Tag Archives: Class

Can Biden's foreign policy really deliver for the middle class?

White House and Biden administration officials say the president’s first foreign trip was about establishing credibility with partners: laying the groundwork for plans on everything from trade to tax rates that will eventually deliver for America’s middle class and its counterparts in other democracies.

It’s a set of hopes that rest on handshake diplomacy and international agreements with disparate foreign governments, which are supposed to eventually deliver gains to the middle class.

“The intentions are clearer at this moment than the outcome,” said Ashley Tellis, co-author of a 2020 paper with Jake Sullivan — now Biden’s national security advisor — on how to apply foreign and trade policy for the benefit of the U.S. middle class.

Sullivan, in a call with reporters Thursday, pushed back on that observation. “This was an unusually productive substantive set of summits with real, tangible outcomes,” Sullivan said. He pointed to the U.S. commitment of half a billion Pfizer vaccines to the 100 lowest-income countries, which he said helped to galvanize vaccine commitments from the other G-7 members. With Biden mandating American production of those doses, the plan also serves as a minor boost for domestic manufacturing.

But other middle-class benefits from the week of global summitry are less direct.

Perhaps the most tangible policy outcome from Biden’s first venture overseas as president was the G-7 agreement on a 15 percent global corporate minimum tax. The administration has been quick to trumpet the commitment from fellow nations, but it’s unclear just what benefit that will have for U.S. jobs or American wages — compared to, say, a $ 15 minimum wage — or if it will even come to pass.

Biden’s ancestral home, Ireland, is the most vocal opponent of the proposed 15 percent corporate minimum tax rate, and it may take the president’s personal intervention to shift their position. Even if Biden succeeds, the new tax will come into effect in 2023 at the earliest.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday that she is determined to hold the line as negotiations continue among more than 130 countries. “We would not agree to any type of carve-out that would meaningfully weaken a global minimum tax regime — not from China and not from other countries,” she said.

Even Biden’s domestic political allies aren’t convinced the agreement goes far enough. While labor unions welcomed the 15 percent tax rate announcement, Cathy Feingold, who runs the AFL-CIO’s international department, said it was too low to fund the programs needed to overcome Covid-induced inequalities. “A 15 percent rate could raise $ 150 billion globally each year. But with a 20 percent rate you raise $ 300 billion annually, and with a 25 percent rate it’s $ 580 billion,” she said.

Though American businesses might soon face stricter tax rules, the administration is keen to note that they will benefit from new market opportunities. The White House says there’s a $ 40 trillion market for new infrastructure in the developing world, one that China currently dominates. Bidens’ Build Back Better World plan, agreed to with G-7 leaders, is designed to complement domestic infrastructure ambitions by creating, as the plan notes, “new opportunities to demonstrate U.S. competitiveness abroad and create jobs at home.”

The administration wants to fund and build infrastructure to high, green standards around the world — betting rich democracies can do that better than Chinese competitors. But even if the administration meets their goal of mobilizing “hundreds of billions of dollars” for these projects, that’s only a fraction of expected domestic infrastructure spending, and not all of those jobs will go to Americans: the benefit for domestic workers will be marginal.

In some cases, the Biden approach abroad thus far has been simply to keep Trump policies in place, as with tariffs levied — under the guise of national security — on European steel and aluminium.

The steel tariffs are popular in swing states and among affected workers, though there’s scant evidence that they’ve majorly impacted domestic production and sales. The American steel industry has added several thousand jobs since the tariffs were put in place in 2018: a modest increase but a mere blip among the 160 million-strong national labor force.

One area where Biden’s foreign policy could have a more direct impact on the U.S. middle class is on trade. In a speech to labor unions on the eve of Biden’s overseas trip, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai evangelized about ending a global “race to the bottom” — which for 40 years led nations to compete to limit wages and regulations to attract corporate investment.

Sullivan said Friday that an agreement to end a 16-year dispute between Airbus and Boeing is a win for workers on both sides of the Atlantic, and a sign that the race is ending.

“The U.S. and the EU will be working together to protect jobs and protect technology in Europe in the United States” by turning their collective political power “against China’s predatory practices,” instead of each other, Sullivan said. “In the end it will help secure and grow jobs in our own aviation industry by relaxing the tariffs and by protecting against predatory competition from China,” he said.

Boeing supports around 10,000 American businesses in its supply chain, and directly employs over 140,000 American workers. Unions have been pushing Boeing, Congress and the administration to limit job cuts planned by the company, and expressed support for USTR shifting attention to Chinese business practices.

