Care Ethics Essay

Using Care ethics as your theory, write a one-paragraph essay arguing what should be done about one of the six issues in the Issues Readings. Make sure to respond to the author’s arguments, whether care ethics comes to the same conclusion or not. Remember, briefly describe the issue, the theory, and what the theory would say about the issue and why.

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Performance-Based Funding
Race & Performance Based Funding
Posted by Mike LaBossiere on August 24, 2015 Leave a comment (6) Go to comments
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Florida, like some other states, has imposed performance based funding on its state universities. The
basic idea is that each state school is evaluated by ten standards and then the schools are ranked. The
top schools are rewarded and the bottom schools are punished.
As a runner and a professor, I certainly get the idea of linking rewards to performance. As a runner, I
believe that better performance merits the better awards (be it a gold medal, a fat stack of cash, or a
ribbon). As a professor, I believe that performance merits the better grades and that poor performance
merits the corresponding lower grades. However, I also recognize the importance of fairness.
In the case of running, a fair race requires that everyone must compete on the same course and under
the same conditions. The age and gender of the runners is also taken into account when assessing
performance and there are even age-graded performance formulas to take into account the ravages of
In the case of grading, a fair class requires that everyone is required to do the same work, receives the
same support from the professor, and that the assessment standards are the same. Fairness also
requires that special challenges faced by some students are taken into account. Otherwise, the
assessment is unjust.
The same applies to performance based funding of education. If the goal is to encourage better
performance on the part of all the schools, the competition needs to be fair. Going with a classroom
analogy, if a student knows that the class is rigged against her, she is not likely to be motivated to do her
best. There also seems to be an obvious moral requirement that the assessment be fair and this would
require considering the specific challenges that each school faces. Laying aside the normative aspects,
there is also the matter of accuracy: knowing how well a school in performing requires considering what
challenges it had to overcome.
While all the schools operate within the state of Florida and face similar challenges, each school also
faces some special challenges. Because of this, a proper and just assessment of a schools performance
(how well it does in educating students, etc.) should reflect these challenges. To simply impose
standards that fail to consider these challenges would be unfair and would also yield an inaccurate
account of the success or failure of the school. Consider the following analogy: imagine, if you will, that
the Pentagon adopted a performance based funding model for military units using various standards
such as cost of operations, causalities, how well the units got along with the locals and so on. Now
imagine that the special challenges of the units were not properly considered so that, for example, a
unit operating in the deserts of Iraq fighting ISIS was assessed the same way as a unit stationed in
Kentucky. As might be imagined, the unit in Iraq would certainly be assessed as performing worse than
the unit stationed in Kentucky. The unit in Kentucky would presumably cost less per person, have far
fewer causalities, and get along much better with the locals. As such, the unit fighting ISIS would find
itself in funding trouble since its performance would seem rather worse than the unit in Kentucky. Of
course, this approach would be irrational and unfair—the unit fighting ISIS might be performing
extremely well relative to the challenges it faces. The same, it would seem, should hold for schools.
Turning back to performance based funding, I will consider the relevant standards and how they are
unfair to my school, Florida A&M University.
Florida A&M University is an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and is still
predominantly African-American. The school also prides itself on providing educational opportunities to
students who have been denied such opportunities as well as those who are first generation college
students. Put roughly, we have many African-American students and a large number of students who
are burdened with economic and educational baggage.
As I have mentioned in a previous essay, FAMU fared poorly under the state’s standards. To be fair, we
honestly did do poorly in regards to the state’s standards. However, there are the important questions
as to whether the standards are fair and whether or not the assessment of our performance is accurate.
On the one hand, the answer to both questions can be taken as “yes.” The standards apply to all the
schools and the assessment was accurate in terms of the results. On the other hand, the answer is also
“no”, since FAMU faces special challenges and the assessment fails to take these into account. To use a
running analogy, the situation is like comparing the true 5K times of various runners. This is fair and
accurate in that all runners are using their 5K times and the times are accurate. However, if some
runners had to run hilly trails and others did their 5Ks on tracks, then the competition would not be fair.
After all, a slower 5K on a hilly trail could be a much better performance than a 5K on a track.
To get directly to the point, my claim is that FAMU faces the special challenge of racism and the legacy
of racism. This, I contend, means that FAMU is being assessed unfairly in terms of its performance:
FAMU is running hills on a trail while other schools are enjoying a smoother run around the track. In
support of this claim, I offer the following evidence.
One standard is the Percent of Bachelor’s Graduates Employed and/or Continuing their Education
Further. A second is the Average Wages of Employed Baccalaureate. The third is the Six Year Graduation
Rate and the fourth is the Academic Progress Rate (2nd Year Retention with GPA Above 2.0). These four
break down into two general areas. The first is economic success (employment and wages) and the
