Race. Gender. Religious affiliation. Age. National origin. Sexual inclination.

These are just a few of the growing list of criteria that cannot legally be used to make decisions on many important matters.

If you have a job to fill, an apartment to rent, or any other benefit to confer, you better be careful — discrimination is against the law.

California is the trendsetter in progressive politics, so it’s no surprise that the next great anti-discrimination trend is emerging there. It is now illegal to discriminate in favor of INTELLIGENCE.

Cuesta College’s Nursing School has stopped using grades as criteria for admission — they now use a lottery. The school’s new policy is a response to a directive from the Chancellor’s Office that stated that “artificial barriers” to professional programs should be eliminated. Cuesta decided that grades were an “artificial barrier.”

This all came as a rude surprise to Judy Downing. She had dreamed of doing “something that’s more fulfilling, something for mankind.” So after a full day of work as an electronic technician, Ms. Downing spent four hours a night taking anatomy and microbiology classes. Then, after spending eight hours at work and four hours at school, she would start studying, usually beginning at 11:00pm.

Judy’s work paid off — or so she thought. She got all A’s in the required courses. But Judy was working on an outdated assumption — that merit would have something to do with the selection criteria at the nursing school. Foolish indeed. Cuesta picked the 38 future nurses in a lottery — pulling names at random from a group of 156 applicants who met minimum qualifications. Judy Downing’s name was not pulled from the hat.

“We can’t discriminate in favor of students who get A’s over students who maybe getting B’s,” said Ann Grant, dean of instruction for nursing at Cuesta. Most students admitted to the nursing school in pre-lottery days had A averages — now a student with all C’s has the same chance as a straight A student.

Another student, Susan Jolly, also didn’t make the lottery selection. “You work so hard for so long to get really good grades in really hard classes. (Then) you find out it really doesn’t matter.”

Here at the DO we applaud this trend. Regular readers will have long ago realized that we’re not too intelligent or articulate. We’re also not aesthetically advantaged. Of course, we abandoned virtue when it went out of style, so long ago. Since we have little in the way of brains, looks, or character, we think the brave new system of advancement by lottery could do wonders for our future prospects.

Just think — if trends continue, we’ll be able to become chairman of Microsoft. (Our lack of knowledge of computing is clearly an artificial barrier.”) Hollywood starlets will be compelled to accept our amorous advances. (No discrimination in favor of handsome men will be tolerated.) And we’ll set a new precedent by designing the next generation of nuclear weapons. (We had previously thought this door was closed to us, just because we failed our “Physics for Poets” class in college.)

We’re also looking forward to performing open-heart surgery, perhaps assisted by a team of Cuesta-trained nurses.

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  1. never doubt the power of stupid people in large numbers

    Time: 11/16/97 (0:0:1)

    Wow! You mean to tell me now we can even have “bonzo go to med school” ? Well, why not we , after all most of us voted a grede -B actor with Altzheimers disease to the presidency of the United States ,not once but twice. And then as an encore we vote Dan Quail, a man who got his law degree through a program for the disadvantaged and whose main job at the law office he worked at was running the photocopy machine(I kid you not folks this is verifiable fact), as vice president . This seems like a national tradition.

    Time: 11/15/97 (22:48:42)

    Response to Noam:

    The notion of correlating academic achievement with parental income is complete idiocy.

    We could say that a child living in a low income area may get A’s as a child in a high income area might and further the better correlation MIGHT be that the child from the higher income had a better school and that his/her A might go further. Its a stretch either way as I have seen exceptional schools in lower and higher income areas. The childrens’ succes usually comes to to enculturation. Thats right I said it CULTURE! What a dirty word. I mean clearly that children that come from homes that respect the attainment of education will most likely do better. Their parents’ bank account balance are not the correlating factor to inteligence.

    So what does this mean in reality. Families that have higher incomes are most likely to strive a little harder than those around them and will pass along their same work habits and or drive to their children.

    Typical liberal BS to blame income or lack there of, on a lack of willingness to achieve. God help you Noam if you ever get stuck on a commercial flight in which the captain and co-pilot were picked by a lottery and both have low intelligence and low flight time. (It will never happen.)

