This article in the Ms. magazine talks about a court case that focuses on supporting affirmative action. Schuette vs. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Right and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) challenges the constitutionality of Michigan's ban on affirmative action programs in government higher, contracting and higher education. Proposal 2 prohibits Michigan state universities from including race and sex as factors in the admission process. The parties against Schuette claim that Proposal 2 is a violation of the 14th amendment because it takes away political power from minority groups. However, the court does not seem to view that abolishing affirmative goes against the 14th amendment, whereas they believe affirmative action itself does go against the 14th amendment. This article re-iterates how hard it is to support affirmative action from a legal standpoint.
I was surprised that this article said that SAT and ACT scores were a valid measure of brainpower and cognitive ability. I was surprised just because I have always been told, by colleges and others, as well as seen in other articles, that the SAT and ACT is not a measure of someone's ability to succeed in and educational environment, which is how most people interpret "brainpower" and "cognitive ability." I looked at all the school with the top SAT scores and found that out of the 25 high schools with the highest standardized test scores, 16 were private schools, 8 were public, and 1 was a charter school. I feel like this only supports the fact that people who score high on the SAT are usually rich. Even 6 of the 8 public schools were in predominantly white-suburban areas where the average income was 40,000 or higher. In terms of affirmative action, this data shows how the SAT is not a good measure of brainpower of cognitive ability, but rather how much money one has to hire tutors to teach them how to take the test. Although there are a few exceptions as there is to any generalization, I feel like this points to how our definition of "merit" is not independent of socio-economic class, and because race hugely correlates with socioe-economic class, it is not independent of race either. For me, this shows how our educational system is built on protecting the elite.
In states that have banned affirmative action in college admissions, prominent public universities have tended to enroll fewer black and Hispanic freshmen.
Malini Sharma's insight:
This article focuses on five states where affirmative action is banned, or has been banned, California, Michigan, Texas, Washington and Florida. For different state schools in each state, there is a corresponding graph that compares the percentage of the college age state population of a certain race to the percentage of the school population of a certain race. I thought it was interesting how the percentage of Hispanics in the Michigan schools reflect the population pretty well, but the percentage of Black was very disproportionate. In almost every graph, the percentage of both Blacks and Hispanics decrease dramatically in the years before a ban on affirmative action is placed. The ban on affirmative action seems to have affected California schools the most, which the percentage decreasing the most before the ban and continuing the decrease afterward. Excluding California, the percentage difference between population in the school and population in the state seems to increase and decrease proprotional to each other, even if the percentages are not equal. So the percentage difference is relatively constant for all schools and states in this article except for California. It would be interesting to see why that is the case for California.
I was really interested in this viewpoint because I agree with many of its main points. It focused a lot on the response to Obama's election and how it affected views on affirmative action. The author writes about how people think affirmative action is now unnecessary because of Obama's election. People who believe this use success stories like this one to support their point. However the author point out, and I agree, that the hundreds of years of oppression cannot be resolved in only about fifty years. It was also interesting to learn about the actual legal side of affirmative action. Even though people support affirmative action, it is hard to support it on legal standpoint. Even though I still agree that affirmative action is definitely needed, I would not know how to back up my beliefs in terms of the law.
Here is some background information about affirmative action as well as a few notable court cases.
Malini Sharma's insight:
Legal progression of affirmative action
This article gives us a few facts about affirmative action as well as describes notable events in court cases throughout the years. There are no comments on this article, but I thought it was intersting how the people who have benefited the most by affirmative action are white women. Also this article focuses on the fact that affirmative action promotes racial diversity in classes and in the workplace. The cases that the author brings up are also centered around the racial part of affirmative action. I think there are many benefits of affirmative action, and diversity is only one of them. Another is in the realm of equal opportunitites and not only racially, but also socio-economically. I feel like affirmative action it supposed to apply to anyone who is considered a minority or anyone who is considered not priveleged in terms of the ism's we talked about inclass.
Some minority students who get into a top school with the help of affirmative action might be better served by attending a less elite institution.
Malini Sharma's insight:
Advantages and Disadvantages of Affirmative Action: The mismatch theory.
