From Harvard To High School

By Amie Hoeber


The U.S. Justice Department last week joined in support of a lawsuit challenging Harvard University’s admissions policy. Repercussions may eventually be felt down the academic ladder to elite high schools with limited enrollment policies, including some here in Maryland’s Montgomery County.

An organization calling itself Students for Fair Admissions sued Harvard four years ago contending its admissions policy discriminates against Asian-Americans. Indeed, Harvard’s own Office of Institutional Research acknowledged that Asian-Americans would make up 43% of the typical freshman class if academic achievement were the sole qualifying factor. Instead, Harvard’s Asian-American acceptance rate is half that, in part based on whether a university interviewer finds an applicant “likeable” or not. The Justice Department says that highly subjective assessment may be infected with racial bias.  

The Harvard lawsuit seems likely to go all the way to the Supreme Court and, ultimately, may affect not only colleges and universities but even so-called “magnet programs” in the nation’s high schools.

A 2016 study found enrollment in just such a program at Montgomery County’s Montgomery Blair High School was 57% Asian-American, 28% Caucasian and less than 5% each for Hispanics and Blacks. While no intentional discrimination was charged, the county nonetheless rewrote its admissions standards last year. As a result, black and Hispanic participation increased while Asian-American admissions declined.

Whether in a local high school or a world-famous university, the message to our students should be the same: hard work and personal achievement will bring opportunity for advancement. If new legislation is needed to achieve that, I will support it.

Anything less than totally fair admissions sends a bad signal to our youth.

Amie Hoeber, a Stanford graduate and former graduate student at Stanford,UCLA, American University and a gradute of the Advanced Leadership Institute at Harvard, and a former Deputy Undersecretary of the Army, is the Republican nominee for Congress in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District.


Improving Safety and Security

I will assist state and local police to combat the growing threat of the MS-13 gang and other threats to our personal safety and security. I will stand with Governor Hogan to fight the efforts to make Maryland a Sanctuary State. I will support measures to secure schools and other public gathering spots against shooters, including technical protection measures. I will also support common sense gun restrictions, stronger enforcement of current laws and better federal background checks for purchasers to ensure we keep guns out of the hands of people with mental illness. And I will use my national security expertise to help prepare us to address all the international threats to our country.


Creating Jobs

I will fight to ensure that more and better jobs come to CD-6, an effort that I have continuously pursued. Today new developments in artificial intelligence, automation, information technology, 3-D printing and other areas of innovation are reshaping traditional jobs and have the potential to further change the workplace.  We need to better anticipate the work of the future and enable individuals, institutions, private sector participants and governments to maximize the potential capabilities of the workforce. I will specifically encourage small businesses – the source of nearly two out of every three new jobs – to open throughout our District by reducing the time it takes to transform new ideas into companies – a key factor in economic development – and increasing the reach of small business incubators. I started a small business of my own some twenty-five years ago and helped open a new small business incubator in Montgomery County just recently. I understand the processes to start and grow such businesses.


School Safety

There was a special poignancy here in Maryland related to the past weekend’s demonstrations in Washington and communities across the country because the most recent shooting – at the Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s County – occurred in our own backyard. While it was not the only incidence of violence in a Maryland school, it is the most recent.  

Coincidentally, the same day as the shooting in St. Mary’s County, Carroll County announced that armed guards will be assigned to some of its public schools.

The marches were impressive, and hopefully will lead people to think about what is happening in our country and what can be done about it.  There are lots of aspects to this issue, but, at least partially, I believe we are reaping what Hollywood and video game makers have been sowing for years. A steady torrent of violence has been flooding over America’s youth. Most are able to recognize the difference between reality and fantasy, but some cannot.

There are only limited ways to tackle this, however. Constitutionally we cannot ban free expression, however distasteful, because that road could take us to tyranny. But as parents and grandparents we can and should say “no” to the common and constant use of violent games by our youth and, if enough of us do, the resulting economic pressure on the purveyors of violence may force change.

Additionally, some well-intentioned people are calling for severe restrictions on the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. That is akin to punishing the innocent for the crimes of the guilty and likely could not pass constitutional muster either. However, there are common sense restrictions that could and should be considered and that I would support, such as increasing the legal age at which one can purchase a gun and accomplishing a more comprehensive review of a purchaser’s criminal record and mental health.

But these steps will take time to develop properly, to implement and to have any meaningful impact. So the question remains: What can we do now to safeguard our schools?  My answers are:

 #1 – Lock the doors. At Sandy Hook in Connecticut and at Parkland in Florida, for example, the gunmen simply walked into the school. Some schools already require that doors be locked, but infrequently check to see that they remain so and are not, instead, propped open for someone’s convenience. This needs to be monitored.

 #2 – Coordinate with the police to have a cruiser in the general neighborhood during school hours – or perhaps make random visits. And provide teachers and other school personnel with emergency alerts such as you see advertised for when someone who has fallen needs to summon help.

#3 – Plan a defense strategy that teachers can practice with students. Schools routinely have fire drills. As sad as it is, it is now time to practice what to do in case of a shooter.

#4 – Insist that laws already on the books be enforced and that public safety organizations talk to each other. In the Florida shooting authorities failed to communicate.   

Will any of this stop a determined shooter? No. What it may do, however, is buy a precious minute or two for an in-school resource officer, such as the one at the Great Mills High School, to respond or for nearby police to arrive.

Down the road, but not very far, schools should also look to bolstering their defenses in the ways Governor Hogan has recommended…a fence, a gate, a metal detector, a mental health counselor, and perhaps more resource officers.  

Some will no doubt argue that more should be done, and they may be right but, as one weeping mother asked, “Why can’t we do anything to keep our children safe in school?” Answer:  we can. I will.


Other Issues

I will also work to:

  • Apply free market solutions to healthcare and eliminate the endless requirements and regulations that impede access to quality healthcare.
  • Ensure the availability of quality education, governed primarily at the local and state levels, focused on helping all students reach their maximum potential.
  • Ensure appropriate support and mentoring for women who are abused or otherwise in need of a hand of friendship.
  • And, as former Deputy Under Secretary of the Army, I feel strongly about about will fight to uphold this country's obligations to its veterans.


The Opioid Epidemic

Opioid Epidemic  I will continue to work with state and local officials to defeat the heroin and opioid epidemic – and the growing use of other addictive drugs such as “spice.” I’ve learned the horrors of addiction in our District during ride-...

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MDGOP Candidate