October 2, 2012

The "mismatch" argument against affirmative action.

Explained by Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor Jr.:
The mismatch effect happens when a school extends to a student such a large admissions preference — sometimes because of a student's athletic prowess or legacy connection to the school, but usually because of the student's race — that the student finds himself in a class where he has weaker academic preparation than nearly all of his classmates. The student who would flourish at, say, Wake Forest or the University of Richmond, instead finds himself at Duke, where the professors are not teaching at a pace designed for him —  they are teaching to the "middle" of the class, introducing terms and concepts at a speed that is unnerving even to the best-prepared student.
Read the whole thing. It's odd that these observations are surfacing so late in our experience with affirmative action, but there's a new case pending in the Supreme Court, which creates an occasion for elaborating the policy pros and cons. I remember discussions about affirmative action, back in the 1980s, in which any attempt to make this argument would provoke a sharp rebuke.
With striking uniformity, university leaders view discussion of the mismatch problem as a threat to affirmative action and to racial peace on campuses, and therefore a subject to be avoided. They suppress data and even often ostracize faculty who attempt to point out the seriousness of mismatch.
It's a painful thought, that you are hurting the people you meant to help. The urge to repress ensues. It's much easier to justify imposing a disadvantage on the people you decided could bear the burden. That's something academics have long felt comfortable discussing openly.

115 comments:

Synova said...

Thomas Sowell made that argument a long time ago. But who listens to Thomas Sowell, huh?

How long, I couldn't say. Perhaps he will.

gmama3 said...

Liberal policies usually hurt the people they were intended to help.

If better matching had occurred academically prepared minority students would have gone on to be successful at top tier schools, while less prepared minority students would have been successful at lower tier schools and some of their children would probably now be successful at upper tier schools. Instead the less prepared students flunked out and felt like failures.

However, the real point of affirmative action was to make liberals feel better about themselves, and that was accomplished, so any discussion of this is obviously racist.

KLDAVIS said...

Umm...

"It's odd that these observations are surfacing so late in our experience with affirmative action...I remember discussions about affirmative action, back in the 1980s, in which any attempt to make this argument would provoke a sharp rebuke."

If the subject was not open for debate when the policies were implemented, why would you find it at all odd that the observations are late in arriving?

I'm actually somewhat surprised you consider this something worth highlighting. It's a phenomenon I've been familiar with since I was considering applying to law schools in 2002...even if it wasn't much discussed in academic realms, it was all too demonstrable in the real world.

LilyBart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dante said...

As the wise latina said, the job of the Supreme court isn't to determine whether the law is stupid or not, only constitutional.

So let's see how AA holds up:

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 . . . nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

So it doesn't matter what you, or the Supreme Court thinks, about how good or bad it is. So the point of these arguments going to the supreme court is?

Mary Beth said...

The student who would flourish at, say, Wake Forest or the University of Richmond, instead finds himself at Duke, where the professors are not teaching at a pace designed for him — they are teaching to the "middle" of the class, introducing terms and concepts at a speed that is unnerving even to the best-prepared student.

Aren't the best-prepared students above the middle? That sounds like it's there as a softening phrase - it's not your fault it's difficult, even the most prepared students are struggling.

edutcher said...

These observations occurred to a lot of people in the last 40 years, but, if they said anything publicly, they were denounced as racist.

America's Politico said...

What do people think will happen in the case that SCOTUS will try on October 10 (Fisher vs. Texas at Austin)?

http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_calendars/MonthlyArgumentViewer.aspx?Filename=MonthyArgumentCalOct2012.html

The POTUS supports the university. We will win TX, which will be PURPLE.

Paul said...

"It's a painful thought, that you are hurting the people you meant to help."

Liberalism's legacy in a nutshell though.

But what's really painful to liberals is the notion that conservatives have been right all along, and that their good intentions (which are in reality just exercises to make liberals feel good about themselves) have backfired due to the law of unintended consequences.

It's so painful it must be suppressed and exorcised at all costs, and is the cause of the left's unhinged, demonic hatred.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

gmama3 said...

