Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Affirmative Inaction
So the SCOTUS has spoke and found that the University of Michigan's affirmative action policies at its law school are constitutional, but that its undergraduate policy was not acceptable. And the comments from both supporters and detractors were predictable and instant. Let us look not at AA itself, but rather at the sorry state of American education. The University's data show that African Americans admitted to the law school had quantitative factors (GPA, LSAT) that were signinifcantly lower than white admittees. The data further shows that minority applicants (with the notable exception of Asians) have a much higher chance of gaining admission than their non-minority counterparts. Let us be clear that the University is not using race as a determining factor between two equally qualified individuals. In fact, it is diminshing the role of quantitative factors and substituting race for "merit".
The Court's decision yesterday will allow this practice to continue and will allow white liberals to feel good about themselves. Unfortunately it does NOTHING to address the gap in educational achievement between minority and non-minority students. We have had three decades of affirmative action and yet the average African American scores lower on standardized tests and posts a lower GPA than her white counterparts. Affirmative action is but a BandAid. The real problem with education is the broad inequity at the K-12 level.
What is especially galling is that so many liberals want to leave this alone. They would rather mouth platitudes than dig in and reform education. Maybe this is the laziness and short attention span of Americans or maybe it is the Left's unwillingness to confront entrenched interests in the K-12 educational system.
But as long as we continue to allow huge inequities in elementary and secondary education we will never bridge the gap between white and non-white student achievement. The goal of our public policy in this area should be a day when affirmative action is no longer needed, when blacks and whites have similar educational outcomes. Instead we have a self propagating system of race based admissions for which we are ALL the worse off.


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