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Affirmative Action Does More Harm

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Well-known member
Feb 14, 2005
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Southern SD
Report: Affirmative Action Does More Harm Than Good
Jim Meyers, NewsMax.com
Tuesday, May 3, 2005
Affirmative action produces no concrete benefits for minority students and actually has several harmful effects, according to a new report by the Cato Institute.

"Recent research shows that college admissions preferences do not offer even the practical benefits claimed by their supporters," writes Marie Gryphon, a lawyer and policy analyst with the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom.

Affirmative action does not significantly affect college access because most four-year schools are not selective, and will accept any student with a high school education.
Preferences for minority students come into play only at the 20 to 30 percent of colleges where admissions are competitive, according to Gryphon.

But preferences at these selective schools have not increased college access for minorities because most minorities leave high school without the minimum credentials necessary to attend any four-year school.

Political scientist Jay Green found that only 20 percent of African-American students and 16 percent of Hispanics leave high school with the minimum credentials.

"Minority underrepresentation in college is caused by public schools' failure to prepare minority students," writes Gryphon. "It is a failure that affirmative action does not remedy."

Preferences also do not increase the earning power of students who attend more selective schools as a result of affirmative action.

Recent research shows that when equally prepared students are compared, those attending less selective schools make as much money as those from more selective schools.

Affirmative action in fact results in harm to the minority community, Gryphon found, due to the "ratchet effect:" Preferences at a handful of top schools, including state flagship universities, can worsen racial disparities in academic preparation at other schools by luring away qualified minority students who might otherwise attend those schools.

"This effect results in painfully large gaps in academic preparation between minority students and others on campuses around the country," according to Gryphon.

Affirmative action also hurts campus race relationships. Thomas Sowell, author of "Affirmative Action Around the World: An Empirical Study," writes: "Even in the absence of overt hostility, black students at M.I.T. complained that other students there did not regard them as being desirable partners on group projects or as people to study with for tough exams."

And the policy harms minority student performance "by activating fears of confirming negative group stereotypes, lowering grades, and reducing college completion rates among preferred students," Gryphon found.

That is, minority students who are "bumped up" into selective schools for which they're ill-prepared show poorer academic performance and graduation rates than if they had attended a less selective institution.

"Policymakers should end the harmful practice of racial preferences in college admissions," Gryphon concludes. "Instead, they should work to close the critical skills gap by implementing school choice reforms and setting higher academic expectations for students of all backgrounds."

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