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Interview: Heather Mac Donald on California in Decline

It merely notifies the federal immigration authorities, today known as ICE, when an illegal alien is booked into jail and -- so that ICE can then decide whether or not it wants to take custody of that illegal alien once he's served his sentence for the possibility of deportation.  And California recently passed a law that is prohibiting local jails and -- and prisons from cooperating with ICE in any but the most egregious cases of -- of a criminal offense committed by an illegal alien. And this just contradicts everything that we've learned in Los Angeles with the reign of William Bratton, who brought the concept of broken windows policing to LA, and also in New York and other cities that misdemeanor offenses, so-called low-level offenses, including theft, which is viewed as a low-level offense from the prospective of -- of the anti-Secure Communities movement, those crimes matter in the health of the community, but -- but now we're basically saying, we don't have enough illegal aliens, apparently, and we want to make sure that we hold onto those we've got that are committing any number of misdemeanor offenses.

MR. DRISCOLL:  Speaking of California's demographics, what is the role that bilingual education plays in California's woes?

MS. MAC DONALD:  Well, California has tried to roll back bilingual education, to the dismay of many illegal alien advocates, and that was largely a successful effort.  However, even without formal bilingual education, the achievement gap between Hispanics and -- on the one hand, and Blacks, and Whites and Asians on the other, is still massive and it is resulting in even greater redistribution of resources.  Jerry Brown promoted and managed to get passed a law that would take taxpayer funds from relatively high-achieving middle-class schools and divert them to schools with high proportions of so-called English learners.  An English learner -- the naive might think that an English learner is somebody who grew up in Mexico, say, and came to this country at age 8 and is now trying to learn English, having been raised in Spanish.  That's not the case in California.  English learners are often students who were born in the United States and have lived here all their lives in California, but their cognitive skills, their linguistic skills, are so low they -- they come from Spanish-speaking households -- that they continue to be classified as English learners into their high school years, and never get classified out.

So I think that this imperative that California feels, as well as the nation, to try to work exclusively at the low end of education at the expense of the high end, and to worry about disparate impact -- it's been very hard to raise educational standards in California.  Every effort to try to increase the demands of -- of high school exit exams are -- are opposed on the ground that it would have a disparate impact on Hispanic students and Black students.  This is insane.  They are not worrying about disparate impact in China or -- or Singapore or Japan or Norway, the states that are outperforming us constantly.  They are trying to get their high-achievers to achieve even more spectacularly, and we are not going to be able to compete as a nation with our immigration policy that we have that favors low-skilled workers and -- and with an outlook that -- that says we worry about disparate impact of -- of officially color-blind meritocratic policies.

MR. DRISCOLL:  Heather, let’s talk a little bit about higher education. One of your essays in California: The Beholden State is titled “UC Two: Can a School Obsessed with Diversity Survive?”  As that headline implies, you write that the University of California is a bifurcated school, consisting of UC-1 and UC-2. What’s the difference between those two halves of the University of California system?

MS. MAC DONALD:  UC-1 is the one that is routinely paraded to alumni for more donations.  It is still the high-achieving science-based university that deserves support.  It deserves taxpayer's support, it deserves alumni support, and it is still holding on through -- through enormous effort and against the constant attacks of UC-2 to meritocratic standards.

UC-2, however, is the ever-growing, heavily bureaucratized, heavily red-taped, heavily diverse -- diversity-obsessed part of the university that believes that the most important thing of any campus is the racial gender, the gender -- the racial ratios, the gender ratios, and it is dedicated to the patently false proposition that UC remains a bigoted institution, and that somehow it is an unsafe space for women and minorities.