Affirmative Action

French: Affirmative Action Has Failed. It Never Had a Chance to Succeed

This morning the New York Times published an extraordinary, data-rich article examining the outcome of diversity efforts at colleges and universities from coast to coast. The results, quite frankly, are sobering. After decades of affirmative action, billions of dollars invested in finding, mentoring, and recruiting minority students, and extraordinary levels of effort and experimentation, black and Hispanic students are “more underrepresented at the nation’s top colleges and universities than they were 35 years ago” (emphasis added). White and Asian students, on the other hand, remain overrepresented as a percentage of the population, with Asian students most overrepresented of all. On the one hand, these statistics represent a staggering failure. It’s difficult to overstate the modern campus obsession with diversity. To judge from marketing materials, campus investments, and the explosive growth of diversity bureaucracies, increasing minority representation on campus isn’t just a priority on par with, say, a good math, English, or engineering department, it’s deemed to be an indispensable part of a high-quality college education. That’s the legal rationale that’s used to justify racial discrimination in college admissions — that there is a “compelling state interest” in creating a truly diverse educational experience. On the other hand, however, one wonders whether failure was inevitable. Not even the most aggressive of affirmative-action programs can find students who don’t exist. And when it comes to college admissions, the problem isn’t a lack of collegiate demand for qualified minority students but rather a serious deficiency in supply. There are simply not enough students who are ready, willing, and able to do the work. That’s not to say that affirmative action is meaningless or irrelevant. Absent admissions preferences, the number of black and Hispanic students would decrease even further. It does mean, however, that educational disadvantages exist long before the college admissions process, and the college admissions process can’t come close to closing the gap. Here’s the Times: ” Affirmative action increases the numbers of black and Hispanic students at many colleges and universities, but experts say that persistent underrepresentation often stems from equity issues that begin earlier. Elementary and secondary schools with large numbers of black and Hispanic students are less likely to have experienced teachers, advanced courses, high-quality instructional materials and adequate facilities, according to the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.” Wait just a moment. There’s little doubt that these factors matter, but isn’t there a word missing from the Times’ summary of disadvantages? Isn’t it, quite possibly, the most important word? Yes, I’m thinking of “family.” Here’s an interesting fact. The cohort that’s most overrepresented in American colleges and universities, Asian Americans, also happens to have the lowest percentage of nonmarital births in the United States. In fact, the greater the percentage of nonmarital births, the worse the educational outcomes. Only 16.4 percent of Asian and Pacific Islander children are born into nonmarried households. For white, Hispanic, and black Americans the percentages are 29.2, 53, and 70.6, respectively. Taken together, that means that staggering numbers of Hispanic and black children face a degree of family stress and uncertainty that their white and Asian peers simply don’t experience. While it’s of course true that correlation doesn’t always indicate causation, one of the most important realities explored in Robert Putnam’s vital book, Our Kids, is the extent to which childhood stresses can plague kids for the rest of their lives. Family dissolution and family instability place extraordinary pressure on young hearts and minds, and one doubts whether better lab equipment, motivated teachers, or new school buildings can ameliorate the aggregate effects of such profound loss. No one should argue that increased resources make no difference. But to omit the influence of family on educational outcome is to conveniently forget the elephant in the room. Teachers know the importance of family, and they feel its absence. A good friend taught four years in an inner-city elementary school, and she told me that out of 100 kids (25 per year) exactly seven lived with their mom and dad. None lived with married parents. Only a small minority of single moms ever showed up for parent-teacher conferences. How much money will put those kids on equal footing with peers from intact, engaged families? Indeed, there’s abundant evidence that even vast increases in public spending on education hasn’t led to corresponding increases in test scores, and when you understand how education really works, it’s easy to understand why. One of the most common characteristics of high-achieving students is they come from families that prioritize academic success. Yes, there are exceptions. Every college class includes high-achieving kids from single-parent homes, but at scale family involvement is indispensable. But rather than focus on families, our political culture spends 90 percent of its time talking about 10 percent solutions — investing vast sums to move the margins. Part of this rests on fundamentally flawed conceptions of human nature, including the notion that government programs and government spending can replicate the advantages inherent in two-parent families. Think of Barack Obama’s now-famous “Life of Julia” graphic, which chronicled all the ways the Obama administration could elevate Julia and her children, with nary a man in sight. In Jessica Gavora’s memorable phrase, Julia was married to the “Hubby State.” The Hubby State is the sexual revolutionary’s dream — you gain personal autonomy without losing security or opportunity. But part of our unwillingness to talk about families rests in something else — a sense of resignation and despair. After all, what can we do? What’s the four-point plan for building a marriage culture in neighborhoods where kids may grow up without knowing a single person who lives in an intact home? We often don’t like to hear that cultural problems only have cultural or religious solutions because that’s hard, that’s long-term, and that’s out of our control. So, we change what we can change — curriculum, spending levels, admissions policies — and hope for the best. No one should think that if we could wave a magic wand and immediately knit families back together then our nation would cure all its ills. Racism and its legacy still haunts this nation, and a myriad of other factors would lead to different outcomes. But we can say, and we do know, that intact families are greater assets to children than even the most generous taxpayers or the most diligent college admissions committee, and not even the most generous taxpayers or the most diligent admissions committee can fix the inequality that damaged families create.

