Research War on Affirmative Action

Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, September 24, 2012

With the U.S. Supreme Court about to hear arguments in a case that could decide the fate of affirmative action in admissions, a research war has broken out. {snip}

Several studies presented Friday at the Brookings Institution suggested that eliminating the consideration of race would not have as dramatic an effect on minority students as some believe, and that the beneficiaries of affirmative action may in fact achieve less academic success than they would otherwise. {snip}

Yield Rates After a Ban

One of the studies explored the impact on the yield rate—the proportion of admitted students who enroll—of black, Latino and Native American students to the University of California after the state barred the consideration of race in admissions. Minority enrollments fell after voters adopted the ban, in part because greater proportions of white and Asian applicants, on average, have the academic and other credentials required for admission.

But the paper focused on a subset of minority students: those who gained admission after the ban on affirmative action. Many observers at the time predicted that these students would be less likely to enroll, as they would perceive the system to be hostile, and news articles quoted minority students to this effect.

But a paper by Kate Antonovics, an economist at the University of California at San Diego, and Richard Sander, a law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, found that the ban on affirmative action didn’t produce “chilling effects,” but actually produced “warming effects” on the likelihood of minority students’ accepting offers of admission.

The paper examined the yield rates by students in the three years after Proposition 209 (the ban) took effect. Across the system, the yield rate increased by about 10 percent. {snip}


The fear Antonovics expressed is that minority students might not be enrolling at highly competitive institutions at which they would be a good academic match. Another kind of “mismatch” has also been the focus of much research on affirmative action in recent years—and that idea (hotly debated) is that minority students who are admitted to better institutions because of affirmative action may end up with lower academic achievement as a result. (Sander, who helped organize the Brookings program, has been a leading proponent of the idea.)

On Friday, Doug Williams, chair of economics at the University of the South, presented a paper arguing that law schools provide solid evidence for the existence of mismatch. He said that because of the requirement that lawyers pass a bar exam, there is an independent measure of successful learning in law school. {snip}

There has long been a gap between black and white law graduates on bar passage rates, he noted. Currently, about 97 percent of white law school graduates pass the bar, with 92 percent passing on the first try. For black law graduates, the figures are 78 and 61 percent, respectively. But Williams said that these gaps are partly explained by the differing academic credentials of black and white law students, and so by themselves don’t back mismatch theory.

But in comparing minority law graduates of comparable academic preparation who enroll in more or less competitive law schools, Williams said that those (from among those with comparable academic credentials) who enroll in the bottom two tiers of law schools pass the bar at a rate that is 14 percentage points higher than that of those who enroll at the top law schools. {snip}


The debate will likely continue Thursday when a coalition of social science groups—the American Educational Research Association, the American Sociological Association, the American Statistical Association, the Association for the Study of Higher Education, the Law and Society Association and the Linguistic Society of America—hold a briefing on research those organizations cited in their brief to the Supreme Court encouraging the justices to uphold the legality of the consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions.

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  • B

    From my perspective all this research about yeild rates is absurd. This is a simple question for the Supreme Court. Does racial discrimination violate the constitution, yes or no?

    • The Worlds Scapegoat

       The constitution ceased to exist at the outbreak of the civil war.

      BTW. The constitution is only for minorities, especially those who were not born here, not for whites.

      • Abraham Lincoln, the first great usurper. Booth was years late.

      •  Dishonest Abe did all he could to attack the Constitution. James Polk was so much more deserving of praise, and he’s underrated too. He should be on some currency IMO.

    • Defiant White

      “Does racial discrimination violate the constitution, yes or no?”


      Yes.  It does.  Did you miss the XIV Amendment, Section 1?  It was in all the papers back in 1868.

      “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

      Or did you mean to write “Does AFFIRTMATIVE ACTION violate the constitution, yes or no?”

      Two points:

      1)  Traditionally, the Supreme Court has held that it does not as long as the government has a legitimate reason (“this is the only way to correct pact discrimination”) and it’s applied very narrowly.

      2)  This specifically deals with enrollment and may or may not change how other entities do things.

    • jedsrael

      THEY SAY:

      “I’m Lovin’ It”: Fast-Food Logos ‘Imprinted’ in Children’s Brains, Study Says

      A study has found that fast-food logos are branded into the minds of children from an early age.

      WE KNOW:

      “I’m Lovin’ It”:  Embracing Diversity ‘Imprinted’ in Children’s Brains, Study Says

      A study has found that Diversity Leadership images are branded into the minds of children from an early age.

    • AmericanTaxPayerNoMore

      “violate” – That’s obvious.  Clearly it does but forget that ’cause The Constitution doesn’t matter here (if it did, AA would not exist).  The question should be, why are White Men being forced to pay for things they did not do?

      Other questions are:  How does skin color and/or gender make one capable?  Why is color/gender more important than having the best person possible do the job?  Why is it okay to discriminate against White Men but not okay to discriminate against non-whites or women?  There’s lots of questions to be asked here when it comes to this blatantly illegal “law”.