    Have fun,
    Cory Adams

    Time: 11/15/97 (19:59:54)

    What abuot Egnlish majros? Eye cants pass any of tests I have now. Does Cuesto take dem?

    Maybe this “policy” should be implemented throughout higher education.

    Grading, be it fair or a horrendous circumsision or your academic talents (my prolem – exactly), is still the best way to measure “innate” skills and an individuals level of perseverance.

    Instead of offering these “students” a an opportunity for a degree, the administrators of Cuesta should instead offer them the phone number of a good lawyer.

    Ignorance, amazingly so, seems to reproduce on a grand scale.

    Time: 11/15/97 (18:32:42)

    To whom it may concern,

    I would like you doing my neurosurgery as much as I would like nurses, who were not inteligent enough or hard working enough to obtain excellent grades, caring for me.

    Grades may in some ways be artificial barriers, yet they may also be guideposts for individuals’ abilities and strengths.

    When you schedule your neurosurgery, let me know your opinion about the abilities of your health care providers!

    Time: 11/15/97 (18:27:51)

    To whom it may concern,

    I would like you doing my neurosurgery as much as I would like nurses, who were not inteligent enough or hard working enough to obtain excellent grades, caring for me.

    Grades may in some ways be artificial barriers, yet they may also be guideposts for individuals’ abilities and strengths.

    When you schedule your neurosurgery, let me know your opinion about the abilities of your health care providers!

    Time: 11/15/97 (17:3:12)

    If only we could find a poor, black, female, ex convict, vietnam veteran, who is blind, crippled, unintelligent, and homeless; deranged, aids carrying, and a devout satanist…If this person were an illegal immigrant, environmentalist, vegetarian, UN supporting, anti-gun, drug abuser, who enjoys Marx, but drives a Volvo… we’d have the ultimate liberal citizen, who would qualify for everything. We’d have to elect this person to be world dictator for life, and would establish a polytheistic religion around her. Only then would our sins be reconciled and our souls purged…and life would be good!

    I Can’t wait!

    Time: 11/15/97 (13:14:22)

    If nothing else, grades do give some indication of intellect and a glimer of a work ethic. I suppose nexct you will tell us that considering the school af nursing attended, and even demanding some evidence of attending, or for that matter graduating from any approved , oops there I go again, school of nursing, or the posession of a license, earned by pasing a state board of nursing test, is discrimination. These people are stupid. Ignorance can be cured, but stupid is forever.

    Time: 11/15/97 (10:59:41)

    Administrators of the nursing school are having a temper tanrum because they have been deprived of affirmative action. Their decisions are childish, harmful to students seeking a nursing education, and bad for the school.The sooner clearer heads prevail the better.

    Time: 11/15/97 (9:23:55)

    The government is always citing examples of foreign countries that have better educated students than the US. How could such a thing happen?? Also, where is the incentive to try or compete?

    If it won’t help anyway, why bother. So close the schools. Now there’s a tax reduction idea. Maybe the government will jump on it.

    Time: 11/15/97 (9:1:45)

    great, i alwayse wantid to be a nurse!!! now i can be put in charg of sik ppl!!!

    Time: 11/15/97 (6:0:21)

    “Government cannot make us equal; it can only recognize, respect, and protect us as equal before the law.” – Clarence Thomas

    “One trend that bothers me is the glorification of stupidity, that it’s all right not to know anything.” – Carl Sagan

    You have to be an intellectual to believe such nonsense. No ordinary man could be such a fool. – George Orwell

    Time: 11/15/97 (4:49:12)

    I’ve been forwarded your DO by a physics professor I don’t even know, but since I seem to have a polar view to everyone else here, I’m compelled to voice my opinion.

    The tone of your report, as well as the literal content, imply that you are making a few false assumptions. The biggest mistake, in my humble opinion, is to assume that grades simply correlate perfectly with merit. It wouldn’t be that way even if grading systems were perfect (and we all know they aren’t), and it certainly isn’t that way for other relevant reasons.