But if the Airbus-Boeing dispute is anything to go by, it could be a decade or more before China amends what Tai labeled its “nonmarket practices.” And as airlines work to recoup pandemic losses, it’s unlikely that lower sticker prices for large aircraft will trickle down to the average American’s flight home for Thanksgiving.

More broadly, the administration’s confrontation of China economically remains a long-term project and not something that the president could tidy up in his first trip.

As that long-term project takes place, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is taking an expansive approach to the middle class challenge. Speaking in March, Blinken said he would use “every tool to stop countries from stealing our intellectual property or manipulating their currencies to get an unfair advantage. We will fight corruption, which stacks the deck against us.”

For the Biden administration, everything from anti-corruption networks to vaccine donations is branded as a boost to the middle class. And while international summits at 5-star resorts and 18th century European villas may seem far removed from the pocket book concerns of working families, the administration sees them as staging posts in a steady policy approach.

“Europe is the most promising place to test run a foreign policy for the middle class,” said former Ambassador Dan Baer, the Obama administration’s envoy to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Security in Europe.

“If you’re going to think about how to negotiate a next wave of globalization, it makes sense to start with negotiations with other democratic governments who have a commitment to the social welfare of their citizens. That means not just Youngstown or Bakersfield but also Stuttgart and Marseilles.” Baer said.

Author: Ryan Heath and Christopher Cadelago
This post originally appeared on Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories

70-year-old getting PhD threatened with eviction after enrolling in online class

THE WOODLANDS, Texas (KTRK) — Betty Harper met an ABC13 crew at her front door on Wednesday in a walker, still recovering from back surgery she had last fall accompanied by a stroke she said she suffered earlier in the year.

The 70-year-old is refusing to let any of that slow her down, saying she’s just one class away from earning her PhD.

“You can do anything you put your mind to doing,” said Harper. “I always wanted my doctorate, and I had to wait until my children graduated from college and my grandchildren so I could help them.”

Finally, it was her turn. The retired special education teacher said she wanted to keep her mind active.

Five years ago, she enrolled in an online program through Northcentral University working towards her goal slowly, but diligently.

“I am on the Dean’s List,” said Harper with a sense of pride.

Now, months before she is set to graduate, instead of celebrating a major milestone, she’s worried about her housing. She told Eyewitness News she received a call from an employee at her apartment complex in The Woodlands area called Fawn Ridge Apartments.

“[They] called me and stated to me I had 30 days to move,” said Harper.

The grandmother said a worker told her because she was a full-time student, she no longer qualified for her HUD housing assistance.

“And I said to her, ‘I am only taking one class. How can that be full time? I am only a part-time student,'” recalled Harper.

ABC13 tried to speak with employees at Fawn Ridge Apartments to clear up what appears to be a misunderstanding, but they refused to comment.

We also contacted the property management company, Envolve LLC, which is based in Alabama, but have not heard back.

A legal expert said HUD housing does not allow for an entire unit to be occupied by full-time students. The restriction was put in place to avoid dormitory housing and doesn’t appear to apply to this great-grandmother.

“If I was evicted at this point, I have no funds to move,” said Harper.

ABC13 will continue seeking answers for the future Dr. Betty Harper.

Follow Shelley Childers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Author: Shelley Childers

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

Her High School Said She Ranked Third in Her Class. So She Went to Court.

It is not entirely unheard-of for disputes over top spots in high school graduating classes to escalate to litigation. The competition over such accolades can be an intense, even ruthless, zero-sum game. And in the fight to be valedictorian, there is more at stake than just bragging rights. In Texas, the highest-ranking high school graduates can receive free tuition for their first year at in-state public institutions.

Ms. Sullivan and her parents were inspired by a case last year in Pecos, Texas, about 100 miles from Alpine, where two students claimed to be valedictorian amid confusion over a “glitch” in the school’s tabulations. One of the students — with professional legal representation — filed for a restraining order and sought an injunction to block Pecos High School from naming its valedictorian.

After Ms. Sullivan could not get a lawyer, her parents were disappointed but willing to drop the matter. But she refused. She got advice and records from the family in the case in Pecos, using the petition in that case as a guide to start writing her own. Her parents — her father, a rancher; her mother, a forensic interviewer — read it over and helped her tidy up the language.

“We aren’t even close to being lawyers,” Ms. Sullivan said.

