I don't believe he's saying "we still need Affirmative Action". Instead, he's saying "we need better public education".
Nearly two years have passed since that ruling and virtually nothing has been done to make sure that children of color--and other children, too, since the crisis in our educational system cuts across race and class--are receiving a different and better type of schooling, in science and in literacy, than those now coming into our colleges. This is not about Head Start. This is about a wholesale revamping of teaching and learning. The conservatives have their ideas, and many of them are good, such as charter schools and even vouchers. But give me a single liberal idea with some currency, even a structural notion, for transforming the elucidation of knowledge and thinking to the young. You can't.
I believe we conservatives would agree with Peretz in every regard. In fact, he's giving us credit for having the ideas. And attacking liberals, sotto voce, for their slavish obeisance to the teachers' unions and urban 'special interests'.
He's merely saying conservatives have ideas, not that he agrees with them...or he'd have SAID that.
This is the great divide between modern liberals and classical liberals, because, IMO, the current labels of conservative and liberal do not apply here, given the recent fondness of the GOP for large-scale federal educational initiatives. The modern liberal sees this divide as something you can throw laws and money at to change. The classical liberal realizes that most of the problem is cultural - and that just ain't a black problem, it's a big problem with white kids as well (I know, I used to be one). The youth peer culture disparages kids who try to achieve - except for Asians, where the kids do the opposite. And gee golly whiz, guess who is kicking fanny in the educational arena?
So how do you address that issue if you are a modern liberal? Well, you spend more tax dollars and mandate tests to determine ... that Asian kids are still kicking fanny.
Changing attitudes is the hardest thing for a government to do. And with the no-fault mentality of modern liberalism, it becomes impossible to even try, because you are then making a judgement on the relative merits of cultures. And that's a big no-no. Which is something the author didn't even touch upon.