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James Taranto on Affirmative Action and Public Opinion Polling:

James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal.com website has written an interesting response to my posts on affirmative action and public opinion polling (see here and here).

Taranto acknowledges that whether or not survey respondents support affirmative action policies depends on how the questions are worded. Strong majorities will say they support "affirmative action," but reject "discrimination" and "racial preferences." This pattern occurs not just in polls, but also on in referenda on anti-affirmative action ballot questions, with propositions banning "preferences" winning in California, Michigan, and Washington, and one banning "affirmative action" getting defeated in Houston.

However, Taranto claims that the "affirmative action" wording is misleading because "changing 'racial preferences' to 'affirmative action' is a change of meaning, not just wording. 'Affirmative action' is not only a euphemism for discrimination in favor of minorities; it is also a blanket term that encompasses other, less controversial policies." For example, Taranto quotes Justice Kennedy's concurring opinion in the Seattle school case that set off this debate, as an illustration of "non-preference" affirmative action policies:

School boards may pursue the goal of bringing together students of diverse backgrounds and races through other means [than racial preferences in admissions], including strategic site selection of new schools; drawing attendance zones with general recognition of the demographics of neighborhoods; allocating resources for special programs; recruiting students and faculty in a targeted fashion; and tracking enrollments, performance, and other statistics by race.

Taranto's argument is not without some merit. But there are two major problems with it. First, as I pointed out in my initial post on this issue, using the term "preferences" is also misleading because it will lead many voters to think of traditional invidious discrimination against minorities rather than of remedial affirmative action preferences.

Second, most of the supposedly nonpreferential programs listed by Taranto and Justice Kennedy are in fact themselves racial preferences. If, for example, school boards "pursue the goal of bringing together students of diverse . . . races" by trying to increase the percentage of minorities at certain schools, they are still intentionally taking race into account in their decisionmaking and still trying to ensure that the schools in question have some particular percentage of minority students. Similarly, "strategic site selection" of schools based on the racial composition of the surrounding neighborhood is surely a form of race-based decisionmaking that advantages areas with one type of racial composition at the expense of others with a different type. The fact that officials are not using formal racial classifications but are instead using "facially neutral" means does not change the essential nature of what they are doing. Racial balancing cloaked in seemingly neutral language is still racial balancing. As I explained in this post on Texas' "ten percent" college admissions plan:

[I]f it is morally wrong to aim for a given racial balance in a state university student body by using explicit racial preferences, why is it not equally wrong to intentionally try to achieve the same effect through indirect, facially "neutral" means? In the days of Jim Crow, southern states often used facially neutral policies such as literacy tests, poll taxes, and peonage laws to disadvantage blacks. Few today would argue that these policies were somehow morally superior to those Jim Crow laws that discriminated against blacks through explicit racial classifications. If, as critics of affirmative action claim, explicit affirmative action preferences are morally wrong for the same reason that Jim Crow laws were wrong, then "facially neutral" affirmative action systems such as the Texas ten percent are wrong for the same reasons that the facially neutral means of propping up Jim Crow were.

I do not contend that the majority of voters are clearly in favor of affirmative action. Rather, my view is that many of them don't know much about the issue, have not thought about it carefully, and therefore have unclear and often internally contradictory views. This is not in any way unusual, and is a natural consequence of voters' rational ignorance about public policy, which extends to a wide range of issues including some that are far more important than affirmative action. For that reason, I also question Taranto's claim that the voters in the California, Michigan, and Washington referenda reached a clear decision indicative of their true opinions because "they had the opportunity to hear both sides of the argument." While it is certainly true that they had the "opportunity" to hear both sides (something that they also had during the previous 25 years of intense public debate over affirmative action), it is unlikely that very many actually used that opportunity to study the issue in any detail.

UPDATE: Taranto has a rejoinder to this post here. I would first like to apologize to James Taranto for incorrectly referring to him as "Jim." I have corrected this in the original post. However, I remain unpersuaded by his substantive arguments.

In his new post, Taranto claims that initiatives that ban "discrimination" or "preferences" do not mislead voters by leading them to think of traditional discrimination against minorities because they "are intended to apply, to both forms of discrimination." It is true that they are intended to do that, but an unsophisticated voter reading the text is more likely to think of traditional discrimination when seeing the word "preference" or "discrimination" than of affirmative action.