In Alpine, a town of roughly 6,000 people in Texas’s Big Bend Country, some who know Ms. Sullivan said they were surprised she would take this on. There are other ways to spend one’s last summer before college. (She plans to attend the College of Charleston in South Carolina and major in biophysics with the aim of going into medicine.) But she had always been serious about school and a bit steely in her resolve.

“She’s already going to college, she already has scholarships,” said Teresa Todd, a local government lawyer who is a longtime friend of Ms. Sullivan’s mother and whose sons are close in age to Ms. Sullivan. “She worked really hard for this, and I think all kids deserve to know where they fall in the pecking order.”

“Kids have to show their work,” Ms. Todd added. “Why doesn’t the school have to show their work?”

She said she offered some advice to Ms. Sullivan ahead of her hearing: “Be herself. Be respectful. Don’t let the other side get you off your game.”

Author: Rick Rojas
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

WATCH: UT-Austin celebrates Class of 2021 at commencement ceremony

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As University of Texas at Austin students are set to celebrate Saturday’s Class of 2021 commencement, some are planning to walk out to send a message about the school’s controversial anthem “The Eyes of Texas.”

A Facebook event organized by two UT students, “Eyes of Texas Walk Out: Commencement 2021”, is planned to happen near the end of Saturday night’s ceremony at Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium, where the song will be played.

Author: Andrew Schnitker
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Texas families warn of possible bed-in-the-box mattress risks; class action lawsuit filed

Texas families warn of possible bed-in-the-box mattress risks

AUSTIN (KXAN) – A new class action lawsuit filed against a mattress company is pushing for changes across the industry.

Attorney Lloyd Cueto, with Cueto Law from near St. Louis and lawyers with the Environmental Litigation Group from Birmingham refiled an amended version of the lawsuit in April against mattress manufacturer Zinus.

The mattresses are sold online and at big box retail stores.

“It really is dangerous, not only the property damage to people, but the health issues,” Cueto explained. “We have over 200 plaintiffs in all 50 states and people are realizing they’re not alone on this.”

He explained that families have had trouble breathing, skin irritation and were forced to toss belongings after removing the cover to wash it.

Cases across Texas

Cueto Law said clients have had itchy/irritated skin and trouble breathing (Courtesy Cueto Law)

Cueto said close to 30 of cases included in the lawsuit are from across Texas.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) explained to KXAN investigator Arezow Doost that fiberglass is used in a variety of products generally for adding strength and fire-resistance.

Cueto said the problem is that Zinus has a removable outer cover with a zipper.

“The very existence of a zipper invites the owner to unzip it, or certainly makes you think that it’s safe to do so,” explained Cueto. “And there’s not nearly appropriate enough warning about the exposure to the glass fibers once you open it.”

‘Leave the cover on’

A statement from Zinus explained the company provides quality products and takes all customer feedback very seriously.

“The material that we use to comply with fire safety regulations is standard in the mattress industry, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission has found that this material is not considered hazardous,” continued the statement.

A spokesperson did not respond to questions about whether the company would remove the zipper or stop using fiberglass.

“All Zinus product owners should refer to the FAQ page on our company website, which addresses many common questions, including proper care and handling of mattress covers,” said the statement.

The frequently asked questions page explained, “The mattress cover isn’t washable, and removing it could inhibit the fire safety barrier, so please always leave the cover on.”

Industry wide problem

“They need to pull these mattresses as they exist off the market now. And we don’t believe that they should have to wait until they’re forced by some kind of federal recall,” explained Cueto.

He said the lawsuit will also mean compensation for the families impacted. Cueto explained that on average the families have spent $ 15,000 to remove all the fiberglass.

He said that this is an industry wide problem and he’s now looking at other manufacturers.

Michelle Cantrell spent thousands of dollars removing all the fiberglass in her home.

Michelle Cantrell said a professional cleaning crew was called to remove fiberglass in her home (Courtesy Michelle Cantrell)

“It was literally like dust settles everywhere, it was exactly like that, only it was glass,” explained Cantrell.

The family from Round Rock shared a warning about their daughter’s memory foam mattress right before the pandemic last year.

They said they bought their mattress from a different company online which ended up reimbursing them, but they explained their home was covered with what looked like glitter.

After some research, Cantrell said it turned out to be fiberglass. They had unzipped the cover to wash it and noticed a tear. Several days later she said they were feeling itchy and coughing.

