Class-Based Affirmative Action

SCOTUS is set to rule on the most recent affirmative action case any day. Is society beyond the need to guarantee diversity in higher education through the use of affirmative action? Are the races keeping up with one another in terms of achievement?

Some say yes, others say no, but one thing is certain -- race-based affirmative action will end at some point because it is only meant to be a temporary solution. Many commenters believe that race-based affirmative action should be replaced with class-based affirmative action. "There is no question that [race-based affirmative action] is a relatively efficient way to make higher education less monochromatic. But sooner or later, racial preferences, which were originally designed to be temporary, will end. Whatever the court decides in the pending case, it is time for college administrators to shift their attention decisively away from racial preferences to an affirmative action based on class."

It's interesting to note that race-based affirmative action doesn't do that much to promote class diversity, but class-based affirmative action would help both racial diversity and class diversity on college campuses. "Racial preferences don’t help all that much in promoting class diversity, because selective colleges heavily favor minorities from middle-class and affluent families; but class-based preferences favor minorities, because blacks and Hispanics are more heavily represented among the poor."

At this point, what we're seeing is that we are schooling ourselves into two different classes. "Students from families in the highest income quintile are now eight times more likely than students in the bottom quintile to enroll in a 'highly selective' college."

Even if SCOTUS decides to end race-based affirmative action, there will likely be class-based admission factors to take its place. "Reversing the long-term trend toward education inequality would be an impressive feat for the Obama administration, which has tried to intelligently reform federal programs that serve low-income students."

NYTimes--Affirmative Reaction

NYTimes--School Ourselves in an Unequal America


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