This article asks some of the questions that I specifically have, most prominently "does affirmative action's possible benefits outweigh its possible drawbacks?" The article focuses on the Mistmatch theory, that affirmative action could be hurting the students its supposed to help by pushing them into an environment where they are uncomfortable and do not have the equipment to succeed. From what I read, it seems like both the article and the commenters believe that affirmative action is not beneficial and that the mismatching it causes is detrimental. What interests me the most is that the article says that the purpose of affirmative action is to promote diversity in schools. I was under the impression that the goal of affirmative action is to provide families and students with the opportunity to move up in the class system. It also interested me that most of the comments and this article focused on race and its correlation to affirmative action, whereas I though affirmative action was more generally connected to anyone in a minority, not necessarily a racial minority. Although I do think the mismatching theory is true in some cases, i personally feel like the added opportunities and connects of a highly regarded university will still help that student find a stable job, even if it is not at a super successful lawyer or doctor or something like that. The article mentions that it is hard to measure the benefits of affirmative action, I am interested in looking to see if anyone has tried to measure if students have benefited from affirmative action like some studies in this article have measured how students have been negatively affected by affirmative action.
The prospects for the pro-affirmative action plaintiffs in Tuesday’s Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action Supreme Court case were never terribly promising. And the oral arguments yesterday did little to challenge that notion.
Malini Sharma's insight:
I thought this was super interesting because it was a court case against the ban on affirmative action in Michigan. The pro-affirmative action side argued that the ban on affirmative action violated the 14th amendment because it singled out minorities and prevented them from moving up in social class. This surprised me because most of the court cases we hear about are against affirmative action and use the 14th amendment as a tool to bring down affirmative action, whereas here, they are using as a way to support affirmative action. This also has to do with how supporting affirmative action from a legal standpoint is very hard. In my opinion, in order to be totally "colorblind", one must take into account color. This statement goes against the main supposed truth of America; that people have the opportunity to do what they want regardless of their race, socio-economic class, gender, sexuality, or anything else that is not a choice. But because there is no way to grow up without making your own categories and assumptions about a person based on the first thing you notice about them, their race, you have to recognize those prejudices, not ignore them.This just goes back to show how it is hard to support affirmative action in terms of actually making laws and programs and things like that.
The core rationale for affirmative action has been lost in decades of legal wrangling over the policy.
Malini Sharma's insight:
One of the points this article made that I had never thought about before was why colleges support affirmative action in terms of diversity. It point out that while affirmative action was started with the purpose of working against past inequality in terms of racism, if universities were to support affirmative action for this reason, they would have to prove, in a legal sense, that they themselves have previously discriminated against the certain groups of people they are "going to great lengths to admit." According to the article, this would make universities open to litigation from students of color they have previously denied. I was really interested by this because in terms of legality, it is hard to support affirmative action for what it was primarily made for. We have to sort of beat around the bush and find another way to support what affirmative action does, in a way that fits into our constitution. Up until now, the court has opposed any support of affirmative action that lies outside of the "diversity" argument. The court argues that having diversity in schools "serves a larger social and pedagogical purpose" to making students more well-rounded and able to understand more than one perspective. However now, this argument is starting to seem more invalid. It seems that affirmative action will soon be totally abolished. It seems like the supreme court is trying harder and harder to stop talking about race and making race a deciding factor in their big decisions. People do not want to acknowledge race because doing so would force them to also acknowledge their own racial privilege. This article also briefly mentions meritocracy, a common argument against affirmative action. It argues that students should only be allowed to enter a school based on their qualifications, as in grades and test scores. The problem with this argument is that it ignores that grades and test scores are very much impacted by previous education and that the biggest correlation between high SAT scores is high economic status. I was most surprised by this statistic --> "in 1998, former Harvard presidents William Bowen and Derek Bok found that eliminating race-conscious admissions policies at selective schools would have bumped up a white undergrad applicant’s chances for admission from 25 percent to 26.5 percent." Many people fail to notice that affirmative action is used between the already qualified. It does not bring those that are "unqualified" to a place where they will not be able to survive. This article also presents many statistics showing how unequal our country still is, and argues that grades and SAT scores are not the only things that determine someone capability to do well when presented with the opportunity to do so.
A graphic look at why affirmative action started—and what its loss may mean for higher education.