Well said, David.  Attorney, and Army Reserve officer (Major), David French is responsible for that sobering op/ed.  David was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in Iraq.

Univ.of Texas conservative club’s ‘affirmative action bake sale’ draws scrutiny

The Young Conservatives of Texas club at the University of Texas at Austin sparked outrage Wednesday after hosting an “affirmative action bake sale” and charging people different prices based on their race and sex. The Dallas Morning News reported that a cookie at the sale cost $1.50 for Asian males, $1 for white males and 50 cents for African-American and Hispanic males. Native American men and women were given free cookies. Asian women had to pay $1.25, white women 75 cents and Hispanic and African-American women 25 cents. The club drew heavy scrutiny from a crowd of hundreds, but it insisted that the bake sale was a protest against the “institutionalized racism” of affirmative action programs at colleges and universities. Some in the crowd chanted “racists go home.” “Our protest was designed to highlight the insanity of assigning our lives value based on our race and ethnicity, rather than our talents, work ethic and intelligence,” club chairman Vidal Castañeda said. “It is insane that institutional racism, such as affirmative action, continues to allow for universities to judge me by the color of my skin rather than my actions.” According to the paper, the Young Conservatives of Texas came under fire in 2013 for holding a similar bake sale. The university’s vice president for diversity and community engagement Gregory J. Vincent called that sale “deplorable.” This time, Vincent said this bake sale was “inflammatory and demeaning.”

Oh WAHHH!!  What a bed-wetting, thumb-sucking, liberal blowhard!!  When I read this, I laughed and nodded in agreement.  Kudos to these kids at the U of TX for doing this in spite of the pressure from their liberal fellow students and the intolerant, liberal faculty/administration.  They’re making a great point about affirmative action and how inherently racist it is.  And, either the liberal students and faculty are too dumb to get it, or have been so utterly brainwashed with their own political correctness that they are unwilling to consider another perspective.  Anyway, to read the rest of this clearly liberal hit piece, click on the text above.

