Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Affirmative Action, Special Program, Asians and Women

The New York Tines has an article here describing programs that attempt to help poor and minority youngsters get into college in states that don’t allow affirmative action.

I think these programs are fine.  They help level the playing field a little, and are not at the expense of anyone.  Nothing wrong with that.

The problem now is that there are so many other kinds of discrimination in college admission.  There have been a number of studies in the last few years documenting the preference that colleges give to male applicants, since their grades and scores tend to be lower than their female counterparts.   Asian students seem to be actively discriminated against in many select schools.  And, of course, there are always the legacy students and athletes.

I was a high school teacher for 37 years, and--honestly--didn't see the difference that an integrated classroom made.  However, I do think there is a compelling societal interest in having women and minorities well represented in the positions of power in this country.  I'm not sure how to get there, but a good start would be to stop discriminating against women and Asians in college acceptance.


  1. I think integrated classrooms do make a difference. My all-white classes tend to be much more complacent in their discussions of race--for instance, when we are discussing Huck Finn--having a few Black kids in the room has I think really helped the white kids think more deeply and consider a little more carefully how they are speaking. And I am happy to say that my school is a lot more socially integrated now than it was ten years ago--let alone when I was in high school! But the college admissions preferences you describe seem to be mostly aimed at producing a balanced student body--not for the benefit of society, but for the benefit of the college itself. This seems reasonable to me. I went to MIT, and when I was there it was 2/3 men. This was not great for the men who did go there, and it certainly made sense for the Institute to give preference to women. If they'd given even more preference to women, I might not have gotten in, but it might have been worth it from their perspective, and the perspective of the students who DID get in. The societal interest is secondary. Of course, if we had more public universities, they would have to consider the societal interest more!

  2. I think we'll disagree on this. Yes, my classes that were integrated did have slightly different discussions, but the real need, I think, it to get minorities and women into positions of power. Hey, look at Elizabeth Warren! Also, the Asian bit is somewhat personal for me, as my daughter-in-law is Chinese and I have two Chinese/Irish grandchildren. It kills me to think that these kids are going to have a harder time getting in than they would if they weren't part Chinese. They've had a hard enough time, as their mother got state 3 breast cancer a couple of years ago. What a brutal disease that is.