      Although I said The Constitution ‘does not matter’, your question should be answered ’cause it is a good one.  BUT, “The Supreme Court” has, many times, betrayed our Founding Fathers’ and so, I hold no hope.

  • I wonder how many of the affirmative action admits actually graduate?I think affirmative action should be scrapped and all applicants need to have taken a list of core courses and have a minimum g.p.a. and a minimum set SAT or ACT scores.  Another method would be to do what the University of Texas does and admits the top 10% of all high school students that apply. These include students at low income schools as well as those from the best school districts in the state.

    • humptydumpty

      What about having affirmative Action “students” pick a major and show up four years later to campus to pick up their diploma in that major, with a small aa printed in the upper left hand corner to alert prospective employers. Of course, there’d be a full weekend of hijinks on campus for the graduates complete with rides and wonderful speechifying and all to go along with the graduation excercises. 

      • jedsrael

        More proof of how our racist White privilege is DISPROPORTIONATELY harming the beloved community of color:

        Minority kids are less likely to be buckled up, study says

        “This is not some failing of a particular race,” says Victor Garcia of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, a cofounder of Buckle Up. “What it is is African Americans and Hispanics are disproportionately in lower socioeconomic groups.”

        Watch for the next report to say that “the Whites have failed to adequately care for other groups by neglecting to lift them up from their lower socioeconomic status”.

        Will we ever see a study that complains about blacks “disproportionately” filling the NBA teams, or of J-words “disproportionately” overrepresenting themselves in positions of power and influence?

        If it is true that blacks are 13% of the population (why does it look like they are 80%?), then shouldn’t they only commit 13% of the crime so as to adequately “reflect” Diversity?

    • Another method would be to do what the University of Texas does and admits the top 10% of all high school students that apply. 

      Crap schools graduate crap students with high GPAs. They usually don’t succeed at college. The few that are actually fair to good students try to find a way better school where there become just mediocre.

    • The Texas scheme (up for SCOTUS review this term) is a dud because you can be as dumb as a box of rocks and still graduate in the top 10% of Taco High School or Martin Luther King High School. 
      I didn’t graduate in the top 10% of my high school class.

  • jedsrael

    Just saw a frightening new trend in TV anti White agitprop.

    Marriot Courtyards commercial:  very dark skinned, dark haired non White, not n’gro, but either West Asian non Oriental, or Mexican sans indigenousness, and he was dressed successfully and sitting down in probably first class airplane seats.  The story was about the troubles of travelling,until you get to your motel room.  He had the aisle seat, and of course, the nusiance was a White woman with a very White, blonde baby who just had to push her way into her seat by the window, obviously disturbing the rest of our sacred Diversity.

    I haven’t seen a White father and White sons on TV in ages.  When I do, they’ll be neo confederate ku kluxing nazis, of coure.  Or celebrating the son’s coming out of the closet into the freedom and liberation of gaydom.

    • AmericanTaxPayerNoMore

      I sure wish you and others could define your opponents by other names than those of “neo confederate ku kluxing nazis” and other such misnomers.

      Confederate is a Country and Confederates are A People who worked hard to see their Country Prosper and Confederate Soldiers are The Great Men who Fought, Killed and Died in order to Preserve it and you should be ashamed to use their Great Name in your pursuit of an insult.

      “neo” – I don’t know what that means so I can’t answer to this.

       Ku Klux Klan – It sure would help if you could separate The Klan from the klan.  Yes, I defend them.  The South was robbed and all those Beloved White Men of Mine had left was each other.  Let them be please.

      Nazi’s – It’s time to let them be too.  They only did what any other Country Man would do.  They fought, killed and died for their own.  I will.  I find it Natural and I don’t think I’m alone on that front.  And, there’s been a great deal of lies told about them too so that should also always be taken into account.  Let’s just let them be and instead, focus on what’s before us.

  • Defiant White

    When the researchers interviewed coloreds, one of the most common sentiments was that when a school dropped affirmative action programs it sent a message that coloreds weren’t welcome there.

    Just shows the immaturity and dullness of the average black:  Since you’re not gibbing me school gibbsme that means that you don’t think I’m a unique, precious little snowflake . . .

  • Diamond_Lil

    A few days ago, I spoke to an obvious Affirmative Action graduate (Latino) who had been teaching high school 11th grade American Literature in LA for 15 years.  I inquired as to his curriculum.  He stated that he looked in the American Lit textbook and could find nothing that interested him, so he’s been reading a non-literary 4th grade level paperback to his students.  I stated with surprise that with Halloween coming up he never though of teaching the spooky trilogy of “The Raven,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” and “The Fall of the House of Usher” contained in the text (along with Mark Twain, Flannery O’Conner, F. Scott Fitzgerald along with a host of famous black and Latino authors whose novels and stories mirror the themes taught in 11th grade U.S. History)  He asked me (and these were his exact words), “Tell me again who wrote that.”  I was incredulous.   IT’S POE, EDGAR ALLAN POE!  How in the world someone gets through k-12 public school, studies and graduates with an English degree, then obtains a single subject credential in English, is assigned to teach11th grade American Literature and does not know who Poe is simply astounds me.  Then again, this is LA.  The Latinos have destroyed public education here. 

