Schmidt, Peter 1964-
Schmidt, Peter 1964-
Born January 20, 1964, in Birmingham, MI.
Office—Chronicle of Higher Education, 1255 23rd St. N.W., 7th Fl., Washington, DC 20037.
Chronicle of Higher Education, Washington, DC, senior writer. Education Week, Bethesda, MD, former reporter.
Color and Money: How Rich White Kids Are Winning the War over College Affirmative Action, Palgrave Macmillan (New York, NY), 2007.
Author of the blog Color and Money.
Peter Schmidt wrote Color and Money: How Rich White Kids Are Winning the War over College Affirmative Action while on leave from his job with the Chronicle of Higher Education, where he is currently a senior writer. This volume is an assessment of contemporary college admissions and a history that begins in the 1900s, when the children of the wealthy went to boarding schools and were then automatically accepted into prestigious colleges and universities like Harvard and Yale. With the unrest of the 1960s and the advent of standardized tests, this situation was minimally corrected, but in present times, the applications of wealthy students are acted upon positively at a rate approximately twenty-five times higher than those of nonwealthy hopefuls. It is not just a matter of race, as Schmidt notes, but one of class. He writes that this is in direct conflict with the 2003 Supreme Court decision involving the University of Michigan that said that institutions of higher learning must be "visibly open to talented and qualified individuals of every race and ethnicity."
Students from working-class and/or segregated neighborhoods begin with disadvantages like limited exposure to artistic and cultural opportunities the wealthy are able to provide to their offspring, and the quality of their schools is very often dismally inferior. While colleges and universities talk about their affirmative action programs, the students who are admitted often drop out because of academic or financial problems.
Gary M. Lavergne reviewed Color and Money and three other books on the same topic in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Lavergne wrote that Color and Money "offers refreshing honesty, a disregard for political correctness, and the effective writing of an experienced and skilled reporter." However, Lavergne faulted all four books, including Schmidt's, on several points. He commented that there are no references to the effects of good parenting by parents who sacrifice and install in their children a high regard for education. Lavergne also suggested that single-parenting, crime in poor neighborhoods, high school graduation rates, and other factors be studied as to their impact on student success. For those students from the lower socioeconomic classes who do gain entrance, he suggests that studies be conducted that reveal how they are different from nonachievers. Lavergne concluded by writing: "Compared with the general population, elite colleges are overpopulated with affluent young people, but it is undeniable that such students are qualified to be there and are successfully earning diplomas. We need more acceptable alternatives for all who have demonstrated they can perform at such a high academic level—at a probable cost of hundreds of billions of dollars. Instead, with each legislative session we watch general appropriations increasingly account for a lower portion of total revenue that supports our institutions."
A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that Color and Money provides "a solid overview and a forceful reminder that money still trumps merit on the most prestigious campuses."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Chronicle of Higher Education, November 9, 2007, Gary M. Lavergne, review of Color and Money: How Rich White Kids Are Winning the War over College Affirmative Action.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2007, review of Color and Money.
Post and Courier, October 7, 2007, Zach Weir, review of Color and Money.
Washington City Paper, November 15, 2007, Mark Athitakis, review of Color and Money.
Campus Progress,http://campusprogress.org/ (October 16, 2007), Tim Fernholz, review of Color and Money.
Jack Lessenberry's Essays and Interviews,http://jackshow.blogs.com/ (August 20, 2007), Jack Lessenberry, audio interview.
Minding the Campus,http://www.mindingthecampus.com/originals/2007/10/color_and_money.html (October 18, 2007), George C. Leaf, review of Color and Money.
Mirror on America,http://mirroronamerica.blogspot.com/ (October 21, 2007), review of Color and Money.