Taranto also notes that his argument "is not that the rewritten language was deceptive but that it changed the meaning of the proposed law by expanding it to encompass nondiscriminatory forms of 'affirmative action.'" I don't think that this distinction undermines my point that questions banning "discrimination" or preferences will lead voters to think of traditional discrimination against minorities. Moreover, as I explain in my post above, the "nondiscriminatory" forms of affirmative action Taranto refers to are in fact preferences themselves.

dre (mail):
Issue studied in detail:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

MLK Jr.

"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discrimination on the basis of race,"

CJ Roberts
8.18.2007 6:24pm
DG:
People do understand the issue and they simply want more subtle solutions. College admissions counsellors using admissions quotas is offensive to most. Extra tutoring or summer programs for minority students is far less odious to the mass of people. Its a question of fairness. One can argue that its all the same, but most would disagree. "Affirmative Actions" is such a wide swath, it means different things to different people. More narrowly tailored questions are more useful.
8.18.2007 6:53pm
DRJ (mail):
I do not contend that the majority of voters are clearly in favor of affirmative action. Rather, my view is that many of them don't know much about the issue, have not thought about it carefully, and therefore have unclear and often internally contradictory views.
This sounds like you think most people are politically ignorant, especially Texans. Are you really P. T. Barnum?
8.18.2007 7:00pm
Shertaugh:

"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discrimination on the basis of race,"

CJ Roberts


Well. There you have it. The Supreme Court, per 5 justices, has declared that racial disrimination is dead . . . . It must be, or there'd still be some lawful need for, say, affirmative action.

So all together now. "Kum Ba Ya, Boy, Kum Ba Yah."
8.18.2007 7:06pm
Ilya Somin:
This sounds like you think most people are politically ignorant, especially Texans. Are you really P. T. Barnum?

Yes, most people are indeed politically ignorant. The data overwhelmingly proves it. No, there is no evidence that it's significnatly worse in Texas than elsewhere.
8.18.2007 8:09pm
A Texan:
The argument that the difference was the ballot language still stumbles pretty badly when one considers the differences in electorate demographics on the ballot initiatives.

The 2000 Census demographic data:

City of Houston: 49.27% white, 25.31% black.
State of California: 79.75% white, 7.65% black.
State of Michigan: 83.05% white, 14.92% black.
State of Washington: 88.64% white, 4.12% black.
8.18.2007 8:29pm
Owen (mail):
Ilya,

First, as I pointed out in my initial post on this issue, using the term "preferences" is also misleading because it will lead many voters to think of traditional invidious discrimination against minorities rather than of remedial affirmative action preferences.

I disagree. Results from polls for or against "racial preferences" mirror those that describe allegedly remedial programs without actually using the term "affirmative action." For example, the Kaiser Family Foundation's poll (taken in 2001) asked:

"In order to give minorities more opportunity, do you believe race or ethnicity should be a factor when deciding who is hired, promoted, or admitted to college, or that hiring, promotions, and college admissions should be based strictly on merit and qualifications other than race or ethnicity?"

The result? 92% of Americans said "should be based strictly on merit and qualifications other than race/ethnicity." That included 86% of blacks. The language clearly omits any racist intent, and you're getting similar results to "racial preference" polling.
8.18.2007 8:52pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I would agree that most people are politically ignorant. However, the use of terms like "afirmative action" only serves to keep them ignorant. Nobody knows what the term means until it it defined in a particular application.

If I said, "The university will employ affirmative action in its admission policies," would anyone know what that really means?

However, if I said, "The university will use a SAT cutoff for blacks that is 100 points lower than for Asians," I think everyone would understand.
8.18.2007 8:59pm
Owen (mail):
I also disagree with this:

[M]ost of the supposedly nonpreferential programs listed by Taranto and Justice Kennedy are in fact themselves racial preferences. If, for example, school boards "pursue the goal of bringing together students of diverse . . . races" by trying to increase the percentage of minorities at certain schools, they are still intentionally taking race into account in their decisionmaking and still trying to ensure that the schools in question have some particular percentage of minority students.

I don't believe the public views outreach efforts, even if they are *technically* preferences, as being racial preferences. I certainly can't prove it, but I would argue that people connect the preference with the actual decision whether or not to admit or hire rather than simply where to allocate recruitment dollars.