    I would like to see a study on the impact of Affirmative Action graduates, particularly those in the education field.

    • AmericanTaxPayerNoMore

      I learned about Poe in the Ninth Grade (I was in Advanced English).  The Tell Tale Heart is one of my favorites.

      • Diamond_Lil

        The Tell Tale Heart is usually taught in 10th grade in CA.  Great tale.  Yet, still they don’t get it or hear it here these days in Socal.  I learned about POE in the 4th grade at my hick-country school in the south when I read The Raven.  I was enchanted as a middle school student about his life and his lost love and his addiction that permeated his writings and haunted him until his death.  Big fan of literature ever since.

        • AmericanTaxPayerNoMore

          I don’t remember Fourth Grade.

          I like Literature too but as of the past ten plus years, all I can think about is us and our Country.  I don’t mean to change the subject but I am seriously worried.  What are “We” going to do?  Globalization has destroyed us and all I can think about is, how do we reverse it?

          This is a problem for me because unabated greed and want for complete control is the reason but how do you get those who seek it to turn against it? 

          • Diamond_Lil

            See John Locke.

    • crystal evans

      It is no secret that the least qualified students are the ones that major in education. I think this is the reason why Teach for America was born to give those who graduated with a high gpa and with a non education related major the opportunity to teach. Granted Teach for America alumni leave teaching after completing their 2 yr contract to teach in an inner city school.

    • Diamond Lil, you should have mentioned the book “Men of Corn”, written by Miguel Asturias of Guatemala, and a Nobel Prize laureate, in literature. Your Latino teacher wouldn’t know who he is, I’d wager. Or you can always bring up “Don Quixote”, by the 17th century Spaniard, Miguel Cervantes. Let’s see if the Latino teacher would know who HE was.

  • JohnEngelman

    Corporations often pay lip service to affirmative action, but they know that if they do not get the most qualified applicants their competitors will. 
    When a university admits unqualified blacks and Hispanics, and they drop out or flunk out,  it still gets to keep their tuition money. 

    • crystal evans

      Some of these students should be in a technical school where they can learn a trade and make decent money. Or enter a union apprenticeship and they will make more money than most college graduates when they become journeymen.

  • When whites become the minority, will we be allowed to have benefits like special scholarships, rewards for skin color like affirmative action, and all those things minorities get? No? Oh well, I didn’t think we would.

    • Diamond_Lil

      I just reread about the 12 year-old being drowned in scalding hot water in South Africa after his mom and dad were murdered.  A precursor for the U.S.  I wouldn’t be worrying so much about benefits than the longevity of you and your offspring.

      • AmericanTaxPayerNoMore

        Head for the Hills.  There you will find food, water, wood and anything else you need to survive.  And the best part, we’ll find each other.

  • AmericanTaxPayerNoMore

    Affirmative Action is Illegal.  The Government has No Right to dictate to anyone who they must hire based on whatever criteria they dictate and the colleges can discriminate as much as they want as long as they don’t accept any sort of Public Funding but since they do, they can’t practice Affirmative Action.

    As My Husband says:  The Founding Fathers’ are spinning so fast, they could light up the whole f’n Country.

  • AmericanTaxPayerNoMore

    And this is yet one more Reason for Revolution.

    And your Founding Fathers’ ask, for How Long and for How Far will The White Men allow themselves to be pushed out of their Birth Right?

  • B

    Exactly Frank. The court  needs to answer the simple question if racial discrimination is legal or not for if a college can choose it’s customers (students) based upon race then a restaurant or any other business should be able to choose its customers based upon race if so desired.

  • Ed_NY

    I would never hire a black lawyer or seek treatment from a black doctor.  In fact I will never patronize any black for any reason with the exception of whenI have no other option.  Such as DMV clerks, police officers, census takers or any other unqualified token that is forced on me and then I cringe at the lack of professionalism and their lack of ability.

  • Discrimination is OK if it is the name of diluting evil white/asian student bodies with vibrant and benevolent diversity.

  • However, if a school is not publicly funded by any means (virtually no institutions today are) they have the right to discriminate as they please. The idea of private entities not being able to legally discriminate according whatever criteria they fancy is ridiculous. It is important to understand this distinction. 

  • AmericanTaxPayerNoMore

    I don’t think that’s gonna stop the Corporations from outsourcing and importing their cheap labor though.  I think a Law, something very clear like, ‘all Americans must be employed (with American wages, our wages are depressed) first before they can seek help elsewhere’ might help though.

    Of course, my hard core Americanism will never be adopted.

  • AmericanTaxPayerNoMore

    I don’t see why not.  We didn’t drop from the sky so as far as I’m concerned, we too deserve to live and have a home of our own.