second is academic success (staying in school and graduating). I will consider each general area.
On the face of it, retention and graduation rates should have no connection to race. After all, one might
argue, these are a matter of staying in school and completing school which is a matter of personal effort
rather than race.
While I do agree that personal effort does matter, African-American students face at least two critical
obstacles in regards to retention and graduation. The first is that African-American students are still
often victims of segregation in regards to K-12 education and receive generally inferior education
relative to white students. It should be no surprise that this educational disadvantage manifests itself in
terms of retention and graduation rates. To use a running analogy, no one would be surprised if the
runners who were poorly trained and coached did worse than better trained and coached runners.
The second is economic, which ties directly into the standards relating to economic success. As will be
shown, African-Americans are far less well off than other Americans. Since college is expensive, it is
hardly surprising that people who are less well-off would have a harder time remaining in and
completing college. As I have discussed in other essays, the main (self-reported) reason for students
being absent from my classes is for work and there is a clear correlation between attendance and class
performance. I now turn to the unfairness of the state’s economic success standards.
While I do not believe that the primary function of the state university is to train students to be job
fillers for the job creators, I do agree that it is reasonable to consider the economic success of students
when evaluating schools. However, assessing how much the school contributes to economic success
requires considering the starting point of the students and the challenges they will face in achieving
To be blunt, race is a major factor in regards to economic success in the United States. This is due to a
variety of historical factors (slavery and the legacy of slavery) and contemporary factors (persistent
racism). These factors manifest themselves quite clearly and, as such, the relatively poor performance of
African-American graduates from FAMU is actually what should be expected.
In regards to employment, the University of Chicago conducted a study aimed at determining if there is
racial bias in hiring. To test this, the researchers responded to 1,300 job advertisements with 5,000
applications. They found that comparable resumes with white sounding names were 50% more likely to
get called for an initial interview relative to those with more African-American sounding names. The
researchers found that white sounding applications got call backs at a rate of 1 in 10 while for black
sounding names it was 1 in 15. This is clearly significant.
Interestingly, a disparity was also found in regards to the impact of experience and better credentials. A
white job applicant with a higher quality application was 30% more likely to get a call than a white
applicant with a lower quality application. For African-Americans, the higher quality application was only
9% more likely to get a call than a lower quality black application.
This disparity in the hiring process seems to help explain the disparity in employment. For whites, the
unemployment rate is 5.3% and it is 11.4% for blacks. As such, it is hardly surprising that AfricanAmerican students from FAMU are doing worse than students from schools that are mostly white.
Assuming that this information is accurate, this means that FAMU could be producing graduates as good
as the other schools while still falling considerably behind them in regards to the employment of
graduates. That is, FAMU could be doing a great job that is getting degraded by racism. As such, the
employment assessment would need to be adjusted to include this factor. Going with the running
analogy, FAMU’s African-American graduates have to run uphill to get a job, while white graduates get
to run on much flatter course.
In addition to employment, a graduate’s wages is also one of the standards used by the state. FAMU
fared poorly relative to the other schools here as well. However, this is also exactly what should be
expected in the United States. The poverty rate for whites is 9.7% while that for blacks it is 27.2%. The
median household wealth for whites is $91,405 and for blacks $6,446. Blacks own homes at a rate of
43.5% while whites do so at 72.9%. Median household income is $35,416 for blacks and $59,754 for
whites. As such, it would actually be surprising if African American graduates of FAMU competed well
against the statistics for predominantly white schools.
It might be contended that these statistics are not relevant because what is of concern is the
performance of African-American college graduates and not the general economic woes of AfricanAmericans. Unfortunately, college education does not close the racial wealth gap.
While the great recession had a negative impact on the wealth of most Americans, African-Americans
with college degrees were hits surprisingly hard: there net worth dropped 60% from 2007 to 2013. In
contrast, whites suffered a decline of 16% and, interestingly, Asians saw a slight increase. An analysis of
the data (and data going back to 1992) showed that black and Hispanics had more assets in housing and
more debts and these were major factors in the loss of wealth (the burst of the housing bubble crashed
house values). In terms of income, researchers take the main causes of the disparity to include
discrimination and career choices. In addition to the impact on salary, this wealth disparity also impacts
retention and graduation rates. As such, the state is right to focus heavily on economics—but the
standards need to consider the broader economic reality as well.
It is reasonable to infer that the main reason that FAMU fares worse in these areas is due to factors
beyond the control of the school. Most of our students are black and in the United States, discrimination
and enduring historical factors blacks do far worse than whites. As such, these poor numbers are more a
reflection of the poor performance of America than on the performance of Florida A&M University.
Because of this, the standards should be adjusted to take into account the reality of race in America.

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