On the other hand, affirmative action as a term is really more of a blank slate; it can encompass the actual hiring decision or anything else, from empty statements, to having a table at an inner-city school's recruitment fair, to admitting minorities under radically different academic standards. Or, it can even just be a joining of words that gives respondents a warm fuzzy. Actually describing the issue, as the Kaiser poll did, yields better data, IMO.
8.18.2007 9:00pm
dre (mail):
"There you have it. The Supreme Court, per 5 justices, has declared that racial disrimination is dead . . . . It must be, or there'd still be some lawful need for, say, affirmative action. "
You Libs are Allah stupid. You declare killing children is legal.
8.18.2007 9:38pm
dre (mail):
Affirmative Action - Leftist Bull feces.

Use folks to maintain your political ghouls.
8.18.2007 9:42pm
DRJ (mail):
... most people are indeed politically ignorant.


It's easy for the enlightened and the highly educated to view the electorate as uninformed or even stupid. They aren't. But if you really feel this way, do you also dislike the jury system?
8.18.2007 10:30pm
Patrick Wright (mail):
In Michigan the voters were faced with a ballot that discussed both "affirmative action" and "preferences."

Here is some background. In some initial matters related to the Michigan Civil Rights Amendment, the Board of Canvassers had deadlocked on partisan lines; basically, the Democrats refused to certify the signatures despite a clear legal obligation to do so (the opponents of MCRI had made allegations of fraud in the collection of the signatures, which allegations, depending on your point of view, were either entirely specious or proof of a gross injustice).

Eventually, the Michigan Court of Appeals ordered MCRI to be placed on the ballot, and in a later order, it ordered the Board of Canvassers to approve ballot language. As noted in that order, pursuant to MCL 168.32, it is the responsibility of the Secretary of State's Election Bureau to come up with a 100-word summary of a proposed amendment. This 100-word summary is required by the Michigan Constitution's art. 12, sec. 2.

Thus it is the 100-word summary, and not the language of the amendment itself that most voters encounter. (The language of the amendment is available on the walls at the polling place for anyone that wishes to read it in its entirety).

The 100-word summary for MCRI stated that it was "A PROPOSAL TO AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION TO BAN AFFIRMATIVE ACTION PROGRAMS THAT GIVE PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT TO GROUPS OR INDIVIDUALS BASED ON THEIR RACE, GENDER, COLOR, ETHNICITY OR NATIONAL ORIGIN FOR PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION OR CONTRACTING PURPOSES."

Therefore, Michigan does not fit neatly into the Washington and California versus Houston dichotomy.
8.18.2007 10:55pm
dre (mail):
"Yes, most people are indeed politically ignorant."

Thank you our marxist overlord. Yo dude we don't need your stinkin' badges.
8.18.2007 11:09pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
The rationally politically ignorant don't vote.
8.18.2007 11:15pm
calmom:
What isn't factored in is that the voters have some idea as to what 'preferences' or 'affirmative action' have meant in practice in their states. In California it meant that certain minorities could have lower SAT scores and lower grade point averages and that Asians and whites would have to work much harder in school in order to get into California state universities as a result.

That steams voters who aren't getting that 'affirmative action' and they vote against it. Many people have a similar example that they or someone close to them have experienced. That is what they are voting against.

It's not a word in a vacuum. It has actual experiential meaning for every voter.
8.19.2007 1:35am
CDU (mail):
It's easy for the enlightened and the highly educated to view the electorate as uninformed or even stupid. They aren't. But if you really feel this way, do you also dislike the jury system?

The jury system is rather different. We don't just drag 12 people off the street and ask them whether a person is guilty or not. Each side gets a chance to inform, educate, and persuade the jury (often at very great length) before they render their decision. If voters were sequestered before referendums and each side given a chance to argue their case, then the two would be equivalent.
8.19.2007 3:05am
stormy (mail):
I could care less how what % of people feel about affirmative action. It has no bearing upon it's constitutionality.
8.19.2007 3:44am
Richard S (mail):
I thought that the real problem with the literacy tests was not that they were unfair per se, but that they were not enforced fairly. As administered, whites who could not read were allowed to pass, but blacks with PhDs could not. The test was, in itself, neutral.

For sport I'll add another question. Prof. Somin makes a moral argumen. What in the training of lawyers makes them expert in such arguments? It may very well be that such concerns are central to the law, and they were in the days of Edward Coke, and in the era of the American revolution. James Otis used to advise his law students to keep books of moral philosophy on their desks. Since the early 20th century, however, legal teaching in America has preached positivism, and has been organized on that basis. That being the case, why should Americans consider lawyers to be expert in moral argument?
8.19.2007 6:42am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I live in Michigan. I can say that the proposition in question was debated at some length, which it would be, in terms which were pretty clear.