“There was no warning label anywhere near the zipper or the cover or anything,” explained Cantrell.

What’s being done federally?

Doost asked CPSC why there hasn’t been a recall. A spokesperson with the agency responded with the exact same statement as last year.

“CPSC has mandatory requirements for mattresses and mattress pads. The regulations are performance standards, not design standards. So they do not specify the use of specific materials or individual components,” said Nychelle Fleming, Public Affairs Specialist with the agency.

She added: “It is recommended to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for washing and drying of any textile product, including mattress pads. Many textile products shed fibers through normal wear and refurbishment.  It would be difficult to determine the type of fiber without scientific analysis.”

Fleming said concerns should be reported to www.SaferProducts.gov, but it’s unclear what those reports do since hundreds have already been made online. She said, however, that the company looks at all complaints made online.

Author: Arezow Doost
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

2021 Basketball Hall of Fame: Bosh, Webber, Wright among new class

Chris Bosh’s playing career ended years before he planned. Jay Wright was in trouble three years into a tenure at Villanova. Chris Webber was a finalist for years.

Jay Wright was in trouble three years into his tenure at Villanova, with speculation swirling that he would be fired. Chris Bosh’s playing career ended years before he planned. Chris Webber had been a finalist for years, only to be let down time and time again.
Turns out, basketball’s highest honor awaited them all.
Bosh, Webber and Wright were among the names announced Sunday as this year’s Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement class, a group that also includes Paul Pierce and WNBA stars Yolanda Griffith and Lauren Jackson.
Webber had been a finalist in each of the last five years before finally breaking through and getting the selection. Bosh and Pierce were among those who made it in their first year of eligibility.
“Jay is one of the best coaches I’ve ever had, and one of the best people I’ve ever known,” said former Villanova guard Kyle Lowry, now with the Toronto Raptors, after he got the word Sunday about Wright’s selection. “He treated me like a son, and he helped me become the man I am today. He is truly a special person.”
Speaking of coaches, the NBA also announced that the ninth-winningest coach in NBA history Rick Adelman is also part of the 2021 Hall of Fame class. 
The class even has someone who has been a Hall of Famer for 46 years already: The 11-time NBA champion Bill Russell, enshrined in 1975 as a player, has been selected again as a coach. Russell becomes the fifth Hall of Famer who’ll be inducted as both a player and a coach, joining John Wooden, Lenny Wilkens, Bill Sharman and Tommy Heinsohn.
Toni Kukoc was selected by the Hall of Fame’s international committee, and Pearl Moore — a 4,000-point scorer in college, most of them coming at Francis Marion — was among those selected for induction as well.

This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Sports

Fall of Red Wall! Nigel Farage says he knew Labour had betrayed working class back in 2006

The then-UKIP candidate finished third in the Bromley and Chiselhurst poll, pushing Labour into fourth place for only the second time previously in a by-election since 1945. Mr Farage revealed that during canvassing in poorer areas of the constituency he was “stunned” by how many voters were “turned off” by Labour.
Writing in the Telegraph, he said: “The removal of another brick from the Red Wall last week in Hartlepool by Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party is dismal news for Labour.

“I say this because I find it hard to believe that this result will be reversed any time soon.

“These Labour voters will not go back in a hurry.

“While it is true that millions of Conservative voters switched to UKIP over the years, they usually lent us their votes for the European elections and then returned to the fold at the time of a general election.

READ MORE: Sturgeon on collision course with independence allies over NATO

Mr Farage’s analysis was echoed by many, including polling expert Sir John Curtice – who said the party’s silence over Brexit turned off many voters.

Sir John also insisted that the Labour Party’s post-Brexit strategy had failed as he slammed its choice of candidate in the Hartlepool by-election.

Speaking on the Today Programme, Sir John said choosing Paul Williams, a pro-Remain doctor, did not hold well with Hartlepool voters.

And hoping that once-loyal voters would simply return to the party now that Brexit was over was wrong, he said.

The polling expert remarked that this proved not to be the case for many voters.

Sir John said: “What is clear and frankly has been clear from the opinion polls throughout the last 12 months is that there is absolutely no sign at all of Labour making ground back against leave voters that they lost in 2019.

“Even when Labour was running at 40 percent in the polls last summer, yes their vote had gone up to a degree amongst leave voters but it went up by just as much amongst remain voters.

