The movement to more aggressively change admissions standards and affirmative action strikes at the very heart of what France is and will be. We in the United States, despite our seemingly endless racial issues and divides, are far more used to the pulls and pushes of the new global economy. Sure, we are all scared of losing what we thought we had in some lost golden time we remember, but we do have 50 plus years of addressing hidden inequities. That's not to say that we have solved them, by any stretch of the imagination, but we have tried numerous approaches and most of us know as Americans that our history has and likely always will be in a diverse population.
At the same time, this evolution is fraught with with the same pulls of meritocracy versus affirmative action, "standards" versus opportunity. And this is felt the most strongly at the Grandes Ecoles in France, where accepted students are almost guaranteed a life of success, even more so than one would expect from a degree from Harvard or Yale. For years, students at these schools were social and economic class-selected because entrance exams were not only intentionally culturally biased, but because some kids just didn't get the early education that would allow them to even be considered.