Affirmative Action Fails Unqualified Minorities

by Lewis Loflin

Dan Slater in The New York Times (March 16, 2013) ask, "WHAT'S more important to how your life turns out: the prestige of the school you attend or how much you learn while you're there? Does the answer to this question change if you are the recipient of affirmative action?" He goes on as usual that affirmative action is there to make up for racism, but the success of Asians for decades proves the racism claim is bunk. It's lack of ability, not racism.

He further asks if using affirmative action places unqualified students in colleges they can't graduate from. The answer is yes and no. It's easy to rig a college class in particular humanities to graduate anyone.

What is impossible to rig are math, science, and technology. One can either do it or not. This is called "mismatch" theory of putting unqualified students based on race into classes they can't pass.

This is much of what the NAACP is demanding in Fairfax County Public Schools. In a college setting professors will be under intense pressure to have the "right" people at graduation. So this throws an aura of suspicion on all non-Asian minorities as getting a free ride on a race quota. California voters passed Prop. 209 in 1996 ending affirmative action racism and the result are in:

Recently, economists from Duke studied the effects of Prop 209, comparing undergraduate graduation rates for blacks, Hispanics and American Indians before and after the ban. In a paper being considered for publication by The Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Duke economists conclude that mismatch effects are strongest for students in so-called STEM majors - science, technology, engineering and math.

These subjects proceed in a more regimented way than the humanities, with each topic and class building on what came before. If you don't properly learn one concept, it's easier to get knocked off track.

The Duke economists say that lower-ranked schools in the University of California system are better at graduating minority students in STEM majors. For example, they conclude that had the bottom third of minority students at Berkeley who hoped to graduate with a STEM major gone to Santa Cruz instead, they would have been almost twice as likely to earn such a degree.

"Prior to California's ban on affirmative action," Peter Arcidiacono, one of the study's authors, told me, "what Berkeley did well was switch relatively ill-prepared minority students out of the sciences and into majors where credentials are relatively less important."

In other words they couldn't rig a math or science class so they went over to subjects they might have rigged to get those "right" people a degree. So how are they going to rig elite high schools to graduate the "right" people in the desired racial proportions if they allow the unqualified in?

As one affirmative action supporter says,

In essence, affirmative action is about how to fairly distribute opportunity after our long history of racial discrimination. Whether it "works" is as much an issue for school administrators as for policy makers. That is, before we tell a student to choose School B over School A, it's worth asking what schools can do to improve the experiences of students, particularly those pursuing STEM majors, who arrive less well prepared.

Being that the vast majority of poor people are white and even they outscore most affluent blacks on every test, why is their opportunity being stripped away? But what if it doesn't work? What does he mean by "improve the experiences of (affirmative action) students" other than special treatment and consideration denied to others? (Or just outright cheating.) How are they going to rig math and science scores to achieve diversity? Perhaps there's more than one answer to two plus two?

In conclusion it's time to end this system a racial jury-rigging and go with merit alone. Our job problems are due to structural economic changes and that is what we must address. Let's end affirmative action racism.

Ref. Does Affirmative Action Do What It Should? by Dan Slater March 16, 2013.


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