Posts tagged ‘affirmative action’

February 6, 2015

Many Hispanics are reclassifying their race identity

by Grace

Hispanics are changing their race identity in response to census questions.

In a working paper titled “America’s Changing Races: Race and Ethic Response Changes between Census 2000 and the 2010 Census,” the authors found that at 9.7 million Hispanics changed their racial and origin status….

The Census Bureau determined that between 2000 and 2010, 8.3 percent of Hispanics changed their “race and/or Hispanic origin response.” For blacks it was 5 percent and just 1 percent for whites.

Many census responders are staying Hispanic but changing their race.

The top three response changes from 2000 to 2010:

  1. Hispanic/Some Other Race change to Hispanic/White
  2. Hispanic/White change to Hispanic/Some Other Race
  3. White change to Hispanic White

The reasons for the changes are not clear, but modifications to the forms and the method of surveying may be factors.

Another possible reason?

Benefits are sometimes granted based on race and ethnicity, so perhaps that influences some changes.  Set-aside government contracts go to minorities.

College admission preferences are given based on race and ethnicity.  If I label myself Hispanic/White but later learn that Native Americans are considered the most valued Under Represented Minority (URM) by colleges, then I might change my identity to Hispanic/Native American.  (Most Hispanics can claim some degree of Native American ancestry, but colleges commonly require tribal certification before giving special preference.)

Are race and ethnicity social constructs?

At a conceptual level, our results highlight an oft-stated (but rarely incorporated) declaration – race and ethnicity are complex, multifaceted constructs. Taking this idea seriously puts the results of our research in a different light. If social science evidence is correct, people are constantly experiencing and negotiating their racial and ethnic identities in interactions with people and institutions, and in personal, local, national, and historical context. These racial and ethnic identities are not always able to be fully translated to a census questionnaire fixed-category format. Perhaps it is not surprising that people change responses and instead it is surprising that so many are consistent in their race and Hispanic origin reports to the Census Bureau.

Minority preferential treatment policies are becoming more complicated, and more difficult to implement.


“Colleges urged ‘to get creative in improving racial diversity’”

“Strategic race selection for college admissions”

“‘Hispanic now trumps all’ in race and ethnicity reporting”


Paul Bedard, “More Hispanics tell Census Bureau they’re ‘white'”, Washington Examiner, August 11, 2014.

May 1, 2014

Ten reasons to end affirmative action in college admissions

by Grace

Economics professor Mark J. Perry summarized tengood reasons we should end racial profiling and affirmative discrimination in college admissions”.

1. Racial and ethnic preferences are unjust — reason enough to abandon them.

2. They serve to perpetuate, rather than combat, racial stereotypes.

3. They encourage gaming the system (as when Elizabeth Warren claimed to be Native American).

4. They permit students from certain groups to coast in high school knowing they will get an automatic golden ticket to college.

5. They encourage intergroup resentment.

6. They result in what Stuart Taylor Jr. and Richard Sander have rightly called “mismatching” students — so that all but the very top minority students wind up attending schools that are a little out of their league.

7. Mismatching causes more minority students to abandon demanding majors like science and technology (so necessary for the economy’s flourishing).

8. Mismatch causes minority students to drop out in numbers far higher than other students. Black students are about a third more likely than similarly qualified other students to start college, but less likely to finish.

9. Admissions officers at selective schools pretend they are offering opportunity to “underserved” minorities, but in reality, they are simply lowering standards for already-privileged students with the preferred skin tone. Ninety-two percent of blacks at elite colleges are from the top half of the income distribution. A study a decade ago at Harvard Law School found that only a third of students had four African-American grandparents. Another third were from interracial families. The rest were children of recent immigrants from Africa or the West Indies.

10. Should mixed-race students get half a preference? Should their scores be 50 percent higher than students with two black parents? These are the kinds of absurdities our current system presents.

Speaking as a minority who may have benefited from affirmative action, I agree with these reasons.  I guess that means my views are more aligned with those of Justice Clarence Thomas than with those of Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

The “absurdities” mentioned in reason 10 makes me wonder how workable future affirmative action policies will be as we see higher percentages of mixed-race students enter college.

Related:  Coast to coast decline in support of affirmative action (Cost of College)

April 3, 2014

Coast to coast decline in support of affirmative action

by Grace

Two recent events, one on the West Coast and one on the East Coast, demonstrate that after half a century, support for racial preferences in college admissions is getting more and more unsustainable — both politically and intellectually.

Strong opposition by Asian-Americans helped defeat a California ballot measure pushing for the repeal of “Proposition 209, which banned racial preferences at state universities”.

