Diversity without racial preferences

Can Diversity Survive Without Affirmative Action?  The Supreme Court will rule soon on whether the University of Texas can use race and ethnicity in admissions, points out the New York Times‘ Room for Debate blog. If universities can’t use race, can they achieve diversity by giving preferences to low-income students, improving outreach and financial aid or ending legacy preferences?

Affirmative action for low-income students of all races is fairer than racial preferences, writes Richard Kahlenberga senior fellow at the Century Foundation.

Liberals are likely to bemoan any Supreme Court decision reducing racial preferences, but such policies never had the support of the American public and a ruling along these lines could pave the way for better programs. While universities prefer race-based programs that assemble generally well-off students of all colors, the end of such programs will likely usher in a more aggressive set of policies that will, at long last, address America’s growing economic divide.

California has preserved diversity, despite a state ban on race-based affirmation action, writes Stephanie Reyes-Tuccio, who directs the Center for Educational Partnerships at the University of California at Irvine. “Outreach to disadvantaged communities equals more outreach to students of color.”

Academic merit should be the primary criteria for admission, writes Richard Vedder, an Ohio University economist who directs the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.

It is unfair and wrong to accept a black child from a prosperous college-educated family with a $200,000 income while rejecting an equally qualified white person from a poor household with a $40,000 income where the parents never attended college.

“Taking more poor students . . . arguably promotes the American Dream of equality of opportunity, but also works to support minority admissions,” Vedder writes. But they must be qualified academically.

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  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    I suppose you have to define diversity. One of the lame excuses was to expose all those nasty WASPs to black people. Good for’em. The WASPs, according to the lame excuse. Need a critical mass for that.
    But, hell, if the AA admits are blacks who are almost good enough to get in without a boost, there’s not much diversity in that group.
    A legacy preference might give you a well-connected slacker. Lots of them around. Ought to have a shot at knowing them.
    Reach out? To whom?
    I like the idea of giving serious scholarship money to the qualified-but-broke. Close the latest offices created since, say, 1980 and use that money.

    • If diversity is the goal, why do we allow the monorities to self segregate themselves when they get there?

      • SuperSub says:

        Because if you let them interact with everyone else, they just might integrate successfully into our wonderful melting pot. You don’t see many Irish Studies professors and administrators, do you?

  2. IIRC, most of the legacy admits are close to the regular (non-AA,non-athletes) admits in terms of academic records. At any rate, removal of legacy preferences will undoubtedly put a significant dent in alumni giving. I’ve known many Ivy etc. alums and they’re clear that their giving reflects their hope that their kids will get admitted. Usually, they did, but the parents also made it clear to the kids that top grades in the toughest classes, significant extracurriculars and top test scores would be necessary.

    Of course, the “growing economic divide” is significantly affected by culture. Those on the upper end exhibit habits and behaviors very different from those on the lower end; good parenting, work hard in school, take the right coursework, don’t do drugs or commit crimes and get married before having kids. The kids in poor urban schools need better curriculum (Afrocentric should be something done outside school because it doesn’t prepare kids for good colleges) and more effective instruction. Kids should also be expected to take advantages of the local sites of cultural, academic and artistic interest; by MS-HS, on their own, and report on such visits. The bright and motivated kids should be grouped together, in separate classes and/or schools, so they are challenged.

    Bottom line on AA; If kids are admitted to top schools with SAT/ACT scores 200-300 points below the class mean (often documented, cited in Fisher case), which is 2 std. deviations below the mean, and significantly weaker coursework, there’s not much motivation for them to work harder and do better in HS. End AA.

  3. When it comes to affirmative action, the thing that the pro-aa never talk about is why so many asians get into the top colleges? I teach at a school that is 1/3 gifted magnet and about 40% of those students are asian. Many of those asian students are poor and recently came to the united states. In my low-level class, it is 90% hispanic with 90% of the kids in the class having at least one Fail and about half having 3+ fails. They just simply don’t care about their education when they walk in everyday with no homework, left their stuff at home, and discipline doesn’t affect them.
    I also teach an AVID class with 3 asians, 2 whites, 1 african-american, and 30 hispanics. Included in some of these students are 2 students who came to the united states just 2 years ago and 3 students who are deaf/hard of hearing. Those students have zero fails and half of 3.75+ gpa.
    Once you change the culture of many of these minority students, you don’t need affirmative action in college.

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      “Once you….” I expect you mean, once you control for culture in your statistics.
      Because you can’t mean actually “change”, as in make different, the culture in question.
      Our high school routinely hits the top ten or fifteen nationally in the Science Olympiad, notably without Asians or Indians. I talked to the father of one of the local contestants who said the Asians and Indians are not just “students” who are good at and concentrate on science. They’re groomed and pushed like soldiers.
      My daughter had a student who had a string of zeros. Did nothing, more or less cheerfully and without disruption. He didn’t need education. He was going to go to Hollywood and be a celebrity manager.
      IMO, part of the poor attitude toward education is like this, if not so egregious. IOW, absolute cluelessness about how the world works. It’s not that they don’t know, but what they do know is frequently wrong. And when they find it out, too late, they’ll think they’ve been hosed. Which is true, but the supposed villains aren’t the ones really to blame.