One side spoke of fairness and remedy and discrimination (using the last term in ways which absolutely screwed any connection with the English language).

The other side said it wasn't fair that somebody could get extra points for being black. Or some other minority.

The first side insisted it was mean and unfair and inaccurate to characterize AA as extra points for being black and there would be all sorts of bad consequences if the government could no longer give extra points for being black.

IMO, the discussion forced by the appearance of the proposition was probably the worst thing that could have happened to the AA proponents. They had to come out from behind rationalizations which, to that point, had been pretty safe.

Also, the voters were annoyed that the state was lying--see U-Mich when Carl Cohen used the FOIA to get the real scoop--about the whole thing.

It was ugly, and the folks who opposed AA weren't doing the ugly.
8.19.2007 11:48am
Public_Defender (mail):
"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discrimination on the basis of race,"

CJ Roberts

Next, CJ Roberts will adopt the equally briliant truisms:

"You can't make peace by waging war."

"We shouldn't kill people who kill people to show people that killing people is wrong."
8.19.2007 1:05pm
just stoppin by (mail):
This is a great post, Ilya. Actually, it's your block quoted post re facially neutral programs that's the great part. Why is the 10% program any different from the town privatizing its swimming pool?

And public defender, heh.
8.19.2007 2:10pm
DRJ (mail):
CDU:
If voters were sequestered before referendums and each side given a chance to argue their case, then the two would be equivalent.
Really? Jurors don't listen to or believe everything lawyers say any more than citizens listen to or believe everything spoken or printed by the media. But I'd be willing to bet that the media's ability to persuade voters is far more compelling than a lawyer's sway with a sequestered jury.
8.19.2007 5:31pm
DRJ (mail):
Just Stoppin By:
Why is the 10% program any different from the town privatizing its swimming pool?
Privatizing the swimming pool implies that only the favored or rich will be admitted. The top 10% law is designed to do just the opposite - provide guaranteed admittance to a state college based on merit (graduation in the top 10% of your high school class) rather than on who you know or where you live.
8.19.2007 5:34pm
markm (mail):

First, as I pointed out in my initial post on this issue, using the term "preferences" is also misleading because it will lead many voters to think of traditional invidious discrimination against minorities rather than of remedial affirmative action preferences.

Ilya, can you point to any evidence that anyone at all, let alone a significant percentage, would in this day at age view "preferences" as referring to discrimination against blacks (which has been illegal for 43 years) rather than as discrimination against whites (which has been in the news and in the courts quite often in recent years)? I'd certainly take it as the latter.

Anyhow, would any fan of "affirmative action" prefer the truly precise and accurate term "discrimination against whites"?
8.19.2007 5:51pm
ReaderY:
I reiterate my view that judges should leave legislating morality to legislatures, who are better suited to the task because they are accountable to the public. Constitutional issues on highly controversial matters should not be decided by 5 Justices' beliefs about what is morally wrong (or whether other people's morality is irrational); rather, moral choices are for the political branches to make. When the Court over-moralizes -- either preaching its own brand of morality or ripping into the legislature's -- it lessens its legitimacy.

I reiterate my view that strict scrutiny should be strong medicine reserved for egregious cases. A full-blown caste system with black people kept in chicken wire cages in the back of public buildings and kept out of professions and meaningful educational opportunities justifies strong medicine; choices that merely result in a few inconveniences do not. It is important to be consistent about judicial restaint, not to advocate it when other people's ideas are involved while ignoring it for ones own.
8.19.2007 7:05pm
Ian Maitland (mail):
Ilya
I am puzzled by your distinction between "remedial affirmative action preferences" (apparently good) and "traditional invidious discrimination against minorities" (bad).
But "remedial affirmative action" a contradiction in terms? How does it count as a remedy to give, say, one red-headed person a promotion or pay raise because another red-headed person was wrongly denied one? (OK it may be a legal term of art, but then so much worse for the law).
I strongly suspect the voters knew perfectly well what they were doing -- they were voting against preferences that masqueraded as remedies -- even if I can't cite exit polls to prove it. I don't think you give the voters enough credit for seeing through the verbal smokescreen laid down by the diversity (ditto) establishment. You can be rationally ignorant and still know a crock when you see one.
8.19.2007 7:15pm
Houston Lawyer:
I laugh at the characterization of the 10% rule as a merit-based approach. What it intends is that a graduate from the top 10% of the worst school in the state (usually overwhelimingly Black) has the same chance of admission as the valedictorian from the best school in the state. It's just another form of racial spoils system put into place following the Hopwood ruling outlawing racial preferences in Texas state school admissions.
8.19.2007 8:33pm
whit:
"Anyhow, would any fan of "affirmative action" prefer the truly precise and accurate term "discrimination against whites"?"