Liberal policies usually hurt the people they were intended to help



Not to mention the disadvantage minorities face when they graduate and enter the job market. Whether or not they were affirmative action admissions, they are often presumed to have been, and as such are not perceived to be as qualified as their peers. Is it unfair? Maybe so, but it's the reality.

ricpic said...

This has been known like forever. But I guess liberals, who religiously avoid acknowledging anything that contradicts their fairy tale, are still ignorant of actual black academic under-performance.

The only saving grace when a bureaucrat allows me to go under the knife and assigns me an AA black surgeon will be the knowledge that the same will be the fate of some alte cocker liberal somewhere.

jr565 said...

One can justify the need to help people based on economic need, but basing it on affirmative action hurts those who can't handle the work. It also hurts the people who should have gotten into a university who don't based on the race of another applicant, who is sometimes better off economically than the white applicant (as but one example). It also limits the number of applicants of a specific race to a certain number of openings. Asians are a minority, but they excel at school. And yet affirmative action would actually hurt them since more of it should be going to them.

Too much inequity on all sides to be considered anything but a racist policy. If you want to say reverse racist, then whatever. It's ultimately the same thing.

Affirmative action based on economic necessity, and not race. Anything else is perpetuating racial animosity.

jvermeer51 said...

Ann wrote, "It's odd that these observations are surfacing so late in our experience with affirmative action". Geez, where have you been for the last 30 years. Thomas Sowell, among others, made this observation years ago. It's just that in the university setting, certain ideas are not permitted to be spoken.

gmama3 said...

Liberals have a solution, they are working with the NEA to ensure students of every race are ill prepared for elite colleges. Even Michelle Obama is pitching in to make sure kids are underfed at school so they don't get too smart.

Bob Ellison said...

It's odd?

Big Mike said...

It's a painful thought, that you are hurting the people you meant to help.

My impression from my contacts with academic folks, is that the point of affirmative action is not to aid the people who -- allegedly -- benefit from the policy but to let the liberals feel good about themselves.

Shouting Thomas said...

Yes, Thomas Sowell and John Rosenberg at the blog Discriminations have, indeed, been making the mismatch argument for well over a decade.

Balfegor said...

It's a painful thought, that you are hurting the people you meant to help.

I increasingly wonder whether they -- you -- really do mean to help, deep down. After all, the "diversity" rationale isn't just a fig leaf to cover up an old-style racial quota system. There are people who really believe the rhetoric. And the essence of the "diversity" rationale is bringing in racial minorities to improve the educational experience of Whites. And in my not-terribly-secret racist heart, I suspect that posh upper middle class Whites support affirmative action for academically less-qualified Blacks and Hispanics because they are afraid of what Asians will do to the curve.

10 years ago, I told myself that the decent thing to do is always to take peoples' motives at face value, etc. etc. On affirmative action, I find myself less and less willing to do so.

Terry said...

It's been a decade or more since I looked at the data, but I believe that no matter how you slice and dice family and social background, you still come out with Asians on top, then whites, then hispanics, then blacks.
That is, if you control for every conceivable factor other than race, you still would have a student body dominated by Asians and whites.
There would be few hispanics and blacks in the top tier schools, and many in the lower tier schools, unless you explicitly make race an admissions factor.
I can see why admissions officers like affirmative action. It makes their job easier.
People might jump to all kinds of conclusions if we had an ostensibly meritocratic college admissions system that had the appearance of discriminating on race.

Carnifex said...

If Ali-house keeps blogging about racism, I might find myself drifting from the Obama camp... this questioning makes me uncomfortable. I'm a man, and I vote!

Dr Weevil said...

I don't remember who said this first (not I) but affirmative action in college admissions is like the Peter Principle, but treated as if it were a good thing: promoting everyone to the level of their incompetence right from the start (unlike the original Peter Principle) and then being surprised when so many of them fail.

