Sunday, November 12, 2006

MI Affirmative Action - Not With A Bang, But A Whimper et al

Court Battle Likely on Affirmative Action - Washington Post

Michigan Rejects Affirmative Action, and Backers Sue - New York Times

New Focus on Affirmative Action - Washington Post

In all the excitement of the Republicans losing the control of congress and the senate, there has been nearly no mention of the passing of Proposition 2 in Michigan, that state's version of California's Prop 209, which eliminates the use of racial preferences in public universities and other state agencies.

Recall that the Supreme Court recently upheld the University of Michigan's narrow use of race as one component of the law school's admissions criteria, while also ruling that the university's undergraduate program's broad use of race in admissions went too far. The high court has thus far refused to weigh in on California's law, which has resulted in significant reduction of incoming Blacks at the state's top public schools, UC Berkeley and UCLA. Ironically, no one seemed to care that pre-209 graduation rates for Blacks at these schools was significantly less than Whites and Asians.

Perhaps the distraction of the Republican 'implosion' is not the only reason this vestige of the 1960's went out 'not with a bang, but a whimper', in Michigan. The most overlooked problem of affirmative action in college admissions is its placement of students in competitive academic spotlights, where a race premium cannot see them through to the graduation line. It is only adding insult to injury that when Blacks graduate at lower levels across the board, racism, not preparation, takes the blame.

Despite its promise, affirmative action could be no more than a temporary release to the pent-up demand of highly motivated Blacks, legally barred from educational opportunities since slavery. What it has not done, over the last 40 years, is erase disparities of behaviors and attitudes that have had Black students, on average, under perform Whites, from the much-studied time they first enter grade school. In fact, the proper study of the net effect of raced-based preference programs, under what I call 'affirmative actionomics', reveals a surprising and significant net loss of professional degreed Blacks as the actual result.

Simply put, the unrelenting adherence to the promise of this exhausted remedy is holding back Black progress. Pretending that affirmative action is still the cornerstone solution to Black plight denies Black kids the attention and resources they need, beginning with monies and programs for early age intervention in socialization, critical thinking, preparation, persuasion, and conflict management.

Reversing the effects of discrimination will take a lot more than giving any group extra points for the color of their skin and on the back-end of a compromised K-12 education. This is the same thinking, exhibited by the founding fathers, which initiated and has kept this country off-track from the start.

James C. Collier


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