Opinion: University Affirmative-Action Admissions Policies Are Toxic

Last week, the Supreme Court began hearing arguments in the latest round of the Fisher vs. University of Texas case over whether race can be used as a criterion in college admissions policies. The defenders of affirmative-action admissions policies have generally been unwilling to discuss the impact these policies have on black students. Indeed, when Justice Antonin Scalia raised the possibility in oral arguments that these policies actually harm black students by placing many of them at schools that are too demanding, he was immediately vilified. “Justice Scalia Suggests Blacks Belong at ‘Slower’ Colleges,” ran a typical headline at Mother Jones. Senate minority leader Harry Reid called Scalia’s line of questioning “racist,” and Georgia Democratic congressman John Lewis said Scalia’s “evident bias was very troubling,” leading him to question Scalia’s “ability to make impartial judgments.” Here is what Scalia actually said: “There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a less — a slower-track school where they do well. One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas.” The brief in question was submitted by UCLA law professor Richard Sander. A one-time proponent of affirmative action, Sander changed his position when he studied its effects on black students at American law schools. Sander found that, because of these schools’ commitment to increasing diversity, the median black student accepted by them placed in the lowest decile of white students admitted — and this translated into low class rankings and low rates of passing the bar exam for these black students. Sander presented evidence that if black students who had attended a top-tier law school had instead attended a lower-tier school, they would have been more likely to pass the bar exam. It’s important to understand that this “mismatch thesis” in no way implies an inability of black students to succeed at top-tier academic institutions, as Scalia’s critics have disingenuously implied. It suggests only that affirmative-action admissions policies disproportionately accept students with lower-than-average test scores and grades. As a result, they are not adequately prepared for the rigors of top-tier universities. This sets these students up for potential failure where they might otherwise have succeeded. Simply put, the mismatch thesis asserts that affirmative action is doing more harm than good for many of the black students admitted as a result of these policies. While recent evidence strongly supports his conclusion, Sander’s brief detailed how the educational arm of the law community has done everything possible to undermine studies of the mismatch thesis. When scholars sought to use the California Bar’s database, the Society of American Law Teachers and deans from California law schools strongly objected. Indeed, the Law School Admissions Council stopped sending LSAT scores to the California Bar in order to assure that any effort to study bar examinees after 2008 would be crippled by incomplete information. Just as at law schools, many selective colleges dramatically lower admissions standards to meet their diversity goals. At Duke, the median SAT score of black students admitted in 2002 was 140 points below that of white students, placing the median black student’s score within the lowest 10 percent of white student scores. In a similar vein, before the Supreme Court forced changes to the University of Michigan’s admissions policy, the school placed little importance on SAT scores in order to provide maximum freedom to assemble the ideal “diverse” student body. As a result, only half of the black students admitted had an SAT score of at least 1000 — while virtually all white students admitted scored at that level. SAT scores are a strong predictor of college performance. At the University of Texas there is a strong positive correlation between SAT scores and freshman academic performance: Low SAT scores translated into a C average while high scores translated into an A- average. At Michigan, for the class of 2003, one-quarter of black students had a C- or lower average and half were on academic probation at some point in their university careers. By contrast, three-quarters of the white students achieved at least a B average. At the Ivy League schools and most selective liberal arts colleges, a study found that only one in eight students with an SAT score below 1200 obtained an A- average while almost half of those with at least a 1300 SAT score did so. The evidence clearly shows, then, that students who enter college with lower SAT scores will on average perform worse there than their peers; weak academic preparation results in weak academic performance. The court was presented another brief — summarized in a New York Times essay by Sheen S. Levine and David Stark, headlined “Diversity Makes You Brighter” — which argued that having a diverse student body improves the learning and performance of white students as well. “Diversity improves the way people think,” Levine and Stark wrote. “By disrupting conformity, racial and ethnic diversity prompts people to scrutinize facts, think more deeply and develop their own opinions. Our findings show that such diversity actually benefits everyone, minorities and majority alike.” These benefits are derived, according to the authors, from the interactions between members of different racial groups. A similar argument was offered a decade ago in support of the University of Michigan’s admissions policies. Unfortunately, current affirmative-action programs have not generated diversity in the classroom. Weakly performing black students are discouraged from majoring in some fields and demanding courses. These students avoid courses in which they fear that they will be expected to give the “black” viewpoint. In addition, studies find that students tend to form the strongest friendships with students who have similar academic preparation and interests. As a result, poor academic performance reduces black and white student interaction. This helps explain the troubling fact reported by Levine and Stark: At the University of Texas there is “zero or just one African-American student in 90 percent of its typical undergraduate classrooms.” When forced to confront this data, affirmative-action proponents point to a study by former Ivy League school presidents William Bowen and Derek Bok, which found that black students were more likely to graduate if they attended more selective schools. But the study seemed unconcerned with measures of performance other than graduation — even though the authors had data that black students earned much lower grades than white students while in school and that class rank had a strong influence on future earnings. In particular, 20 years after graduation, black men who ranked in the top third of their class were found to earn 70 percent more than black men who ranked in the lowest third. Bowen and Bok’s study was based on data from the 1976 and 1989 entering classes. In order to update their work, in the mid-1990s, Stephen Cole and Elinor Barber were selected to assess what could be done to encourage more black students to pursue academic careers. They found that though entering black students were more likely to express interest in a teaching career than white students, their weaker class performance made it less likely they would receive the mentoring and positive reinforcement to continue on that path. Unfortunately, even though Harvard University Press was obligated to publish their findings in 2003, the executive secretary of the Council of Ivy Group Presidents told the Chronicle of Higher Education to discount the findings because of the authors’ ideological biases. Cole and Barber’s findings dovetail with the conclusion of Sander and others that black students at the most selective schools are less likely to complete science majors than comparable students who attended slightly less selective schools, as Scalia alluded to in his line of questioning. Indeed, when the American Economics Association commissioned two economists, one a proponent and one a skeptic, to summarize the evidence on the mismatch theory for their prestigious Journal of Economic Literature, that conclusion was unavoidable. “The evidence suggests that racial preferences are so aggressive that reshuffling some African American students to less-selective schools would improve some outcomes,” wrote authors Peter Arcidiacono and Michael Lovenheim. “The existing evidence indicates that such match effects may be particularly relevant for first-time bar passage and among undergraduates majoring in STEM fields.” The current university affirmative-action admissions policies are favored by a predominantly liberal faculty uncomfortable with the prospect of teaching only privileged white students — but that should not excuse the result that these policies have harmful effects on the very students they purport to help. Current aggressive affirmative-action policies harm the career selection and earnings potential of many black students by placing them in situations for which they are academically unprepared; they also create a toxic campus environment. While ideally diversity can be beneficial to social interaction, the opposite occurs on most selective campuses. Weakly prepared black students gravitate to safe courses, safe majors, and safe social settings and have heightened sensitivity to perceived and real racial slights. And unfortunately, the poor performance of underprepared black students only reinforces the negative stereotypes many white students hold — further increasing tensions on campus.

Exactly!!  This is all just common sense.  Affirmative action has shown itself to be another failed liberal agenda item.  Kudos to professor Robert Cherry who wrote that piece.  Excellent!!    🙂