    Good grades are highly correlated with, for instance, parental income. Any dimwit from a rich family has better chances at getting good grades than a dimwit from a poor one, because his family can afford him better education. He may even get better grades than more intelligent poor kids. His “merit” is an outcome of income, not of natural intelligence, and yet he will have better job oppurtunities, despite society’s best interests.

    There may be other factors contributing to getting_good_grades that are irrelevant to being good nurses (or flight mechanics). Some factors may be downright harmful – consider a hypothetical case of a nursing school applicant who cheated her way through high school and got her good grades that way. Would she be a good nurse?

    Which leads me to a second false assumption, that grades & “intelligence” (an unclear concept often defined as “that thing measured by I.Q. tests) are relevant to being good at one’s profession. Intelligence is only one ingredient that we would want to put into the pot. We base so many of our tests on it only because there is an agreed (if silly) way to measure it. We don’t measure compassion.

    We don’t measure the abilty to make decisions under stressful conditions. We don’t measure a lot of qualities that are at least as important as good grades. And when we do measure, the tiny difference between a B student and a B+ student tells us nothing about her nursing skills – and is as much a question of luck as anything. The quality of the tests we do use is so bad, that lottery might actually be better.

    All that said, I do not think the specific lottery system we discuss is very good either. To balance irrelevant or harmful factors like parental income or cunning, and to substract from the pervasive importance we attach to “intelligence”, we have to combine between better tests for various skills, and lotteries among those who have achieved a minimum on all tests. That way we rule out the possibilty of getting nurses whose best skills are at studying American history 30 nights in a row with a private tutor.

    Time: 11/15/97 (0:30:52)

    A COUNTERPOINT: Let us all not forget that some people don’t do well in school, but are excellent at what they studied in school. There are many par and sub-par people in every profession. I am an aircraft mechanic, and the people that don’t quite get it are “lubrication and light bulb professionals”.

    Everyone one who travels on aircraft can thank the supervisors for this. In school, the instructors had a saying, “Medical professionals can only kill one person at a time… You have a responsability to hundreds of people everyday”.

    I think of this saying constantly. I hope the nursing proffesion will do the same and have these inadequate nurses changing linens, taking temperatures, and cleaning bedpans.

    Time: 11/14/97 (21:51:1)

    This is a trend that may sweep the country. But the nursing school didn’t carry it far enough. If qualifications are an artificial barrier for gaining entrance to the school then having to attend classes and learn something is an artificial barrier for graduation. No standards for admittance, then no standards for graduating.

    Once we have reached this level of enlightenment then we can do away with the school completely and confer “Registered Nurse” status on anyone who is articulate to enough to say “I want to be an R.N.”. Look at all the time and money that would be saved by not enduring the inconvenience of attending classes, studying and taking exams. It sounds wonderful.

    Time: 11/14/97 (18:13:59)

    This was a comment I received from a Cuesta College student who replied to today’s article when I re-posted it to a private mail group:

    I’m from Atascadero, CA- a small town just north of San Luis Obispo- and I am a student at Cuesta College.

    One argument in favor of the new policy is that it is just as important for nurses to be caring and compassionate towards their patients as it is for them to be intelligent. Some have even carried the argument so far as to say that people who get C’s are more compassionate than people who get A’s. Frankly, I’d be happy to have a rude nurse as long as she knew how to take care of me.

    Cuesta also argues that the students will not make it through the nursing program if they can’t pass the classes, so it doesn’t matter what grades they are admitted with. The logical question then is “why admit people who aren’t going to pass in the first place and turn down people who would pass.”

    This new policy is indeed an outrage. The scary part is that schools across the state seem to think that it is a wonderful new idea. In fact, Cuesta is not the only school using this policy. Apparently they adopted the idea from a school in northern California.

    This lottery idea sounds great!! Perhaps we could use it for our elected officials. We could just put all the candidates names in a hat and pull out one for President and one for Vice President and so on. We certainly wouldn’t be any worse off than we are now.