… Asian Americans … flooded legislative offices with petitions arguing that a repeal would hurt their children’s prospects for getting into the most competitive public campuses. S. B. Woo, a former Democratic lieutenant governor of Delaware who is president of the Asian 80-20 PAC, led the effort, saying, “Asian Americans have always been picked out to be stepped on in race-conscious college admissions.”

The pressure led three Asian Democrats who had voted for the bill in the senate to withdraw their support and urge assembly speaker John Perez to postpone a vote. “We have heard from thousands of people throughout California voicing their concerns about the potential impacts,” they wrote Perez. “Many in the [Asian/Pacific Islander] and other communities throughout the state feel that this legislation would prevent their children from attending the college of their choice.”

Meanwhile on the east coast, support of race-based admissions among Harvard students dropped after a debate on whether “affirmative action does more harm than good”.

… Harvard professor Randall Kennedy, the author of the book For Discrimination, and Columbia professor Ted Shaw, the former head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, argued that diversity is an important and noble goal that universities must pursue. UCLA professor Richard Sander, author of the book Mismatch, and University of San Diego professor Gail Heriot, a commissioner on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, presented statistics from over 20 peer-reviewed studies that showed how the good intentions of affirmative-action supporters have had disastrous results.

The research cited by Sander and Heriot shows that universities routinely put a race-conscious fist on the admissions scale, rather than a thumb. These heavy preferences mean that the median African-American student at law school has credentials lower than those of 99 percent of the Asian and white students — and underrepresented minorities admitted to law school based on a heavy preference are two to three times more likely to fail the bar exam.

… Professors Kennedy and Shaw didn’t challenge the empirical studies on mismatch, and Kennedy even stipulated that they were true. But he said the quest for diversity is important enough to justify affirmative action …

Professor Kennedy defended the harm inflicted on Asian-Americans, as long as it benefited other minority groups.

… Kennedy didn’t deny that Asians are harmed by racial preferences; he simply said the benefits of diversity are worth some individual sacrifice: “We have all sorts of programs that disadvantage people.” Sander replied that the “large racial penalty for Asian Americans” is “really repugnant” — Asian Americans are being “treated the way we used to treat Jewish Americans” when there was a cap on their presence at elite schools.

Given the overwhelming liberal ethos of Harvard’s campus, the impact of the debate on the audience was surprising. Audience members voted by keypad before and after the debate. Among those expressing a position, opposition to affirmative action rose by nearly a third — from 31 percent before the debate to 40 percent afterward. Support dropped from 69 percent before the debate to 60 percent afterward.

A recent Gallup poll shows most Americans oppose affirmative action in college admissions.

Related:  ‘Racial preferences mostly benefit fairly privileged students of color’ who help dispel stereotypes (Cost of College)

John Fund, “Racial Preferences Under Siege”, National Review Online, March 20, 2014. 

June 26, 2013

Quick Links – Contranyms; affirmative action drama continues; boys problems

by Grace

TIL a word that can be its own antonym is called a contranym.

Also referred to as an auto-antonym or Janus word

Some examples from Daily Writing Tips:

  • Bolt: To secure, or to flee
  • Dust: To add fine particles, or to remove them
  • Flog: To promote persistently, or to criticize or beat
  • Sanction: To approve, or to boycott
  • Trim: To decorate, or to remove excess from

Here’s an example from contemporary slang:  …”bitch” can refer to someone who’s domineering or submissive.

* * * * *

‘So the drama over affirmative action continues’.

From the WSJ:

The Supreme Court, in an anticlimax, sidestepped a sweeping ruling on affirmative action Monday, directing lower courts to re-examine whether a race-conscious admissions program at the University of Texas at Austin should survive constitutional scrutiny.

Summed up in a Chronicle of Higher Ed headline:

Supreme Court Puts New Pressure on Colleges to Justify Affirmative Action

* * * * *

This might be an iconic photo, emblematic of the “boys problem” in our schools.


These young women are the senior class officers at a local public high school* that held graduation last week.  They look like a fine group of accomplished, motivated students.

* No, this is not an all-girls school.

February 6, 2013

Quick Links – GED test changes; race-based college admissions; flipped classrooms; and more

by Grace

◊◊◊  GED test changes will make it harder to pass

Normally, there’s no rush to complete the seven-hour test, which is designed to approximate a high school education by measuring proficiency in reading, writing, mathematics, science and social studies. If students pass only some components of the test, they have as long as they want to retake the sections they failed.

