Two stories floating around today have gotten me wondering about the nature of “equality,” and now certain groups see the best way to achieve fairness.
In today’s Boston Globe, the president of Simmons College — an all-women’s school — has a piece up arguing for their preservation. She says that these bastions of feminine education and development should and must be maintained, as is, and resist the fate of many other schools that have bowed to financial and other pressures and admitted men.
For some reason, though, I don’t hear much about all-male schools. The last time I recall any making the news was in regards to The Citadel and the Virginia Military Institute, when they were sued into admitting women.
Also, Massachusetts’ Democratic nominee for governor, Deval Patrick, finds himself in hot water over his (apparently past) infatuation with a brutal rapist. Patrick was written by Benjamin LaGuer, who was convicted of brutally raping and nearly killing an elderly woman. LaGuer wrote to the NAACP for help, and Patrick was assigned his case. He wrote several letters to LaGuer’s parole board, urging his release, as recently as 2000. (Patrick has said, alternately, that he last attempted to help LaGuer 10 or 15 years ago.)
One must never forget that one of the powers of the Governor of Massachusetts is to grant commutations of sentences, as well as outright pardons.
But enough of that. There’s another aspect of Patrick’s past that troubles me at least as much, if not more.
In 1989, the Piscataway, New Jersey school board found it had to lay off a teacher. Under state law, layoffs have to be made in order of reverse seniority. Since two of the eligible teachers had been hired on the same day, one would expect the school board to follow its earlier example and flip a coin. Instead, they voted to lay off the white teacher and keep the black one.
The white teacher, Sharon Taxman, sued, saying that she had been discriminated against based on her race. She said that it could not have been based on merit, because she possessed a Master’s degree, while the other teacher only had a Bachelor’s.
The case wound its way up through the courts, and eventually the Civil Rights division of the Department of Justice got involved. And that’s when Deval Patrick entered the picture.
Patrick took charge of the situation and took an absolute line. There would be NO settlement, NO negotiations, Taxman’s layoff would stand. And it stayed that way until after Patrick left, when civil rights groups — fearing that a victory for Taxman would strike a blow to affirmative action — put up the money to settle the matter out of court.
So that’s the kind of guy who wants to be Massachusetts’ next governor. And, as of the most recent polling, stands to make it.