Affirmative Action
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Ho v. San Francisco Unified School District


Though I could only skim this, it's 35 pages long, I understand the gist of why public schools in San Francisco do not use affirmative action. After Lowell High School  made the standards higher for admission of asian-american students, families sued.  It's reverse affirmative action.  Asian Americans are discriminated against because they have an stereotypically intense work ethic, which apparently schools don't want (this is my opinion not the articles). This affirmative action was trying to limit a group, instead of welcoming it.  In a way full-on affirmative action today is trying to squeeze out the white students, but there are so many I don't really see how that's totally plausible.  Anyways, this article promotes the neutrality and fairness that comes along with not having affirmative action, which is a plus.

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Affirmative Action Debate: Tim Wise 3/14- Intelligence Squared U.S.

The motion: "It's time to end affirmative action" Moderator: Robert Siegel Speaking for the motion: John H. McWhorter, Terence J. Pell and Joseph C. Phillips...
Ella McLeod's insight:



-history of affirmative action for whites

-unearned opportunities

-land giveaways

-end of affirmative action cements -white priviledge cycle

-end would ignore current reality of white priviledge

-50% chance of a person with a white sounding name getting a callback  for an interview after applying for a job than someone with a black sounding name

-ignore built in preference to whites

-point system favors whites

-Jennifer Gratz-no problem with less qualified white people

-it is whites who have been held to lower standards

-good George Bush example 

-blacks in more selective schools do better in comparison with their white counterparts than those who go to less selective schools

-need alternative if we are to stop this

-need more than equality-MLK quote



Tim Wise is set on the idea that Affirmative Action is necessary to level the unfair advantages that whites are given from birth. His most pressing argument, I thought, was when he brought up Jennifer Gratz, and explained that she complained about the 85 black students who were accepted some of whom had achieved less than her.  What she did not complain about, though, was all the white students who got in who were lower achievers than her.  I'm the case in Texas also ignored that.  


I understand why some think affirmatve action is necessary, but I think some alternative should at least be considered, starting earlier in life so that those who are born priviledged but work really hard arent left in the dust because of their unchangeable details.

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10925 Success

10925 Success | Affirmative Action |
Ella McLeod's insight:

Affirmative action began on good grounds.  It gave people a chance to fight back, to demand equality.  When the black worker in the article was told he could not go on a work field trip, he was able to use 10925 to change that.  It's unclear whether or not the intention of the immediate supervisor was honest, if he really didnt want the worker to feel humiliated or if he didnt want to bring the worker on the trip.  Either way the 10925 gave the worker the chance to call for the same opportunities as everyone else. When he did go on the field trip, it all worked out, an example of why 10925 had the power to disprove false theories.

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Supreme Court sidesteps big ruling on Texas affirmative action

Supreme Court sidesteps big ruling on Texas affirmative action | Affirmative Action |
The Supreme Court sidestepped a sweeping decision on the use of race-conscious school admission policies, ruling Monday on the criteria at the University of Texas and whether it violates the equal protection rights of some white applicants.
Ella McLeod's insight:

Texas Affirmative Action Case


-case returned to the lower courts

-school defends consideration of race in admissions process, says it is part of creating a diverse campus.

-univ. happy with courts decision, thinks the court is affirming that affirmative action is constitutional

-Obama on side of the University

-Univ. has to prove that they cannot  be successful without considering race

-Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas (only african-american) "Although cloaked in good intentions, the university's racial tinkering harms the very people it claims to be helping"

-Justice Ruth Baker "I have said before and reiterate here that only an ostrich could regard the supposedly neutral alternative as race unconscious."

-2003 Supreme Court decision that universities can consider race (in limited circumstances)

-affirmative action already run its course?



 This article proves how unofficial affirmative action is today.  The court is unsure whether or not it should still exist, and fails to hit the issue head on. Instead they pass it onto the lower courts with the instruction that the University of Texas must prove they need affirmative action in order to be as (successful? diverse?) as they are today, which is not an easy task. Though the court represents a wide variety of opinions, few were needed to decide that they should give the case to the lower courts.  Hopefully the case will return to them (maybe it already has?) and they will get to lay out all their thoughts and make a final decision on this matter.  

