- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 11, 2007

Ivy green

“Ninety percent of Harvard students come from families earning more than the median national income of $55,000, and Harvard’s dean of admissions was quoted in the Crimson … defining ‘middle-income’ Harvard families as those earning between $110,000 and $200,000. …

“It is hardly surprising that lots of rich kids go to America’s richest colleges. It has always been so. But today’s students are richer on average than their predecessors. …

“What explains the scarcity of low-income students at America’s selective colleges? The short answer is that very few apply. As William Bowen, Martin Kurzweil, and Eugene Tobin write in their book ‘Equity and Excellence in American Higher Education,’ students from low-income families tend early in life to fall behind in ‘cognitive skills, motivation, expectations … and practical knowledge about the college admissions process.’ Most lose hope of attending a top college long before the competition formally begins.”

— Andrew Delbanco, writing on “Scandals of Higher Education,” in the March 29 issue of the New York Review of Books

Population myth

“The human population has swelled so much that people alive today outnumber all those who have ever lived, says a factoid whose roots stretch back to the 1970s. … Yet, despite a quadrupling of the population in the past century, the number of people alive today is still dwarfed by the number of people who have ever lived.

“In 2002 Carl Haub, a demographer at the Population Reference Bureau, a nongovernmental organization in Washington, D.C., updated his earlier estimate of the number of people that have ever existed. To calculate this, he studied the available population data to determine the human population growth rates during different historical periods, and used them to determine the number of people who have ever been born. …

“[He] estimated that slightly over 106 billion people had ever been born. Of those, people alive today comprise only 6 percent.”

— Ciara Curtin, writing on “Fact or Fiction?: Living People Outnumber the Dead,” March 1 in Scientific American Online at www.scientificamerican.com

‘We can win’

“I would like to say that we have a very solid opportunity to make a success out of Iraq. But we need to allow General Petraeus — the man is brilliant and very experienced — the room to make this happen. He’s already making progress here. … I implore folks at home not to lose faith. … [The] morale here is good to high. The soldiers are not quitting. To the contrary, they want breathing room to win. This can be a success.

“Please recall that I was by far the first to say that Iraq is in a state of civil war. … I was, perhaps, the first to say that we were losing in Afghanistan when it was ‘common knowledge’ that we had won or were at least winning in Afghanistan. What I am trying to say is that I will absolutely deliver bad news when I see it. I see lots of bad news here and I report it. But I also see morale is good to high. I see a very real and achievable opportunity for some form of success. I see a commander, General David Petraeus, who needs our complete support. No matter what anyone thinks of our civilian leadership, please stick by us here in Iraq. We can win.”

— Michael Yon, a blogger imbedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, in an e-mail to Stephen Spruiell, posted in the Media Blog at National Review Online at www.national review.com

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