“In a sense, I think the challenge that we are seeing both in this by-election and in the local election is that Labour’s strategy for the last 12 months on Brexit has been to keep schtum in the hope that voters will move on.

“The truth is voters have not moved on and simply keeping schtum isn’t enough.”

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

Joe Biden to rely on ‘world class’ Royal Navy as UK capacity hailed ‘better than France’

Last week, two Royal Navy ships – HMS Severn and HMS Tamar – were deployed to Jersey following a protest by roughly 60 French fishermen over post-Brexit rights in the waters surrounding the Crown dependency. It came after France threatened to cut off electricity to Jersey and saw Paris send two of its own vessels to the area “in a spirit of responsibility”. It sparked some concerns that the situation could escalate and led to comparisons between the British and French Navy.
But former Army officer Mr Drummond told Express.co.uk there was no comparison between the two, stating “our capabilities are better than the French”.

He explained: “Our submarine force is modern and extremely capable, even more so when we get the new Dreadnought nuclear submarines.

“We’ve got two aircraft carriers, not one like they are going for – they don’t have the footprint that we have.

“Our frigates set the bar very high – the Type 45 destroyer is a wold class ship.

“We have got mass in our fleet, that they don’t have and of course the Royal Marines who are incredibly capable.

“The Royal Navy is ahead of the French Navy, it’s not bad, we just have a better navy being an island nation.”

Mr Drummond believed his view is reciprocated across the Atlantic, stating that the US President “would almost certainly” believe “our navy is superior to the French”.

He noted how US Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters flew over 5,000 miles last week for an upcoming deployment aboard the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The fighter jets flew from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona to RAF Lakenheath for final training before next month’s deployment.

READ MORE: Biden pushed for UK deal amid Xi and Putin threats: ‘Created Concorde and cracked Enigma’

It has eight RAF and 10 US Marine Corps F-35Bs on board and will be accompanied to Asia by six Royal Navy ships, a submarine, 14 naval helicopters and a company of Royal Marines.

Earlier, other members of the strike group, destroyers HMS Defender and HMS Diamond, also left the naval base in Hampshire.

They will be joined by US destroyer USS The Sullivans and the Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen while carrying out visits to India, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.

And Mr Drummond believes it will mark the start of blossoming ties with Washington.

He added: “By us having a carrier strike group we relieve some of the pressure off the Americans in the Middle East and North Atlantic.

“They want theirs to be focused on Asia, so it’s a huge capability we’ve added to support them.”

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: World Feed

Georgetown ISD family considers other districts after daughter's 'disturbing' class assignment on slavery

Author Jennifer Sanders
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — It was a call Martine and Amos Keith never thought they would get from their fifth-grade daughter about a class assignment.

She’s a student at Carver Elementary School in the Georgetown Independent School District, and during one of her remote-learning courses she received this assignment: “Record a speech from the viewpoint of a Southerner explaining why slavery is necessary.”

Picture of a computer screen showing the Georgetown ISD assignment, which reads, "Record a speech from the viewpoint of a Southerner explaining why slavery is necessary." (Courtesy: Martine Keith)
Picture of a computer screen showing the Georgetown ISD assignment, which reads, “Record a speech from the viewpoint of a Southerner explaining why slavery is necessary.” (Courtesy: Martine Keith)

“When I pulled out the assignment, I couldn’t believe my eyes, what I was reading, it was very disturbing, especially in the time we are in now,” said her mom, Martine.

The Keiths said the teacher told them their daughter had a choice whether to do the assignment, and she (the teacher) was just teaching the lessons provided by the district.

The next day, the Keiths pulled their daughter out of that class.

“I was informed that this particular bonus assignment has been removed from the curriculum, but how long has it been going on?” asked Martine. 

After KXAN asked several questions about the assignment and its origin, Georgetown ISD sent the following statement.

“Georgetown ISD is aware of this and deeply regrets the pain this may have caused for students and their families as a result. This is not reflective of Georgetown ISD or our beliefs.

We believe in equity for all learners, which includes developing and nurturing a true sense of empowerment and belonging for every learner no matter their race, gender, ethnicity, language, ability, family income, sexual orientation or any other social factor. We realize that questions like the one posted can be setbacks in making meaningful progress in that area.

We have taken measures to ensure the lesson is no longer available and will continue to engage our staff, our parents and our community in our work to ensure equity for all learners. Curriculum resources have been updated.”
-Georgetown ISD Office of Communications & Community Engagement

A spokesperson for the district also said the assignment has not been in circulation and has not been used otherwise. The spokesperson said it is her understanding that it was part of an older curriculum draft that was never used and simply overlooked in our files.

