Saturday, April 12, 2003

Affirmative Action?
I have been trying to stay away from this topic, at least until after the Supreme Court issues its ruling in the Michigan cases. But I got to thinking a bit today and a couple of things stuck out and seemed worthy of comment. First, let us look at affirmative action as educational policy. It has been in place for over thirty years, yet is claimed by its proponents to remain necessary. The promise of AA was to address past racial disparities in higher education. It was supposed to bring about change not only in higher education, but in society in terms of educational achievement. Yet, thirty years later disparity still exists- blacks attend and graduate college at lower rates than their white counterparts and the same is true for graduate and professional schools. And still, there are those who think what we need is more AA. One would think that after thirty years of failure it might be time for a re-thinking of this strategy. For example, a focus on the inequities of the K-12 educational system might be in order. By equalizing educational opportunity at a younger age we could virtually eliminate the problem of an unlevel playing field for university admissions.
My other point is in terms of law school admissions, a subject near and dear to my heart at this moment. I find it a bit curious that elite law schools like Michigan truly believe that some individuals need special help in the admissions process. The vast majority of applicants to schools like U of M come from the most elite public and private colleges and universities in the nation. They apply after four years of what is supposed to be the best education available. Yet proponents of AA insist that minorities deserve special consideration. This is an argument whose bottom line is this- minority graduates of Harvard University cannot compete on an equal footing with non-minority graduates of Harvard University (or whatever elite college you chose) for a spot at U of M law. If this is indeed the truth, then what does that say about the quality of American colleges and universities? What does it say about the efficacy of AA? If one accepts the rationale for AA in law school or med school admissions then one must also logically accept that AA in undergraduate education has been an abysmal failure.
It is especially troubling to read comments from minority students at U of M Law in support of affirmative action because what they are really saying is that they don't see themselves as able to compete with their white colleagues. And if that is not a racist, plantation mindset, then I don't know what is.


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