A Great Comment on Affirmative Action

Discussion in 'Race Relations/Racism' started by IanC, Nov 21, 2009.

  1. IanC
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    IanC Gold Member

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    An Academic Defense of Affirmative Action [Roger Clegg]


    That's what Insider Higher Ed treats us to today — in an interview with James Sterba, professor of philosophy at Notre Dame and author of a new book, Affirmative Action for the Future. My posted comments:

    1. Some kinds of “affirmative action” are uncontroversial, as a matter of law or policy, like taking positive steps to ensure no discrimination, or recruiting far and wide to ensure the best possible pool of candidates. But affirmative discrimination — favoring some over others because of race — assuredly is controversial.

    2. In this interview, at least, the author does not seem to be very forthcoming in acknowledging that he is defending such discrimination. He is also wrong in calling the various ballot propositions banning it deceptive, and he is being deceptive in suggesting that they banned all affirmative action, since they did not (see point one).

    3. Of the three justifications he gives for affirmative action, the first does not involve discrimination, and the second (his favorite, apparently, based on his answer to the last question) is legally a nonstarter, since the Supreme Court has repeatedly rejected general, societal discrimination as an excuse for new, improved discrimination. The diversity rationale has Justice O’Connor’s expiration date on it, and may fall before that, since it is dubious legally and based on flimsy sociological evidence. And do we really want to use race as a proxy for what experiences and viewpoints someone brings to a campus?

    4. But even if you think there are some benefits to affirmative discrimination, one must weigh them against the undeniable costs of such discrimination, and of course there is no mention of them here: It is personally unfair, passes over better qualified students, and sets a disturbing legal, political, and moral precedent in allowing racial discrimination; it creates resentment; it stigmatizes the so-called beneficiaries in the eyes of their classmates, teachers, and themselves, as well as future employers, clients, and patients; it fosters a victim mindset, removes the incentive for academic excellence, and encourages separatism; it compromises the academic mission of the university and lowers the overall academic quality of the student body; it creates pressure to discriminate in grading and graduation; it breeds hypocrisy within the school; it encourages a scofflaw attitude among college officials; it mismatches students and institutions, guaranteeing failure for many of the former; it papers over the real social problem of why so many African Americans and Latinos are academically uncompetitive; and it gets states and schools involved in unsavory activities like deciding which racial and ethnic minorities will be favored and which ones not, and how much blood is needed to establish group membership. In an increasingly multiethnic and multiracial society, we cannot embrace a legal regime that sorts people according to skin color and what country their ancestors came from, and treats some better and others worse depending on what box they have checked.
     
  2. IanC
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    IanC Gold Member

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    the interview Roger Clegg was responding to-----

    'Affirmative Action for the Future'
    November 18, 2009
    While the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the consideration of race and ethnicity in college admissions, the future of affirmative action is far from certain. Some states have barred it and critics continue to look for ways to challenge it. In his new book, Affirmative Action for the Future (Cornell University Press), James P. Sterba offers a defense of affirmative action. Sterba is a professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame and his analysis mixes philosophical and legal arguments. Via e-mail, he responded to questions about his book.

    Q: How do you define affirmative action?

    A: Affirmative action is a policy of favoring qualified women, minority, or economically disadvantaged candidates over qualified men, nonminority or economically advantaged candidates respectively with the immediate goals of outreach, remedying discrimination, or achieving diversity, and the ultimate goals of attaining a colorblind (racially just), a gender-free (sexually just) and equal opportunity (economically just) society.

    Q: How vulnerable is affirmative action in higher education today?

    A: The constitutionality of affirmative action in higher education has been endorsed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Bakke (1978) and then 25 years later even more firmly by a much more conservative U.S. Supreme Court in Grutter (2003). So affirmative action in higher education is not vulnerable at all from the courts. It has, however, been shown to be vulnerable to deceptively designed referendums as in California (Proposition 209) and Michigan (Proposition 2). When people in California were asked whether they would still favor Proposition 209 if it outlawed all affirmative action programs for women and minorities, support for 209 dropped to 30 percent while those opposed rose to 56 percent. But deceptively designed Proposition 209 was the referendum that legally banned affirmative action programs for women and minorities in California!

    Q: Why do you distinguish in the book between "outreach," "remedial" and "diversity" affirmative action?

    A: Outreach affirmative action has the goal of searching out qualified women, minority or economically disadvantaged candidates who would otherwise not know about or apply for the available positions, but then hire or accept only those who are actually the most qualified.

    Remedial affirmative action attempts to remedy discrimination. Here, there are two possibilities. First, a remedial affirmative action program can be designed simply to put an end to an existing discriminatory practice, and create, possibly for the first time in a particular setting, a truly nondiscriminatory playing field. Second, a remedial affirmative action program can attempt to compensate for past discrimination and the effects of that discrimination.

    Diversity affirmative action has the goal of diversity, where the pursuit of diversity is, in turn, justified either in terms of certain educational benefits it provides, or in terms of its ability to legitimately create a more effective workforce in such areas as policing or community relations, or in terms of achieving equal opportunity. Here it might even be said that the affirmative action candidates are, in fact, the most the most qualified candidates overall, since the less diverse candidates would not be as qualified.

