The God that failed:
Today’s meritocrats still claim to get ahead through talent and effort, using means open to anyone. In practice, however, meritocracy now excludes everyone outside of a narrow elite. Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale collectively enroll more students from households in the top 1 percent of the income distribution than from households in the bottom 60 percent. Legacy preferences, nepotism, and outright fraud continue to give rich applicants corrupt advantages. But the dominant causes of this skew toward wealth can be traced to meritocracy. On average, children whose parents make more than $200,000 a year score about 250 points higher on the SAT than children whose parents make $40,000 to $60,000. Only about one in 200 children from the poorest third of households achieves SAT scores at Yale’s median. Meanwhile, the top banks and law firms, along with other high-paying employers, recruit almost exclusively from a few elite colleges.
Hardworking outsiders no longer enjoy genuine opportunity. According to one study, only one out of every 100 children born into the poorest fifth of households, and fewer than one out of every 50 children born into the middle fifth, will join the top 5 percent. Absolute economic mobility is also declining—the odds that a middle-class child will outearn his parents have fallen by more than half since mid-century—and the drop is greater among the middle class than among the poor. Meritocracy frames this exclusion as a failure to measure up, adding a moral insult to economic injury.
This isn’t the only reason why “aptitude” testing cannot produce egalitarian institutions, but it’s one of them:
The Kaplan SAT prep courses start at $899. For $1599, Princeton Review guarantees a score of 1400 or above. Make it $3699, and they guarantee a 1500 or higher.
There aren’t enough guidance counselors in the world, let alone public schools, to make up for this kind of disparity. https://t.co/BWQGQeSj0P— Scafe for America (@erinscafe) August 20, 2019
And yet giving money to Harvard is an instant way of being social respectability no matter how gross your behavior is.