But test-takers’ previous scores will expire when a new version of the GED debuts Jan. 1, 2014 — a change that will affect more than 4 million people nationwide, said CT Turner, the GED Testing Service’s director of public affairs.

Other changes to the test are expected to include a higher required reading comprehension level, mirroring a slight increase nationwide in the performance level of graduating high school seniors.

The test, which had previously been offered on paper, will become online only.

Applicants rush to fulfill GED requirements before rules get tougher (


A Supreme Court decision on whether universities can use race as an admissions factor is expected by June, however the court of public opinion has already weighed in on the matter – and Americans of all stripes stand largely against affirmative action, according to a variety of recent polls.

In those surveys, at least half if not more of those polled voiced opposition to race-based preferences.

Take a Rasmussen national telephone survey, which found only 24 percent of likely voters were in favor of using race as a factor in college admissions, while 55 percent stood opposed, and the rest were undecided. That survey was conducted 11 months ago.

More recently, a survey released in October found that 57 percent of Americans ages 18 to 25 – so-called young millennials – are opposed to racial preferences in college admissions or hiring decisions. In other words, nearly six out of every 10 opposed the practice.

  Flipped classrooms shows positive results in a Detroit school, but lack widespread evidence that they improve academic achievement.

Flipped learning apparently is catching on in schools across the nation as a younger, more tech-savvy generation of teachers is moving into classrooms. Although the number of “flipped” teachers is hard to ascertain, the online community Flipped Learning Network now has 10,000 members, up from 2,500 a year ago, and training workshops are being held all over the country, said executive director Kari Afstrom.

Under the model, teachers make eight- to 10-minute videos of their lessons using laptops, often simply filming the whiteboard as the teacher makes notations and recording their voice as they explain the concept. The videos are uploaded onto a teacher or school website, or even YouTube, where they can be accessed by students on computers or smartphones as homework….

Class time is then devoted to practical applications of the lesson — often more creative exercises designed to engage students and deepen their understanding. On a recent afternoon, Kirch’s students stood in pairs with one student forming a cone shape with her hands and the other angling an arm so the “cone” was cut into different sections.

Promising results in a Detroit school

In the Detroit suburb of Clinton Township, Clintondale High School Principal Greg Green converted the whole school to flipped learning in the fall of 2011 after years of frustration with high failure rates and discipline problems. Three-quarters of the school’s enrollment of 600 is low-income, minority students.

Flipping yielded dramatic results after just a year, including a 33 percent drop in the freshman failure rate and a 66 percent drop in the number of disciplinary incidents from the year before, Green said. Graduation, attendance and test scores all went up. Parent complaints dropped from 200 to seven.

Green attributed the improvements to an approach that engages students more in their classes.

“Kids want to take an active part in the learning process,” he said. “Now teachers are actually working with kids.”

But no substantial evidence that flipped classrooms are better

“They’re expecting kids to do the learning outside the classroom. There’s not a lot of evidence this works,” said Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters, a New York City-based parent advocacy group. “What works is reasonably sized classes with a lot of debate, interaction and discussion.”

Teachers flip for ‘flipped learning’ class model (Yahoo News)

  What Uncle Sam can (and cannot) do to improve K–12 schooling: Lessons for the next four years (American Enterprise Institute)

A new report from AEI:

… As Obama and Duncan prepare for a second term, it is worth examining what the federal government can and cannot do to reform America’s system of education. Washington has been particularly effective in ensuring constitutional protections are upheld in education, connecting education reforms to national priorities, giving states and districts incentives for implementing policy changes, and collecting and reporting data related to school reforms. However, because decisions directly affecting individual schools are made at the state and local levels, Washington bureaucrats have largely failed at enforcing mandates and fixing poorly performing schools. The new Obama administration would do well to embrace a more measured approach to education reform that reflects lessons learned from past successes and failures….

“When it comes to fixing schools, the federal track record is bleak.”

October 12, 2012

‘Racial preferences mostly benefit fairly privileged students of color’ who help dispel stereotypes

by Grace

Richard Kahlenberg on current affirmative action policies:

Bottom line:  Race conscious policies consciously discriminate against non-minorities based on their race (regardless of their income), disproportionately help out upper income minorities, and do little/nothing to help lower income minorities– all in the name of achieving “diversity” while simultaneously keeping SAT scores up.   “Equal” protection of the laws?  Give me a break.

Kahlenberg is a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank.

Given the evidence for the success of race-neutral alternatives, it’s difficult not to suspect that university officials who defend racial preferences are really after what Stephen Carter has called “racial justice on the cheap.” Racial preferences mostly benefit fairly privileged students of color; 86% of African-Americans at selective colleges were middle or upper class, according to Derek Bok and William Bowen in their book “The Shape of the River.”