to be more precise it would "extra strong discriminations against asians and strong discrimination against whites"

many proponents of racial preferences like to frame it as "privileged whites" vs. "under-privileged people of color", the latter needing a "step up" to overcome all the discrimination they face.

of course, california being an excellent example, many "people of color" do FAR FAR better than whites in SAT's, grades, etc - for example - asian americans. their "step up" was not discrimination (such as AA) but a value system that promotes hard work, schoolwork, etc.

they were the ones MOST discriminated against by AA in california, and they needed much higher SAT scores/grades than whites or blacks, since on average they scored much better than either whites or blacks.

much of the left's argument for preferences is that much harder to defend when their "privileged" argument is confronted with the reality of outperforming asians (specifically japanese americans), unless their claim is that japanese americans are somehow "privileged".

even lower income quintile asians tended to score higher than blacks and whites. and of course, there are few better ways of ensuring income quintile mobility (upwards) than outscoring the average in school and SAT's.

that's why despite being interned during WWII, and despite many being very poor when they moved to this country, and despite racial discrimination, asians SIGNIFICANTLY outperform the 'privileged' whites.

it supports the argument that hard work, and a value system that emphasizes education and sacrifice WORKS.

racial preferences are similar to what economists refer to as "perverse incentives". they give preference to those that perform least well. iow, they incentivize group underperformance. because as soon as a group starts to outperform, they lose preferences.
8.19.2007 10:12pm
ray:
The top 10% rule is not merit based because it gives the same preference to the top 10% of the very lowest performing schools as the top 10% from the very most competitive schools.
8.19.2007 11:30pm
Proud to be a liberal :
The reason that the top 10% rule appeals to so many people is because it seems fair. In many areas, students do not choose their high schools; instead, state and local politics makes the decisions, and many children simply go to their local high school.
Should college admissions be about the ability of the student based on the opportunities available to the student, so the top students in every high school in the state have the opportunity to go to a top university?
Or should a student's chances for admission be determined by factors beyond the student's ability and be based on the merit, not of the student, but of the student's school?
8.20.2007 1:18am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Proud.
The top of the bottom can get admitted. What then?
Well, what then is that they flunk.
Can't have that. So, like the rabbit in the python's belly, the lump has to slide along and we need differential graduation requirements.
But that means differences in hiring and further success, so we need differential standards for hiring and ....
8.20.2007 1:23am
markm (mail):
Richard: Aside from training centers for the severely retarded, if the top 10% of the graduates of any high school aren't qualified for state college, then it isn't functioning as a school at all. It should be shut down, and it should pay reparations to any kids who actually were trying to learn. I pay taxes to support public education, not to run day care centers for ages 5 to 19.

I realize that in many cases, the fault isn't mainly the school's, but the kids, their parents, and the neighborhood. If people outside of the school are all telling the kids that studying is betraying their race, then there's no hope for most of them - but there are always exceptions, and I'd be very surprised if there weren't more than 10% of the kids that genuinely wanted to get an education and would have been willing to work hard at it if the school had called for that, rather than ignoring them while babysitting the ones that weren't willing to learn. What I do blame such schools for is that, in the name of the politically-correct but impossible goal of educating everyone, they failed to educate anyone and wasted 12 years of the life of every kid there, whether he was trying to learn or disrupting the classes.

Not that such schools failed at everything. They provide employment for a plethora of "teachers", with extra pay for certificates to teach "Special Ed", "English as a second language", etc. They also employ a large posse of administrators, counselors, psychologists, security guards, and repairmen. It seems as if their real goal was to provide employment for large numbers under union contracts, for they succeeded quite well at that...
8.20.2007 4:19pm
John Rosenberg (mail) (www):
using the term "preferences" is also misleading because it will lead many voters to think of traditional invidious discrimination against minorities rather than of remedial affirmative action preferences.

I, like several other commenters, disagree with this statement for a number of reasons. Here are a few.

1. Most of us who oppose racial preferences believe racial discrimination is racial discrimination. That is, we don't distinguish between bad "invidious" racial discrimination and good, presumably non-invidious racial discrimination. (I say "presumably" because a good argument can be made -- indeed, often is made -- that, say, giving racial preferences in college admissions is invidious, or has an invidious effect, because it reinforces the notion that all blacks are un- or under-qualified and can't succeed without special, racially targeted help.)

