Friday, December 18, 2015

Minority Students as Victims of Affirmative Action

From Jeff Jacoby:
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION is once again before the Supreme Court. The case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, arose from the usual scenario: A white student applied to the university but was denied admission, while black applicants with weaker academic credentials were admitted because of racial preferences designed to favor minorities.

It’s no mystery why Abigail Fisher, the rejected student in this case, would object to that racial double standard and take her protest all the way to the Supreme Court. What’s less clear is why the University of Texas embraces such a double standard.
Then, further on in the article:
What particularly concerns Heriot and Kirsanow [members of the Civil Rights Commission] is the substantial body of empirical evidence demonstrating that affirmative action hurts the very students it is intended to help. Their brief discusses the problem of “mismatch.” That is the term for what happens when an elite institution relaxes its usual standards to admit more racial minorities, thereby encouraging black students to enter schools where they are apt to be academically weaker than their peers. The result is that students admitted through affirmative action tend to cluster near the bottom of their entering cohort, to have lower grades and higher drop-out rates, and to more frequently abandon rigorous courses or switch to less demanding majors.

For anyone who cares about minority advancement, the toll taken by mismatch is heartbreaking. Only one-third of black students who enter law school, for example, end up graduating and passing the bar exam on the first attempt. Another example: At Duke University, to take another example, 54 percent of black and Hispanic men who started out as science and engineering majors switched to a different field, compared with a mere 8 percent of white male students who did so. A study of underrepresented minority students at 23 universities found that the number who would have successfully earned degrees in science, math, and engineering would have been between 35 and 45 percent higher — if only the students had attended schools where their academic credentials were closer to average.

The Civil Rights Commission has reported on the troubling “mismatch” phenomenon in several recent studies. An important 2012 book by legal scholars Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor Jr. delved into the issue in sober detail. There is little doubt that racial preferences have backfired, leaving the nation with fewer black doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers, and professors than would otherwise be the case. There was some politically-correct hyperventilating when Justice Antonin Scalia asked about this research during the Fisher oral argument this month.

But there is nothing outrageous in taking a hard look at mismatch, or in seriously confronting the harm it has caused. Racial preferences have held back far too many minority students. The sooner those preferences are scrapped, the more success black students will achieve.
For a more detailed review of the evidence, which clearly supports Jacoby, check this article in the Wall Street Journal.

Affirmative action is not, in fact, about “diversity,” it’s about political correctness. A genuine diversity agenda would require recruiting conservatives and libertarians for faculty positions in most departments in most universities. It might require giving preference to students from poor and working class backgrounds. It would involve giving preference to foreign students coming from cultures quite different from that of the average American kid (and this includes the average black American kid).

Affirmative action, in other words, is not a genuine diversity policy. It’s just a racial spoils system.

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