    Time: 11/14/97 (18:9:8)

    This is in respone to Lynn’s posting. No one is saying that we should disrespect or discriminate against anyone.

    We’re simply saying that there are only a limited number of opportunities at any given time. Those opportunities should go to those who have demonstrated that they can make the most of them. Put yourself in the shoes of the patients these nursing students will someday serve. Would you want a nurse who is marginally qualified, or one who consistently excells?

    No one is saying that the students with lower grades aren’t worthwhile people. No one is saying that they might not be good at any number of other things. We’re just saying that they haven’t earned the opportunity to go to this school. The fact that they get this opportunity, while more qualified students are denied, is unfair to the more qualified students.

    Time: 11/14/97 (17:50:31)

    A lot of people are going to be harmed because a few idiots won’t wake up and realize that, in real life, the hare practically always beats the tortoise.

    Time: 11/14/97 (17:24:20)

    you are the BEST!!!!!!!!!!!! THANKS for a GREAT Service,

    Paul H. Wirth

    Time: 11/14/97 (16:45:20)

    Sorry, That was Scott I was referring to, not Steve. Maybe I should apply to that nursing school.

    Time: 11/14/97 (16:43:17)

    To Scott:

    Maybe the administration of the nursing school also attended schools which did not discriminate on the basis of intelligence!

    Time: 11/14/97 (15:28:3)

    There is nothing that surprises me in today’s society. There are people who read and understand what is going on, however wish to remain stagnant. As the world turns, one day when these changes effect their lives, the lives of their children or the lives of their grandchildren, it will be too late to be heard and understood when speaking.

    Time: 11/14/97 (14:23:41)

    I think discrimination is very bad because we are not here to judge any one and it would be very nasty to not like somebody just because they are black , jewish,hispanic or whatever.All those peopl are human and there deserve to be treated with just as much respect as we should be getting.

    Time: 11/14/97 (13:59:13)

    It all comes down to, “them that can, do, and them that can’t or won’t, cry discrimination”.

    Time: 11/14/97 (13:9:5)

    If I were Judy Downing, I would not be concerned about getting into that particular nursing school. Obviously, if they are going to allow entry based upon a lottery, the curriculum has to be “dumbed” down in order to permit those who have not applied themselves to excel. Having gone to a nursing school which prides itself on nursing excellence, research, and scholarship, I believe one gets what one pays for. Of course, I also see examples of nursing care which makes me wonder how these particular nurses ever passed the boards.

    Time: 11/14/97 (12:36:53)

    I am a retired nurse and am very aware of this problum you mentioned in today’s outrage. They started lowering standards 30 years ago to favor some unqualified people. In the last 10 years it has gotten worse. Any borderline half-wit can be a nurse, that is how much they have lowered the standards. I think it will continue to get worse. Thank you for letting me voice my opinion.

    Time: 11/14/97 (12:12:30)

    Hmmm….Interesting concept. It’s fair to say the nursing profession can often be characterized by a series of life or death situations taking place during a grueling work schedule. It makes perfect sense then, to put a system in place which ensures the majority of those you train will be of average intelligence and have mediocre work habits. Why would you want your health in the hand of someone so obviously committed and driven as the engineer who put herself through school at night. Everytime I think the education system in this country can’t get any worse, I hear a story like this. How could anyone with any perspective and intelligence whatsoever put such a system in place!?

    Time: 11/14/97 (11:59:12)

    Having slouched our way to Gomorrah, we may now commence our slouch towards idiocy. What a wonderful way to start.

  2. This is typical of our current guilt-ridden need to lower standards to the lowest common denominator. The idea is to put “fairness” ahead of competance or achievment. This is one of the great injustices of our time, and it makes me sick every time I hear about it.

    What we need is a meritocracy; what we have is a loserocracy.

  3. Imagine you are very sick and could possibly die. And you are in a hospital. Which nurse do you want to inject you with medicine? The one that got C’s and HALF the answers WRONG. Or the one that got 99% of the medical answers RIGHT. Nobody wants garbage. Get it straight for once in your life.

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