When I taught at a large state university in the south 20+ years ago, a third to a half of my black students were in the bottom tenth of the grading curve, and the other half or two-thirds were pretty much evenly distributed through the other nine deciles. It wasn't too hard to guess which ones were affirmative action admittees whose test scores and high school grades would have kept them out if they had been white or Asian.

Pogo said...

""Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
  --  C.S. Lewis

edutcher said...

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Liberal policies usually hurt the people they were intended to help

Not to mention the disadvantage minorities face when they graduate and enter the job market. Whether or not they were affirmative action admissions, they are often presumed to have been, and as such are not perceived to be as qualified as their peers. Is it unfair? Maybe so, but it's the reality.


The Diversity Hire In Chief is an excellent example.

Revenant said...

It's odd that these observations are surfacing so late in our experience with affirmative action

Um, what? That argument is at least 20 years old.

Shouting Thomas said...

In private business, Althouse, we've been dealing with the results of this lunacy for 30 years.

We keep hiring people who are supposedly vetted at the college level, and credentialed as graduates, who are functionally illiterate and unable to do their job.

We get rid of them somehow, cover up and pass them on to some other company, and the process repeats itself.

Bob Ellison said...

Most big, new ideas invite their most serious criticisms right at the start. In the case of affirmative action, most people ignored the criticisms. White and male guilt are to blame.

Carnifex said...

Better professors should worry about the high cost of tuition. If they price themselves out of the market, and history shows that they are, Will Zero be there to bail them out?

Okay, stupid question. Zero will always bail out his sycophants. But Zero ain't gonna be prez much longer. If you got Daily Show mocking your administration, and you're a red diaper doper baby, then you are in deep shit. Up to your lower lip, and satan's coming with his ski boat.

As far as AA it's full retard liberalism, hurts everyone, relies on gigantic government, and very costly... the trifecta. Hence, like abortion, they will die before admitting it sucks giant sweaty donkey balls.(Andy, go take a cold shower)

I want to know when anyone in the media besides the papers in Raleigh(home of NC State) are going to cover the UNC African American studies scandal. The NCAA polished NC's knob with slobbering kisses(they make too much money for the ncaa to expect anything less) but people are starting to notice the stonewalling going on.

Gag! Just saw an ad featuring a bunch of stupid Hollywood chicks talking about how they are women, and they are going to vote for Zero. I'm sure the Professor would feel right at home, especially after working so closely with Rodney Dangerfield.

Seven Machos said...

Well, a couple points.

I add to Synova's point that National Review hammered this point throughout the 1990s, when I read every issue cover to cover.

Also, a friend of mine was an athlete at an Ivy League school. He's white. He would not have gotten in had he not been an athlete. He told me that the academic level he had to deal with was, indeed, unnerving. Now, this person is a pretty successful guy.

Affirmative action at public schools is clearly unconstitutional. At private schools, you could use the Commerce Clause to argue that it is because of the loans and grants, but that's silly. Probably we need a Sandra Day O'Connor 467-point balancing test there...

John Lynch said...

I heard this argument 20 years ago. There's nothing new in AA.

John Lynch said...
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Shouting Thomas said...

Seven, you're back to the same fucking stupid shit as before.

The reality is that on average Asians score one standard deviation above whites on IQ tests.

Whites score on average one deviation above blacks on IQ tests.

This does not mean that individual blacks cannot be intelligent and successful.

But, your attempt to change the subject is the expected BS. This subject turns you into an idiot.

Seven Machos said...

Thomas -- I am agreeing with you. Let's please not go down that road until mid-November.

Mark said...

The fatal flaw of Modern Liberalism: good intentions trump good data.

Seven Machos said...

On edit -- I was agreeing with Thomas in a different thread.

In this thread, I'm just reporting fact as reported to me by my friend the (relatively) dumb jock at the Ivy League school.

I think those facts, on balance, reflect well on affirmative action. On the other hand, this guy had a very stable family and went to a fancy-pants private high school.

At any rate, any self-respecting conservative should have no problem with voluntary affirmative action at private schools. Public schools are the constitutional issue.

Lem said...

