Now if by fair you mean that people shouldn't be discriminated against, then I completely agree. Here are some of Mr. Sowell's thoughts on the subject:
Many people fail to see the fundamental difference between saying that a particular thing-- whether a mental test or an institution-- is conveying a difference that already exists or is creating a difference that would not exist otherwise.
Creating a difference that would not exist otherwise is discrimination, and something can be done about that. But, in recent times, virtually any disparity in outcomes is almost automatically blamed on discrimination, despite the incredible range of other reasons for disparities between individuals and groups.In Part II, Mr. Sowell continues this theme with a discussion of a school district in Berkley.
The point is to close educational gaps among groups, or at least go on record as trying. As with most equalization crusades, whether in education or in the economy, it is about equalizing downward, by lowering those at the top.
This is not justice (social or otherwise). These sorts of actions rob those who can/are doing well to achieve their full potential. Do we really want everyone to be equally poorly educated? Mr. Sowell then continues:
Those with that vision do not want to even discuss evidence that students from different groups spend different amounts of time on homework and different amounts of time on social activities. To admit that inputs affect outputs, whether in education, in the economy or in other areas, would be to undermine the vision and agenda of the left, and deprive those who believe in that vision of a moral melodrama, starring themselves as defenders of the oppressed and crusaders against the forces of evil.
Redistribution of material resources has a very poor track record when it comes to actually helping those who are lagging, whether in education, in the economy or elsewhere. What they need are the attitudes, priorities and behavior which produce the outcomes desired.Justice is allowing the legal or natural rewards/consequences of ones actions to come to rest. The just thing is to reward those who excel in school. Mercy allows for helping those behind change their study habits, etc. But it is injustice to truncate the learning of those who are excelling or pass people who are failing.
Then in Part III, Mr. Sowell continues:
Society may lavish thousands of dollars [in the US about $9700 per student] per year on schooling for a youngster who does not bother to study, and yet when he or she emerges as a semi-literate adult, it is considered to be society's fault if such youngsters cannot get the same kinds of jobs and incomes as other youngsters who studied conscientiously during their years in school.
It is certainly a great misfortune to be born into families or communities whose values make educational or economic success less likely. But to have intellectuals and others come along and misstate the problem does not help to produce better results, even if it produces a better image.
I feel like I must say it again. Education of children is the responsibility of the parents not "society" or the government. If a child comes out of school semi-literate, it is because of the failed responsibility of the parents. An awesome example of a parent taking responsibility is the mother of Dr. Ben Carson (pioneering pediatric brain surgeon). She was a poor, illiterate, black woman raising her sons alone. She also suffered from extreme depression. Yet she encouraged her sons to learn and do well in school and set high standards for them. I highly encourage you to watch the move Gifted Hands to learn more about this amazing woman and her amazing son.
Mr. Sowell continues,
But criteria exist precisely to have a disparate impact on those who do not have what these criteria exist to measure. Track meets discriminate against those who are slow afoot. Tests in school discriminate against students who did not study.
Disregarding criteria in the interest of "fairness"-- in the sense of outcomes independent of inputs-- adds to the handicaps of those who already have other handicaps, by lying to them about the reasons for their situation and the things they need to do to make their situation better.
Not allowing people to experience the consequences of their actions is often an injustice. If everyone won the race, the slower people would not be motivated to train harder and do better. If everyone passes and your parents don't care, where is the motivation to learn to read? Justice allows natural consequences to take place.