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U.S. History In Context - Document

U.S. History In Context
Ella McLeod's insight:

This article includes both the history of Affirmative Action and some more recent opinions on the subject.  Affirmative action began during the civil rights movement in the 1960's, to help end racial discrimination that was so prevalent at the time.   President Kennedy and President Johnson first attempted Affirmative Action by encouraging equal opportunity in the workforce. When that proved unsuccessful, employers began to give preference to African Americans, and later Hispanics, Native Americans, and women as well.  The article  includes a section on affirmative action outside of the U.S., like in India, Sri Lanka, and South Africa.  It then goes on to share the opinions of those who are for and those who are against affirmative action.  


The most interesting  opinion (to me) was that Affirmative Action is reverse racism, and "contravenes the principle of equal rights for all individuals"


I was also very interested int he fact that those who benefit from Affirmative Action are usually privileged members of a minority group, which is not surprising at all since they  have support from the start.

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CA Secretary of State - Vote96 - Text of Proposition 209

Ella McLeod's insight:
Proposition to End Affirmative Action in Public Settings (209)Preflection- why did you choose this piece and what do you currently KNOW   about this issue? I understand from other articles that this 1996 amendment banned public institutions from accepting students on the basis of race.  I also that it has dug this issue into the ground, so that it is still relevant but undiscussed.  UC Berkeley works around it with the comprehensive review system.  Race seems to be taken into consideration, just not talked about.          What do you WANT to learn more about?  I want to know exactly what the amendment contains, and how clear it is.          What did you LEARN?  The only clear part was the first line about how preferential treatment cannot be given on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national employment, whether it be for public education, public employment, or public contracting.  The rest is all confusing and its hard to think when they would apply.
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College Admissions, Race, and Unintended Consequences ...

College Admissions, Race, and Unintended Consequences ... | Affirmative Action |
The Big Reveal on Cal's holistic admissions process created much fuss, most of it on behalf of Asians who are clearly the victims of discriminatory behavior. I'm fussed, too. But most people don't completely understand how ...
Ella McLeod's insight:

New Emphasis on Grades in UC admissions process = Tactic to Get Around 1996 Ban on Affirmative Action


Golden Ideas:

The article brings up the idea of a standardized college exit exam, which I think could be a fascinating indicator of success.


1. The author takes issue with the recent changes in the UC admissions process that give significantly more weight to grades than test scores, arguing that schools may not always give honest grades.  " that majority URM schools could lie about their students’ academic abilities properly reflect the students’ diligence and abilities in subjects simply not valued by the institutional racists at the College Board."  "grades are a fraud. " "We hear constant stories about grade inflation at elite schools, while public universities are under tremendous pressure to pass as many wholly unqualified blacks and Hispanics as they can, given the huge number that can’t even get past the remedial classes."

This worries me because even though Urban is a great school filled with hardworking students, the average is a B instead of a C like it is in public school.

 2. The author makes many assumptions, and says things like, I think, or "it used to, anyway" and lacks evidence for claims like  "The changes they had hoped might improve scores for blacks and Hispanics (my interpretation) had instead led to unimaginable increases in high Asian scores in the SAT." 


Questions to Research Further:


What was the law in 1996 that forbid the UC system from considering race in admissions?

What are the details of  "comprehensive review", the new UC admissions process apparently described in a New York Times Article?

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Affirmative Action Debate: John H. McWhorter 4/14- Intelligence Squared U.S.

The motion: "It's time to end affirmative action" Moderator: Robert Siegel Speaking for the motion: John H. McWhorter, Terence J. Pell and Joseph C. Phillips...
Ella McLeod's insight:

John McWhorter

-no problem with affirmative action if it leads to the acceptance of an equally qualified black over a white

-aa is not just a tiebreaker

-1991-420 students admitted into selective law schools, only 24 had the appropriate qualifications of white and asians

-confusing sat score example 3:15

-Richard Sander-black students admitted to 163 law schools, many only for diversity, many were in the bottom 10% of class, many failed the barr exam

-to end aa does not ban blacks from universities

-go to the school they should be going to, more likely to succeed

-hated when he was called on in class asking for the "black experience"-uncomfortable expectation of diverse viewpoints

-how has diversity helped improve a school?

-7:10? i think he's mixing up his facts

-legacy students not a pretty picture

-aa hurts black students, does not let them be the best they can be

  McWhorter's main point is that affirmative action isn't necessarily beneficial for blacks because it isnt a tiebreaker that goes to the black student.  Putting underqualified students into highly selective schools is denying them the experience of going to a school where they have the chance to succeed.  I think he mixed his words up a bit, though, there were a couple examples that completely contradicted his point thrown in there.
Michalla Jean Wainwright's curator insight, March 24, 2015 1:11 PM

Im currently learning about affirmative action in my race and ethnic relations class!

