Affirmative Action Policies Harm Those They’re Intended To Help
In the Wall Street Journal today UCLA law professor Richard Sander and journalist Stuart Taylor write a column based on the subject of their new book, Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It.
They point out that the underlying facts about affirmative action policies demonstrate that they’re hurting, rather than helping, those they target.
At selective schools, more than 80% of blacks, and two-thirds of Hispanics, have received at least moderately large admissions preferences, according to our analysis of admissions data from several dozen selective schools—that is the equivalent of at least a 100-point SAT boost, and often much more. …
There is now increasing evidence that students who receive large preferences of any kind—whether based on race, athletic ability, alumni connections or other considerations—experience some clear negative effects: Students end up with poor grades (usually in the bottom fifth of their class), lower graduation rates, extremely high attrition rates from science and engineering majors, substantial self-segregation on campus, lower self-esteem and far greater difficulty passing licensing tests (such as bar exams for lawyers).
But not only do they demonstrate that racial preferences hurt minorities, they also demonstrate that race-neutral policies actually benefit minorities:
Consider the University of California system, which since 1998 has been legally precluded (by Proposition 209) from considering race in admissions. Throughout the past 15 years—most recently in a brief submitted to the Supreme Court—university officials have denounced race neutrality and pointed to the substantial drop in freshman black and Hispanic students at the system’s two flagship schools, Berkeley and UCLA.
Yet race-neutrality has produced stunning benefits for minorities in the UC system as a whole, as shown in a data set that economists obtained from UC administrators. Black, American-Indian and Hispanic students made up 26% of all U.C. freshmen in 2010, up from 16% in 1997; the number of B.A.s earned by black and Hispanic students in four years rose 55% between 1995-97 and 2001-03, while the number with GPAs above 3.5 rose 63%.
It shouldn’t surprise us that giving people things they didn’t actually earn – such as admission to a college – doesn’t help them. Admissions standards are intended to discern which students are ready to attend classes at a given institution and which aren’t. Lowering those standards for a certain group only makes it more likely that those admitted from that group aren’t actually ready.
It’s something akin to grade school teachers passing on problem students who haven’t fulfilled academic objectives rather than holding them back. Has the teacher done those students any good by pushing them on to higher grades, and tougher schoolwork, despite not having mastered more elementary levels?
Again, giving people things they didn’t earn doesn’t help them.Tags: affirmative action