The spokesperson added the Civil War is a sensitive topic — in and out of school. Georgetown ISD said it is continuing to do work around equity and professional learning, including how to teach sensitive topics in ways that honor Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) while being inclusive and thoughtful to students.

The Keiths want accountability and assurance other students aren’t impacted by this. In the below handwritten letter, their daughter explained people have suffered from slavery, and she wants to make an impact in a world where people aren’t judged by their skin color.

Letter from Martine Keith's daughter explaining how the Georgetown ISD assignment made her feel (Courtesy: Martine Keith)
Letter from Martine Keith’s daughter explaining how the Georgetown ISD assignment made her feel (Courtesy: Martine Keith)

“We always taught her to stand up, if you know something is right or wrong, let us know, and she knew that this was wrong,” Martine said. “We were hoping both of our children would be able to graduate from Eastview High School [in Georgetown ISD], but that’s not the case anymore, so we are looking for another district.”

Elite Universities Welcome More Diverse Freshman Class

Jianna Curbelo attends a career-focused public high school in New York City, works at McDonald’s and lives in the Bronx with her unemployed mother, who did not graduate from college.

So when her high-school counselor and her Ph.D.-educated aunt urged her to apply to Cornell, on her path to becoming a veterinarian, she had her doubts. But she also had her hopes.

“It was one of those, ‘I’ll give it a shot, boost my ego a little bit,’” she said, laughing infectiously, of her decision to apply.

Then she got the unexpected news: She was accepted. She figured she was helped by the fact that Cornell, like hundreds of other universities, had suspended its standardized test score requirement for admission during the coronavirus pandemic. She also said she believed that protests kindled by the death of George Floyd had caught the attention of admissions officers, inspiring some to draft essay questions aimed at eliciting students’ thoughts on racial justice and the value of diversity.

“Those protests really did inspire me,” she said. “It made it seem like the times were sort of changing, in a way.”

Whether college admissions have changed for the long haul remains unclear. But early data suggests that many elite universities have admitted a higher proportion of traditionally underrepresented students this year — Black, Hispanic and those who were from lower-income communities or were the first generation in their families to go to college, or some combination — than ever before.

The gains seem to reflect a moment of national racial and social awareness not seen since the late 1960s that motivated universities to put a premium on diversity and that prodded students to expand their horizons on possible college experiences.

“I would say the likelihood is that the movement that arose in the wake of George Floyd’s murder has exerted some influence on these institutions’ admissions officers,” said Jerome Karabel, a sociologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and a historian of college admission.

“But I think an equally important factor may be the effect of the pandemic on the applicant pool — they had a much broader range of low-income and minority applicants to choose from.”

Consider Jaylen Cocklin, 18, of Columbia, S.C., the son of a retired police officer and a state worker. Jaylen, whose two older brothers attend historically Black institutions, decided in middle school that he wanted to go to Harvard, but the events of the past year were a part of his thinking as he weighed his opportunities.

“It was just another thing driving me to go to Harvard and prove everyone wrong, and defy the common stereotype placed upon so many African-American males today,” he said.

He also suspected that Harvard might be thinking it had some duty to young men like him “because of the social outcry.” And, now he says, it appears that he was right.

He finds himself deciding among Harvard, Emory, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, Wake Forest, Davidson and Georgetown.

The growth in minority admissions at top schools, both private universities and state flagships, has been driven in part by an overall explosion in applications there. Although the total number of students applying to college this year increased only slightly (though slightly more for Black, Hispanic and Asian students than white ones), the number of applications to top schools increased drastically across the board — by 43 percent to Harvard and 66 percent to M.I.T., for example.

At the University of California, Los Angeles, freshman applications rose by 28 percent, and even more for racial minorities — by 48 percent for African-Americans, by 33 percent for Hispanic students and by 16 percent for American Indian students.

The easing of the reliance on standardized tests, which critics say often work to the advantage of more educated and affluent families who can afford tutors and test prep, was most likely the most important factor in encouraging minority applicants.

Only 46 percent of applications this year came from students who reported a test score, down from 77 percent last year, according to Common App, the not-for-profit organization that offers the application used by more than 900 schools. First-generation, lower-income, as well as Black, Hispanic and Native American students were much less likely than others to submit their test scores on college applications.

