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Hiding the Ball on Affirmative Action

John on April 6, 2010 at 9:00 am

Writing at South Dakota Politics, Ken Blanchard notes a recent court decision in California:

From the Chronicles of Higher Education:

Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow of the California Superior Court for San Francisco County ruled last week that the state bar is not legally obliged to release the data sought by Richard H. Sander, a professor of law at the University of California at Los Angeles, and Joe Hicks, a former governor of the California state bar who is involved in a consortium of affirmative-action researchers organized by Mr. Sander. The two men were joined by the California First Amendment Coalition in their lawsuit, which seeks state-bar data on law students broken down by race and ethnicity.

Here is the question. Affirmative Action is the practice of giving preference to minority candidates in hiring and university admissions. In almost every case, minority status is weighted so heavily that a student who can claim such status can secure admission to the most competitive schools even if his or her test scores and academic record would have automatically disqualified a non-minority applicant.

One of the reasons offered for Affirmative Action is that it will increase the number of lawyers, doctors, etc., who are African American, Hispanic, etc. But does it in fact do that? Students whose academic preparation is modest will often fail when they are placed in the most competitive schools, whereas they might have flourished in a more typical institution. Does Affirmative Action really increase the number of minority students graduating from law schools and entering the legal profession? Or does it rather decrease the number by setting up many promising students for failure in programs for which they are ill-prepared?

Apparently, we’re not allowed to know the answer to that question. That sort of suggests to Ken, and I agree, that the answer isn’t favorable to the program.

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Category: Crime & the Law |

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