Honestly, that was my first thought after reading the responses on this blog to my column yesterday on holistic admissions.

First, Mr. Szarzynski, I never said that the UW admissions policy is rejecting white students in favor of unqualified black students. I have actually never made that argument. The argument that I have consistently made about holistic admissions since the controversy began is that the policy is an attempt to make the UW more racially diverse without a serious discussion about why there are so few minorities in the system to begin with.

Again, as I have said before, the policy is racist in that it is the insidious and patronizing form of racism that in essence says to the minority students in Wisconsin: "You can't succeed without our help, so we're going to change the standards so you can get in." That is the racism that I see in the policy. My outrage over the holistic admissions policy has never been that it necessarily discriminates against white students, but that it does nothing at all to seriously help minority students succeed.

Now, I am fairly certain that Mr. Lichtenheld and Mr. Szarzynski and many others on the Left will not believe that or will somehow find a way to twist that around in an attempt to portray me as some sort of knuckle-dragging, neoconservative racist, but I really do care a great deal about the problems within our inner-cities and minority students. It damages all of society for such a large portion of its members to be trapped in a continuous cycle of poverty and underachievement. It need not be this way, but in order to address the problem we have to start talking seriously about socio-economic factors and the culture of inner-cities. Reducing class size is not the solution to the problem.

According to statistics compiled by The McGraw-Hill Company, a leading textbook publisher, MPS schools have an average class size of about 17 students. A far cry from 40 per class as Mr. Szarzynski alleges, isn't it? Would a reduction to 15 really make that much of a difference? I doubt that very much. We should instead begin focusing on changing how we teach in our inner-cities and how to get parents more involved in their child's education. That is how we will ultimately solve the problem and improve minority achievement in our schools.

Mr. Lichtenheld actually helped prove my point when he said that "Whether skeptics wish to admit it, there is a clear connection between race and class in America. Holistic admissions policies are, in part, built on these realities. They don't stand to provide 'handouts'; only to acknowledge the inherent disadvantages that come with being a particular skin color." That is the problem that I am trying to address; it should not be that the admissions policy has to compensate for the failure of the public school system. By acknowledging these "realities" the admissions policy does nothing to actually correct them. The focus must be on repairing the broken system — not by throwing money at it, but by actually working in the inner-cities with the students, parents and teachers to find a way that will actually work, not just make a few politicians and bureaucrats feel good about themselves.