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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

I Guess The Times Can Get Away With This

In today's editorial on affirmative action and the Michigan case, the Times delivers this:

The exact basis of the administration's opposition is unclear. But it would not be surprising if its brief were to argue that diversity can be achieved without explicitly taking race into account. If it does, it may cite a program in Mr. Bush's home state that requires the University of Texas to accept the top 10 percent of students from each graduating high school class.

That approach is necessarily flawed since its success depends on perpetuating a system of largely segregated secondary schools.

Emphasis added. OK, let me be the first to ask - why? If public schools were more integrated, the Times seems to be saying that minority students would be under-represented in the top 10%. And that is because...

Guess 1: Although the school is integrated, the minorities will be found disproportionately at the lower end of the socio-economic range, and can't be expected to compete;

Guess 2: I'm out of guesses.

Well, Guess 1 may not be crazy, depending on how the school integration is achieved. However, if these students can not compete effectively at the high school level, one wonders whether they will be able to hold their own in college. If integration at the high school level fails, as the Times seems to presume it will, why will it succeed at the next level? Well, perhaps one does not wonder - I am not at all sure what the Times is saying here, but I am pretty sure I disagree with it.

UPDATE: OK, here is a Jack Balkin tidbit on the Ten Percent Solution:

The ten percent plan has its share of problems. First, it doesn't work in states that are not strongly de facto segregated in secondary education.

Here is a WaPo editorial from last fall:

The top-10 rule, if accompanied by aggressive recruiting and retention programs, will tend to promote diversity as long as America's public schools remain segregated.

Well, the WaPo editorial was annoying for other reasons. Let me strafe two excerpts:

Most striking, in this conservative state where affirmative action opponents won a first major victory, is that the goal of ethnic and racial diversity continues to be almost universally cherished.

I am surprised at their surprise. Plenty of (Most? Almost all?) quota opponents fully support real progress. But their surprise continues:

even John Cornyn, the Republican attorney general who is now running, with considerable help from President Bush, for the U.S. Senate, embraces diversity as a legitimate public goal.

Cornyn talks on the campaign trail about his opposition to affirmative action and his belief in "colorblind" standards. But in an interview he said he also supports the 10 percent rule as "one part of a plan to help put minorities into public universities." "I'm glad for that," Cornyn says. "Just in terms of the future of our state and potential workforce, and the human potential that would be lost if we didn't do it, I think it's critical."
[And Cornyn goes on to win the election, BTW]

And, last irritant, on the subject of more aggressive minority recruitment:

...the university, after the first disappointing year, designated 70 high schools that weren't sending students to campus and reached out to them with the Longhorn Scholars program -- offering free tuition, mentoring, advising, tutoring and other benefits.

Officially the program isn't affirmative action because, officials said, the 70 schools were chosen based on income; but nearly all of them have student bodies that are nearly all black and Hispanic.

Pause. Financial aid based on income? What will Texas come up with next?

MORE: This Harvard "Civil Rights Project" book is interesting. No I just need to read it.

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