The U.S. Department of Education's announcement last week that it would cut off funds to colleges and universities that designated scholarships for minority students touched off a predictable controversy that already may have the administration backpedaling from its hardline position. The latest reports suggested that President Bush had been taken by surprise by the new policy and that it is now under White House review.
To put the controversy in its proper perspective, it's worth recalling that only a day before the scholarship flap broke, former Education Secretary William Bennett, in an interview with The Sun's Paul West, had tried to use the issue of minority scholarships to tone down his earlier opposition to affirmative action.
"What I said," Bennett told West, "is not that I'm opposed to affirmative action but I am opposed to counting by race. When we found out at the Department of Education that if a black high school student had a 'B' average, he had a better chance of going to college than a white student, we thought that was dynamite. Diversity is not a bad aim, in and of itself."