Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Up and Down at UM

After the first year of barring race-conscious programs at public universities in Michigan, the local press has begun to examine the fall-out. Basically, the stats are mixed, but the upshot is that minority enrollment shifted to lower-ranked schools, and higher ranked programs are having trouble attracting even qualified minority applicants because their scholarship programs also had to be discontinued. One interesting outcome (though it might be statistical noise) is that minority enrollment dropped even at schools that did not previously use race conscious admissions procedures.

Also, interesting article given the topic: Richard Lempert, David Chambers, & Terry Adams, Michigan's Minority Graduates in Practice: The River Runs Through Law School, 25 L. & Soc. Inquiry 395 (2000). Basically, it surveyed the history of minority Michigan law students admitted under affirmative action programs, in terms of their success after graduation. The results? Under every metric measured, these students performed equal to their White peers.

But remember, they weren't qualified to be there.


The Gaucho Politico said...

Great post. I look forward to reading that article because it would def contradict the sander study. The enrollment shift would be expected and i suspect the publicized loss of race conscious programs has acted as a dampener on aa perceptions of their ability to attend law school.

Anonymous said...

"The results? Under every metric measured, these students performed equal to their White peers."

You are missing one of the major reasons why Affirmative Action is unfair. Unless you have unlimited college acceptances every time you accept a less qualified minority student you are denying a more qualified non-minority that coveted slot.

Just saying that an AA accepted minority graduated from Harvard and became a success is missing that the student rejected would also have been a success and he was more deserving of getting that prestigious appointment.

The white daughter of a single mother whose father was killed in a coal mine has just as much right for that coveted slot as does Senator Obama's son but under current AA guidelines the Obama child would get the spot. That is unfair.

And worse in the big picture the rest of the world is not allowing less superior students into prestigious colleges. We live in a global economy. AA will cause us to fall further behind China, Japan etc.

David Schraub said...

That presumes a key point which the study's conclusion undermines: that AA beneficiaries are less qualified than the persons they replace without AA. But if these men and women in fact perform equally as compared to their White counterparts, that statement, at the very least, is called into question. If we assume (as I think is reasonable) that "merit" in an educational context is more closely attached to "likelihood of success in the real world" than it is to "awesomeness at taking the LSAT", then the study would tell us that these folks are, in fact, equally meritorious to their putative replacement.

There are at least two explanations for how this might be so:

1) Latent racism, biased structures, or unfair disadvantage mean that people of color underperform academically compared to their talent, but when given a chance to flourish, they show their true ability. In this model, AA provides a correction to a bias against fundamentally meritorious candidates, increasing the overall meritocratic nature of the system.

2) The selection process often entails sorting through and selecting amongst equally qualified/meritorious candidates, who all would be predicted to perform equally well in the future. In this model, AA provides a (partial) criterion for selecting amongst equivalent candidates -- a tiebreaker I think is justified by the educational benefits of diversification and the likelihood that "neutral", non-random decisionmaking in such situations tends to bias itself in favor of those who remind the (mostly White) decisionmakers of themselves (mostly White applicants).

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting site that discusses some of what we debated.

A Preference For Truth
Racial quotas are slowly losing their cover.
By Heather Mac Donald