Malini Sharma's insight:
These little blurbs, graphs and statistics make it really easy to see how affirmative action has affected the united states when if was first mentioned vs. now. It was really interesting to see that even though unemployment rate has risen, the proportion of white unemployment and black unemployment is the same. So affirmative action does not seem to have an effect on the amount of people getting jobs. However, on average, it has increased wages for people of color over the years. Since The University of Texas is a state school, it seems like the number of students of a particular race who enter the school, should reflect the demographics of the state, however we can see that this is not true. We can also see that in states who have banned affirmative action, the percentage of students of color in schools like UC Berkeley and UCLA have decreased by around 30-50%. From most of this data, we can see that affirmative has slowly started to benefit students of color and increase mobility between classes. But now that it is already becoming banned, we have not really been able to see how much it can help level the playing field in its full potential.
From this article, I learned about the history of affirmative action. It was first introduced when in the 1960's, the Jim Crow laws were finally abolished. In 1961, President Kennedy first used the term affirmative action in an effort to promote equal opportunitites in both employment and education. For me, there were many thorns about this article. One of the main ones is that people claimed Affirmative Action is like reverse racism against whites. This was a thorn because I do not think there is any such thing as reverse racism, or any other reverse-isms. Being racist is different from having predujices against a person based on their race. Another thorn was when the article said that affirmative action might have been beneficial in the past to level to playing field, but now minorities have had enough time to rise up to that level and that affirmative action is not needed anymore. This upsets me because the article does not seem to have a lot of proof that the field is level now. For me, I still think it is hugely uneven and unless we do more to try and understand why affirmative action is beneficial, it will stay that way. I am interested in researching more about how much responsibility affirmative action has in level the playing field and making sure opporunities are widely available for everyone.
Ruben Navarrette says affirmative action was justified to remedy wrongs a generation ago, but it has outlived its purpose.
Malini Sharma's insight:
Is Affirmative Action the actual problem?
This article is about the court case, Fisher vs. The University of Texas. The author seems to say that Fisher became frustrated and decided to attacK the admission process that would admit 25% of the freshman class and which considered both race and socio-economic status, instead of admitting that her grades were not good enough to be in the top 10% of her high school class. Later the author makes a few more points about affirmative action that are not affected by the case. He seems to say that affirmative action worked in the past, but now it is not as necessary. It worked before because minorities had an inherent disadvantage compared to white students because of years of oppression. But now, he seems to say that minorities have been given enough opportunities to not need affirmative action anymore. In one paragraph he describes how affirmative action holds minorities to a lower standard and instead of helping them, it hurts them. Many of the people in the comments do not seem to understand the authors points and do not realize that some of his conclusions are not intended to relate to the Fisher vs. The University of Texas case. Commenters talk about how race should not be a factor in the admissions process and that it should only be merit based. They also seem to agree with the author on the fact that affirmative action is actually hurting minorities by putting them in a place where they cannot survive. I disagree with this point because I do not think affirmative action is holding these students to lower standards. Looking back at the "five stereotypes about poor families and education," I feel like teachers and educators own stereotypes and prejudices about people with a certain socio-economic status or race, dictate what they constitute as successful for that individual student. I also think both the author and the commenters fail to realize that affirmative action is necessary to level the "playing field" in education and opportunities because of America's history with oppression and that these opportunities will not be available to all people, regardless of race or socio-economic status, for much longer than 25 years like the author believes. In this way, I do not think affirmative action in itself is the problem, but the stereotypes are the problem. I might change my opinions later after I learn more.
The list, plus how stereotypes affect the way students perform in classes.
Malini Sharma's insight:
How Stereotypes affect our ability to effectively help someone.
This article shows how the five most common stereotypes surrounding poor families are not true. The stereotypes include that poor families don't value education, that they are lazy, that they abuse substances, that they are linguistically deficient, and that poor parents are ineffective and inattentive . In this article, the author, Valerie Strauss, presents an excerpt from the book, “Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty: Strategies for Erasing the Opportunity Gap" by Paul C. Gorski. There are only 22 comments on this article, and many are from the same people, but the comments are diverse. Most people debate that the fourth stereotype is actually partly true. The author of the book is one of the commenters and he tries to explain that the stereotypes teachers have about low income students is only one problem of the many that keeps people in poverty. Since this is only an excerpt from a big book, I think some of the points the author tries to make are out of context in this article. From reading this, I think that many times, teachers' own stereotypes and prejudices get in the way of their ability to fully help their students succeed and feel successful. I wanted to read this article because I think it is related to how affirmative action might have been built on certain stereotypes and that it is necessary to realize and dispel these stereotypes first in order to then close the education gap effectively.
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