The SAT therefore loses its ability to equitably differentiate between applicants. The test becomes a measure to distinguish the different lifestyles of the rich and the poor. It is not impossible for an average black or Hispanic teenager to get a high score. But because most whites and Asians have more opportunities to learn available to them from an early age, it is much harder for Hispanics and blacks to achieve relatively high scores.

Maybe by abandoning the SAT, the University of California regents will just eliminate another advantage rich people have over poor people by providing an opportunity for the misrepresented segments of the society to overcome some of the hurdles that they are born with. Douglas I. Lin '99

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