Diary

Sarah Palin and "blind" grading

More than 40 years ago I was admitted to a top 20 law school.  I was a blue-eyed blonde who was, still kind of easy on the eyes and not completely unattractive.  I was also one of 18 women in a class of 180 at a law school where we were the largest cohort of women students since World War II.  To put it bluntly, most of the male students, and probably some of the faculty, thought I was dumb.  I had to be dumb, I guess, because I am a woman and, in those days, not bad looking.  The perception became worse when (and I was married) I became pregnant.  A pregnant woman could never be anything but dumb.   Fortunately for me, USC had a system they called blind grading.  In most classes most of your grade was determined by how you performed on the final exam.  And finals were gruelling often lasting 3 hours each.  We were permitted to bring typewriters to escape writer’s cramp and make our answers easier to read.

At the beginning of the final exam a proctor would appear and give each of us a card with a number.  We wrote our names on the cards and handed them back to the proctor and we wrote the numbers on our exam books.  The exams were handed to the professors with only the numbers on them.  The professors had to turn in the exam grades– assigning a grade to each number– in order to learn which student wrote which exam.    Although not required, the final grade assigned was usually within 3 or 4 points (USC grades on a 1-100 system) of the grade on the final exam.

I still think I owe my performance in law school to that practice.  I was third in a class of 180 at the end of my first year.  What with the baby coming and working, my place in my class slipped to 12th by the time I graduated, but that was good enough to earn the Order of the Coif, sort of the Phi Beta Kappa of law school.  Many of my male classmates were really angry that I earned the ORder of the Coif.  They would have liked to be able to honestly put that honor on their resumes.

So what does this have to do with Sarah Palin?  I think if you took her Facebook posts on a series of important issues, many conservatives who seem to have an unveiled contempt for her, would agree with almost all of them.  They would find them succinct and well written policy positions.  In fact, I think if you set forth a set of policy positions excerpted from statements of other candidates and asked people to vote on which they agreed with most, Palin would come out number one.  The visceral dislike of some “conservatives” for Palin is, I suspect, not just that she is a woman but she is a mother of a lot of children, and therefore in their minds,  not serious.  She didn’t go to the right schools and she doesn’t have the right accent.  On top of that, she refuses to play their game by their rules.  Of course, we don’t have blind grading in elections, but I think the electorate may not be so prejudiced as those who think they are their betters are.  We’ll find out soon.