Elizabeth Price Foley summarizes the Fisher v. University of Texas case now being argued in the Supreme Court.

… The case comes just a few years after the Supreme Court decided a pair of landmark affirmative action cases involving the University of Michigan.  In the main Michigan case, Grutter v. Bollinger, a deeply divided (5-4) Court upheld the use of race as “one factor” in a “holistic” admissions program with the end goal of creating a “critical mass” of certain minority students in the name of racial “diversity.”

The University of Texas policy being challenged does two things:  (1) It automatically admits, in a race-blind manner, the top 10% of every high school’s graduating class; and (2) for the remaining seats, the University uses the “holistic” approach, in which race is one factor.  The challenger of the law, a white female, asserts that using option 1 (race-neutral “top 10%”) negates the need for using option 2 (race consciousness).  Because, in other words, option1 yields a sufficiently “diverse” student body, why continue to use race at all?

The question before the Court is pretty straightforward:  Once a race-neutral policy is in place that creates a diverse student body, is it consistent with the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to then use race in the name of “diversity”?

Justice Kagan has recused herself from the Fisher case, leaving only 8 Justices to decide.

Upper-class minorities are needed to “help dispel stereotypical assumptions”.

Ann Althouse writes that one of the points made during the current Supreme Court proceedings was that policies of admitting minorities from middle-class or professional families “help dispel stereotypical assumptions…which actually may be reinforced” by minorities admitted by typical affirmative action policies.  As a minority woman who studied and worked in a STEM field, I may have benefited from affirmative action at some point.  After they got to know me, my work colleagues at my first job after college joked about the low expectations they had of me when they learned I was joining their department.  They assumed I was an affirmative action hire who wasn’t quite up to the company’s normal standards.

I don’t doubt that 86% of African-Americans at selective colleges come from higher-income families,  based on what I’ve seen at one university.  Actually,  lower-income students of all races are underrepresented at top universities.

October 3, 2012

Quick links – SAT scores continue to drop, affirmative action questioned, the downside of smartphones, more

by Grace

 ‘SAT reading scores hit a four-decade low’ (Washington Post)

Reading scores on the SAT for the high school class of 2012 reached a four-decade low, putting a punctuation mark on a gradual decline in the ability of college-bound teens to read passages and answer questions about sentence structure, vocabulary and meaning on the college entrance exam.

Many experts attribute the continued decline to record numbers of students taking the test, including about one-quarter from low-income backgrounds. There are many factors that can affect how well a student scores on the SAT, but few are as strongly correlated as family income.

Scores among every racial group except for those of Asian descent declined from 2006 levels. A majority of test takers — 57 percent — did not score high enough to indicate likely success in college, according to the College Board, the organization that administers the test.

—  Critics charge that there is a ‘Research War on Affirmative Action’ (Inside Higher Ed)

Several studies presented Friday at the Brookings Institution suggested that eliminating the consideration of race would not have as dramatic an effect on minority students as some believe, and that the beneficiaries of affirmative action may in fact achieve less academic success than they would otherwise. The studies were criticized by some present for being one-sided.

Criticism was aimed at two studies with controversial conclusions:

  1. There seems to be no “chilling effect” as a result of doing away with affirmative action.  The yield rate for minority students who were admitted based on “race-neutral” standards actually increased after the affirmative action ban took effect.
  2. Strong evidence was presented for the harmful effects of affirmative action “mismatch” –  the idea “that minority students who are admitted to better institutions because of affirmative action may end up with lower academic achievement as a result”.

The Supreme Court will begin hearing the affirmative action case of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin this month.

—  ACT now more popular than the SAT (

—  ‘Pack More in a Day By Matching Tasks To the Body’s Energy’ (WSJ)

A growing body of research suggests that paying attention to the body clock, and its effects on energy and alertness, can help pinpoint the different times of day when most of us perform our best at specific tasks, from resolving conflicts to thinking creatively.

This is definitely true for me:

When it comes to doing cognitive work, for example, most adults perform best in the late morning, says Dr. Kay. As body temperature starts to rise just before awakening in the morning and continues to increase through midday, working memory, alertness and concentration gradually improve. Taking a warm morning shower can jump-start the process.

—  ‘Why It’s Bad That Smartphones Have Banished Boredom’ (Slashdot)

For one thing, we talk less with people while standing in line.

—  Women continue to earn the majority of advanced degrees, but this is apparently not viewed as a problem

Professor Mark J. Perry sees a problem.