    Q: Do you view the moral arguments you make and the legal arguments you make as distinct? Which are more important to you?

    A: I do see the legal and moral arguments for affirmative action as distinct, but sometimes they are intertwined. For example, showing that the U.S. Supreme Court has always interpreted diversity affirmative action to be in accord with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides both moral and legal support for this form of affirmative action because these fundamental U.S. laws are at the same time also taken to be morally justified.

    Q: How is the success of some Asian American groups in higher education changing the debates on affirmative action?

    A: The success of some Asian American groups is a proven success of affirmative action. At the time of Bakke (1978) members of these groups did receive affirmative action. Today they no longer need affirmative action in order to be enrolled in top-flight colleges and university in sufficient numbers to bring the benefits of diversity. If affirmative action continues for members of minority groups who are still disadvantaged and steps are also taken to improve the still inferior K-12 educational systems that service these groups, in the not too distant future affirmative action as we know it will come to an end.

    Q: Do you think opponents of affirmative action can be convinced to change their views?

    A: Most opponents of affirmative action can be convinced to change their minds because they have formed their opinion about affirmative action knowing no more than half the facts and half the arguments that are relevant to an assessment of the practice. Once they get a fuller picture of what is relevant to an assessment of the affirmative action, they are confronted with good reasons to change their view. For example, once opponents do a comparative evaluation of diversity affirmative action against two other preference programs in higher education – legacy preference and athletic preference – each of which is twice the usual size of the college or university affirmative action program, it is difficult for them not to see the superior moral and educational justification of diversity affirmative action.

    Q: Why is affirmative action important today?

    A: My book begins by chronicling study after study showing present day racial and sexual discrimination in the U.S. Since direct government action against this continuing discrimination is both sporadic and weak, affirmative action programs still remain one of the more effective tools for undermining the racial and sexual prejudice that fuels this discrimination, thereby helping to diminish its frequency and severity.
     
  3. IanC
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    IanC Gold Member

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    I know that is way more than most people want to read. here is the one section that especially struck me as being important.

    outstanding!
     
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  4. IanC
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    IanC Gold Member

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    I'm curious. are there any minorities out there that are proud to have been beneficiaries of AA? do you tell lots of people that you wouldn't have been picked if it weren't for AA? or is AA considered something that the other guy got, I earned my spot.

    are there any minorities out there that see AA as a lucky opportunity? why not take it as long as it's there, right?

    I can totally see collecting AA but I wouldn't be proud of it.
     
  5. CurveLight
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    CurveLight BANNED

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    That paragraph is guilty of what the author addressed in this question:

    Q: Do you think opponents of affirmative action can be convinced to change their views?

    A: Most opponents of affirmative action can be convinced to change their minds because they have formed their opinion about affirmative action knowing no more than half the facts and half the arguments that are relevant to an assessment of the practice. Once they get a fuller picture of what is relevant to an assessment of the affirmative action, they are confronted with good reasons to change their view. For example, once opponents do a comparative evaluation of diversity affirmative action against two other preference programs in higher education – legacy preference and athletic preference – each of which is twice the usual size of the college or university affirmative action program, it is difficult for them not to see the superior moral and educational justification of diversity affirmative action.
     
  6. IanC
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    IanC Gold Member

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    thanks for reading the articles. I actually am for AA as long as it is tailored to the individual, not a straight quota as universities and such have.

    anyone who is against legacy and athletic preferences has my support. although the legacy cohort has much better qualifications than either the minority or athletic cohort.
     
  7. JenyEliza
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    JenyEliza Princess of Rhetoric

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    Yep. Easy to take freebies. I wouldn't be proud of it though.
     
  8. CurveLight
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    CurveLight BANNED

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    Segregation is still a huge problem.
    Still Separate, Still Unequal: America's Educational Apartheid JONATHAN KOZOL / Harper's Magazine v.311, n.1864 1sep2005


    The hypocrisy on AA is overwhelming and shows the established Peck(ing) order of our society. The Legacy and Athletic forms of AA have existed for as long as the Nation but how many people complained about them?
     
  9. CurveLight
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    That must mean you are not proud of America. Our Nation was built by the "freebies" of many people and cultures.
     
  10. IanC
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    IanC Gold Member

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    I read the first half of your very long article. I am a Canadian so our school funding system is different, school boards get funded by the province (=state) mostly, in a per pupil fashion. racial and class differences are still plainly visible in performance and behaviour. Segregation and white flight are an inevitable consequence of white parents wanting to give their children the best start possible in life. and they pay large sums of money to do it. buying houses in the right neighbourhoods is expensive, and so are private schools. all the while they still pay the lion's share of taxes for schools they don't even use.

    The Coleman Report found out to its surprise that the success of school was much more influenced by the students attending than the school or the money spent. I think the parents and the students need to play a bigger and more competent role in 'diverse' schools. there is no reason that any school can't be safe and successful if the students co-operate. just look at Catholic schools that operate on a mere fraction of public schools.
     

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