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The Equity Gap, 1965-2013 [Infographic] - COLORLINES

The Equity Gap, 1965-2013 [Infographic] - COLORLINES | Affirmative Action |
A graphic look at why affirmative action started—and what its loss may mean for higher education.
Ella McLeod's insight:

This infographic provides interesting statistics on the progression of different races in America, most comparing the situation in the 1960's to the situation now.  I assume its point is to prove that minorities still need affirmative action because though the playing field is a bit more even, it is not totally level.  It's unlcear where some of the information is coming from, though, like the part about the dropping enrollment if Fisher vs. Texas is implemented.  I understand that things still aren't equal, but its hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of a college accepting someone less qualified because of their race.  But then again I do understand a college looking at the bigger picture, which can include race, and long as it isnt only the color of their skin, because that doesn't necessarily mean they have lived a life of hardship.  

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10925 Success

10925 Success | Affirmative Action |
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Historical Newspapers

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Presidents Committee on Equal Opportunity

-equal opportunity in gov't jobs

"sanctions sweeping enough to ensure compliance"

complete review of all current gov't workplaces, see how many minorities are employed at each place

-order will mean the end of workforce discrimination

"immediate action"



-u.s. policy to assure equality 


Part 1-Establishment of the President's Committe on Equal Employment Opportunity

VP in charge

Secretary of labor second in command

+ pretty much everyone else in gov't

yearly report on actions of the committee


Part 2-Nondiscrimination in Government Employment

-scrutinize and study gov't employment

-recommend aa steps


Part 3-Obligations of Government Contractors and Subcontractors

-contractors will not discriminate by "race, creed, color, or national origin"

-treated fairly while working (equal pay, equal chance at being promoted etc.)

-advertisements must say "all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, creed, color, or national origin

-same goes for subcontractors and vendors

-compliance reports

-signed written piece proving they are not discriminating


-allowed to investigate whether or not a workplace has violated


Sanctions and Penalties:

-committee can publish the names of the workplaces that did not comply, and the names of the ones that did

-get dep't of justice involved if its a big deal

-termination of contract with violating contractor


Part IV-Miscellaneous

(nothing fascinating)




This article makes the good intentions of the goverment so clear.  They werent looking to fire all white workers and rehire black ones, they were only trying to make it so that those who had the same qualifictions were considered equally, which is completely fair and even necessary at the time. 



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Lifting the Veil on the Holistic Process at the University of California, Berkeley

Lifting the Veil on the Holistic Process at the University of California, Berkeley | Affirmative Action |
Who’s a 2? Who’s a 5? Ranking a pool of Berkeley hopefuls in a sea of ambiguities.
Ella McLeod's insight:

Don't Ask Don't Tell Berkeley Admissions Process


What is the article about?

This article describes the UC Berkeley Admissions process, known as Holistic or Comprehensive review, from the perspective of Ruth Starkman, a teacher who signed on to partake in the tricky admissions process with many unspoken rules.  Eligibility is based on "big picture", which is Berkeley's way around prop 209 that banned the UC's from using affirmative action.  Starkman argues that the system is just under-the-table affirmative action, though he doesn't specifically say it's a bad thing.



What are commenters saying about the article?


There are a variety of interesting comments.  I chose to read the NYT picks because I think they know how to choose a wide range of comments.  One, written by a  former student who was admitted "special action" before prop 209 passed, seemed bothered by the authors questioning of whether or not a student who was not extremely successful in high school could be successful at Berkeley.  He was successful because he studied 5-6 hours every night (which seems a little excessive to me) and argued that hard work was all that was necessary to do well.  Another person commented, in reference to the opening of the article

"It was so sad to read about the poor (subcontinental) Indian student, who was ranked almost the same as a Mexican student with vastly lower qualifications. Apparently the Indian boy was the wrong kind of brown." 


What do you think about the article, the comments, and why?


I think both the article and the comments are filled with troubling and enlightening points.  Especially the comment about the right shade of brown.  There seems to be so much stereotyping in the process.  What bothered me the most was the don't-ask-don't tell-like quality to the process.  I'm not really in favor of affirmative action but I'm less fond of hidden affirmative action.  It makes it difficult for the readers to judge fairly if they have to decipher things like "we’re looking at — again, that phrase — the “bigger picture” of the applicant’s life." and “Oh, you’ll get a lot of them.”

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