… But don’t expect any concern about the fact that men have increasingly become the second sex in higher education.  The concern about gender imbalances will remain extremely selective, and will only focus on cases when women, not men, are underrepresented.

December 6, 2011

Colleges urged ‘to get creative in improving racial diversity’

by Grace

For some time now colleges have had the goal of building diverse student bodies, but have been somewhat hampered by guidelines prohibiting use of race as a “decisive factor’ in admissions.  Now, with new guidelines issued by the Obama administration, colleges (and K-12 public schools) have been urged to get creative in improving racial diversity.

Like the former Bush administration guidance, the new documents advise schools to use race-neutral policies if possible. If those prove insufficient, however, the new guidance states that a school “may consider a student’s race as a ‘plus factor’ (among other, nonracial considerations) to achieve its compelling interests” in diversity.

The documents pay little attention to the thrust of a widely noted 2007 plurality opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts in a 5-4 Supreme Court decision invalidating integration programs adopted by school boards in Louisville, Ky., and Seattle.

The chief justice took a highly skeptical view of race-conscious enrollment policies, even those intended for benign purposes such as promoting diversity. “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race,” he wrote.

Racial quotas are back on the table.

The contrast with the Bush guidelines interpreting the same three cases is stark. Where the Bush administration’s letter in 2008 states, “Quotas are impermissible,” the 2011 version says “an institution may permissibly aim to achieve a critical mass of underrepresented students.” Even in addressing the same principles, the framework is practically reversed.

Bush guidelines: “Before using race, there must be a serious good faith consideration of workable race-neutral alternatives.”

Obama guidelines: “Institutions are not required to implement race-neutral approaches if, in their judgment, the approaches would be unworkable.”

More minorities will gain admittance to college.

Ada Meloy, general counsel for the American Council on Education, which represents 1,800 universities and colleges, predicted that educators would immediately begin to pursue ways to draw more racial minorities, as the new guidelines would ease fears of legal challenge.

This news might serve as a reminder to consider using strategic race selection for college admissions.

July 6, 2011

Strategic race selection for college admissions

by Grace

Is it ethical for a student to pick and choose the racial identity that will grant the most advantage in the college admissions game?  This question is important in light of recently revised race and ethnicity reporting requirements for college applicants.

The change has made it easier for students to claim a multiracial identity — highlighting those parts of their backgrounds they might want to bring to the fore and disregarding others…

A recent NY Times story featured a prime example of strategic race selection in the person of Natasha Scott, a high school graduate with a black father and an Asian mother.  In an environment where Asians are ORMs (Over-Represented Minority) and blacks are URMs (Under-Represented Minority), checking the Asian box on her college applications could have lowered her chances of admission.  She grappled with her choices, and in the end she chose to identify herself only as black to the colleges to which she applied.  While some applauded her decision as smart, others like the MIT Admissions Counselor who posted on this CollegeConfidential thread would say that she “lied for perceived strategic advantage”.

Many scholarships are tied to racial or ethnic identity.  The National Achievement Scholarship Program for Black students and the National Hispanic Recognition Program (NHRP) are just two examples.

Well, then, what is a student to do?  Here are some pulls from the article that shed light on factors that might influence students.

  • The onus of determining racial makeup is almost entirely on the students; the colleges do not typically seek out guidance counselors or other adults in the students’ lives for corroboration.
  • … at Rice … an applicant’s racial identification can become an admissions game changer.
  • “From an academic standpoint … they may all look alike,” said Chris Muñoz, vice president for enrollment at Rice since 2006. “That’s when we might go and say, ‘This kid has a Spanish surname. Let’s see what he wrote about.’ Right or wrong, it can make a difference.
  • Emory, like other colleges, was acting at least in part to ensure a sizable African-American student population, which the college’s leaders consider an institutional priority.
  • When asked for advice by an applicant weighing whether to identify as multiracial, Mr. White, the counselor from New Jersey, said, “…  If they’re Caucasian and African-American, I’d let them know that it would probably be beneficial to put yourself down as African-American or multiracial.”
  • When Mr. Muñoz was asked if, within the multiracial pool, there is a hierarchy of sorts for getting an edge in the admissions process … Not in an intentional way, but it’s just the reality….“It’s part of, what’s the story? How underrepresented is this group on campus?
  • “I think that when you’re a stressed out high school senior, you’ll do anything that’s legal to get into college,” 

It’s a dysfunctional system.  Here’s Roger Clegg:

I think our condemnation then and now should be more concentrated on the racially discriminatory system itself rather than on those who tried or try to game it.

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