13 May 2010

Government Of, By, And For, The Harvard and Yale Alumni

Chicago Boyz: Intellectual Nondiversity

David Bernstein observes that if Elena Kagan is confirmed then every single Supreme Court Justice will have attended Harvard or Yale law schools. He also observes that:

The president went to Harvard, and barely defeated a primary opponent who went to Yale. His predecessor went to Yale and Harvard, and defeated opponents who went to Yale and Harvard, and Harvard, respectively. The previous two presidents also went to Yale, with Bush I defeating another Harvard grad for the presidency.

..and asks, “Isn’t this a bit much?”

His post reminded me of something that Peter Drucker wrote, way back in 1968:

One thing (a modern society) therefore cannot afford in education is the “elite institution” which has a monopoly on social standing, on prestige, and on the command positions in society and economy. Oxford and Cambridge are important reasons for the English brain drain. A main reason for the the technology gap is the Grande Ecole such as the Ecole Polytechnique or the Ecole Normale…

By contrast, one of the strengths of American education is the resistance to any elite monopoly. To be sure, we have institutions that enjoy (deservedly or not) high standing and prestige. But we do not, fortunately, discriminate against the men who receive their training elsewhere. The engineer whose degree is from North Idaho A and M does not regard himself as “inferior” or as “not really an engineer.”….

And five or ten years later, nobody cares much about where the fellow got his degree…

From the comments to the linked post:

If confirmed by the Senate, Elena Kagan — President Obama’s choice to succeed retiring Justice John Paul Stevens — would be the third native New Yorker now sitting on the high court, along with Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. (Plus, Antonin Scalia grew up in Queens.)

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