Now, you might disagree, or the Secretary of State of, say, Missouri may disagree, but that is a substantive disagreement, not a persuasive argument that the term "racial preferences" is confusing and thus is no justification for substituting "affirmative action" on ballot proposals submitted by citizens whose intent is to end racial preferences.

2. As has been pointed out, "affirmative action" encompasses many worthwhile programs that would not be banned by measures to prohibit racial preferences. The 10% plans may be in a gray area (I think they would pass muster; others whom I respect don't), but surely you recognize that many "outreach" programs do not themselves employ preferences or promise preferential treatment for the targets of the outreach. In addition, preferential treatment of applicants who needy, or who are the first in their family to attend college, are often (and accurately) described as "affirmative action" and yet they clearly would not be prohibited by bans on race or ethnic preference.

3. In short, insofar as your concern is with clarity and lack of confusion among voters, "preferential treatment" wins hands down over "affirmative action." It accurately describes the programs the initiatives (and those who sponsor and support them) seek to ban; "affirmative action" does not.

4. In order to justify "remedial affirmative action preferences" as a "remedy," one must believe in a rather strong version of group rights, i.e., that one can remedy the wrong done to certain individuals by giving preferences to other individuals who share a certain pigmentation. But even that belief simply begs the question, unless you believe some groups have more rights than others, that it is legitimate to benefit the black group at the expense of the Asian group, etc. Thus the "tax" on whites, Asians, and other non-preferred minorities becomes a version of a race-based bill of attainder, with guilt/debt passed on from generation to generation.
8.20.2007 5:32pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
markm. The top of the bottom is pretty low. I have a client who taught in an inner city school--not as bad as the really, really innerinner city of the big metro areas, but not good.
He could not expect his eighth graders to do their math homework. He could not flunk kids for turning in no homework at all for a semester. He could only test them on what they learned in class without reinforcing or practice on homework. Otherwise, he'd be flunking most of the class. It's called "dumbing down". The smartest kid in the class isn't going to know more than is presented.
This is not like the best high school to the worst high school in a suburban or rural setting. This is really bad.
See John McWhorter in "Losing the Race". He refers to Shaker Heights where he went to high school. First class system. So as you point out, some is cultural, some is the school itself.

My son played football, basketball, and tennis in a suburban league which included a sort of inner city outlier. As if you'd picked up the worst of the local inner city and plunked it just outside the city line. Games there were a hoot. The football players escorted the cheerleaders on and off the field in a hollow square. It wasn't Brigade of Guards trooping the colors in quality. It was more a tactical formation.
Parents' night was pathetic. Just pathetic. There were a few at the football games who had two parents. The basketball team, when the game there was their parents' night, was horrid. Not one kid of twelve had two parents stand up with him. Not one.
When things are that bad, the standards suffer. Or nobody graduates.
8.20.2007 10:31pm
Proud to be a liberal :
On the top 10% rule:

First, the top 10% rule helps not only minority students from inner city schools but it also helps middle class families -- like the plaintiff in the University of Michigan case who did well in a private high school that did not offer AP classses and who focused on cheerleading as an activity.

Second, Texas does require some students who meet admission due to the 10% rule to attend classes to prepare them for academics.

Third, a student who is in the top 10% of the class in a majority minority school in a poor community may have a lot of drive -- more so than a privileged child who has benefited from parents who nag the child to do the work, who carefully edit and proofread the child's school work, who provide funds for tutors for school &SATS, etc., and who send the child to Costa Rica for the summer for something great to put in the admissions essay.

Fourth, it useful to note that the top 10% rule is similar to a criterion used by the US New &World Report Survey. In an effort to garner better US News &World report ratings, many selective colleges focus on student in the top 10%, to the detriment of many talented students in the 11-20% at highly demanding high schools.
8.21.2007 2:07am
Smokey:
So, everyone claiming that the 'top 10% rule' is a Good Thing: I'd like to hear your thoughts if your own child [or maybe you, yourself], was bumped out of a chance to go to Harvard by a less-qualified individual from the lowest quintile?

Would you casually accept that your lost opportunity should be borne by you or your child personally?

Nit-picking arguments will always be made by those pushing racial politics. But the only way to run a fair system is by merit. Racially based preferences, no matter what the putative argument, are un-American.
8.21.2007 6:07pm