Schools had been dropping the testing requirement for years, but during the pandemic a wave of 650 schools joined in. In most cases, a student with good scores could still submit them and have them considered; a student who had good grades and recommendations but fell short on test scores could leave them out.

Most schools have announced that they will continue the test-optional experiment next year, as the normal rhythm of the school year is still roiled by the pandemic. It is unclear whether the shift foretells a permanent change in how students are selected.

Gabriella Codrington, 17, a Black student at Bard, a selective public high school in New York City, submitted her SAT score only to her “safety” schools, like the University of Delaware and Temple University, where she thought it would help her application. She withheld it from more selective schools like Harvard, Michigan, Stanford and N.Y.U., emphasizing her grades and resilience in the face of cancer, now in remission. “It definitely gave me a bit more relief,” she said of the test-optional policy.

Neither her father, a doorman, nor her mother, a sales associate, went to college. She has been admitted to N.Y.U.

Jaylen Cocklin’s family (his father went to a historically Black college and his mother to a Christian one) encouraged him to aim high.

He “just grinded” for the SAT, he said, using a free online program, books and lessons on YouTube, and drove 45 miles because of the pandemic to take the first of two SAT tests. His score was high enough that he felt it would help him stand out at top schools, so he submitted it.

In his application essay, he wrote about the “struggle to be who I was” at A.C. Flora High School, in suburban Columbia, S.C. “I’ve been quite stereotyped by being African-American, the common stereotypes — thuggish, hoodish, looking down on what African-Americans can do,” he said.

But he also had to deal with being stereotyped as “whitewashed.” He wrote about his efforts to find a balance.

As students like Jaylen and Gabriella told their stories, admissions officers listened.

“You could tell the story of America through the eyes of all these young people, and how they dealt with the times, Black Lives Matter, the wave of unemployment and the uncertainties of the political moment, wanting to make a difference,” said MJ Knoll-Finn, senior vice president for enrollment management at New York University.

At N.Y.U., this year’s admitted class is about 29 percent Black or Hispanic students, up from 27 percent last year, and 20 percent first-generation students, up from 15 percent.

At Harvard, the proportion of admitted students who are Black jumped to 18 percent from 14.8 percent last year. If all of them enrolled, there would be about 63 more Black students in this year’s freshman class than if they were admitted at last year’s rate. Asian-Americans saw the second biggest increase, to 27.2 percent from 24.5 percent, which could be meaningful if a lawsuit accusing Harvard of systematically discriminating against Asian-Americans is taken up by the Supreme Court.

The percentage of Black students offered a spot at the University of Southern California rose to 8.5 percent from 6 percent, and Latino students to 18 percent from 15 percent.

Stu Schmill, dean of admissions at M.I.T., said the school did not release the breakdown of the admitted class because it was not the final enrolling class. “But I can tell you that there is a higher percentage of students of color this year than last,” he said.

A number of schools did not report admissions figures by race, instead reporting nonwhite “students of color” (including Asians) as a group, which generally showed an increase.

Once students actually accept an offer of admission and enroll, the diversity tally may look different, reflecting the difference between students admitted and where those students choose to enroll.

Some admissions experts worry that making standardized tests, like the SAT, optional will make it more difficult to select top students, especially at a time of widespread grade inflation. But when tests were required, “students were taking themselves out of the running,” said Cassie Magesis, director of post-secondary access for the Urban Assembly, a network of small schools that includes the one that Jianna Curbelo attends.

Admissions directors said that in the absence of test scores, they drilled deeper into not only high school grades, but also the rigor of courses taken in high school as well as personal essays and recommendations from teachers and guidance counselors.

Some hired a small army of application readers, like N.Y.U., which added 50 new readers, more than doubling its regular reading staff.

Even some admissions directors who think that standardized tests have been misused have mixed feelings about eliminating them altogether

“In some ways, I would say good riddance to the SAT,” said Joy St. John, dean of admission and financial aid at Wellesley College. “It feels like we just can’t stop gaslighting disadvantaged students.”

Still, she said testing could identify students who rose above their environment, or who excelled in certain subjects, like math and science. “There are aspects I will miss if we don’t have it,” she said. As imperfect as the process is, the admissions directors said they welcomed students taking a chance on challenging schools.

Ms. Knoll-Finn of N.Y.U. said. “Why not reach for the stars and see what you can get?”

Stephanie Saul contributed reporting. Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.

Anemona Hartocollis

This article originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News