If this seemingly simple, innocuous intervention can lead to unfortunately unforeseen consequences... imagine the take over of a massive health care system.

While the Affirmative Action horse has left the barn and it may prove to be politically impossible to bring him back... There is still time to reining Obamacare.

Mr. T. said...

Stuart Taylor, of all people, knows full well that Duke faculty have their own form of affirmative action: on top of the standard modus operandi of discrimination against so-called "privledged" groups, they also conspire to expell, to committ grade retaliation, and to falsely accuse their own students of rape.

Mr. T. said...

Stuart Taylor, of all people, knows full well that Duke faculty have their own form of affirmative action: on top of the standard modus operandi of discrimination against so-called "privledged" groups, they also conspire to expell, to committ grade retaliation, and to falsely accuse their own students of rape.

Shouting Thomas said...

As an old fart, one of the things that constantly amazes me about the Andy's of this world is that they think they are the first to hear stupid arguments of the sort "blacks cannot be racist."

I got the same fucking indoctrination in college back in the 60s.

The thing that is amazing about this is that the dumb kids like Andy think they're fighting against people who were reared and educated in an environment of overt racism.

Makes me shake my head in wonder.

holdfast said...

Saw this in very stark terms at my Canadian university. They had a special program to admit a certain number of First Nations Persons (native Indians), apparently regardless of test scores or other qualifications. My God, it was a bloodbath - many of them dropped out before the end of first year. It was just brutal, especially in classes where some approximation of the Socratic Method was used.

If the government and universities really wanted to redress some "historical wrongs" they should have given them a couple of years of junior college gratis and then let them re-test. Shoving them into rigorous university programs the way they did was just unfair and a morale killer for all involved.

Shouting Thomas said...

Andy, you keep recycling the stupid Diversity Seminar indoctrination like it something new you just thought of.

You are a complete idiot.

Balfegor said...

Re: Shouting Thomas:

We keep hiring people who are supposedly vetted at the college level, and credentialed as graduates, who are functionally illiterate and unable to do their job.

I don't think that's a racial thing -- I think that's just that high school fails to prepare a lot of people, and they graduate from college without having got the preparation they were supposed to get in high school. Even at the lawyer-level, well I'm no great prose stylist (haha) so perhaps I am not the best judge, but I've seen written work from people with excellent records from excellent schools that was shockingly badly written. I don't mean in terms of content. I mean in terms of basic diction and style -- using words and phrases un-idiomatically, etc. And I've seen this from native-born Whites, so it's not like it was a matter of learning English as a second language or growing up with non-standard usage in the home.

For my own part, it is my firm conviction that I wrote better, cleaner, clearer prose when I graduated from high school than when I graduated from college, and better, cleaner, clearer prose when I graduated from college than when I graduated from law school. In high school, I was capable of writing proficiently in only one register -- the formal -- and that with Gibbon and Macaulay as my model. Now, my prose style, even when I try to write in the formal mode, has a powerful and regrettable tendency towards the meandering and chatty.

SGT Ted said...

Their urge to suppress and ignore who it hurts in order to not have to re-examine their ideology and methods goes to the very heart of whats wrong with modern Institutes of Higher Ed.

BAS said...

I was a teaching assistant in a technical program at a pretty good University. The minority students were bright but did not have the same background as the other students. I did have some minority students who were very successful but they transferred from community college AFTER they caught up to their peers.

However, I think you are missing the point, these students do not flunk out of school they get a degree in a liberal arts program, where there is no wrong answer. The jobs they get are less stable and more expandable in a down economy.

furious_a said...

“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

--Chief Justice John Roberts.

Writ Small said...

Charles Murray made this case at length in The Bell Curve back in '94.

It was sharing this argument with fellow liberal family members and finding they had absolutely no counter that started me on the path to conservatism.

Chip Ahoy said...

Mismatch effect. Very good. A phrase is found for an idea so simple so plain so common in its sense that even academics come around to understanding it given a decade and provide it a name as if encountering a new and unexpected thing.

rcommal said...

I remember exactly where I was when the Bakke decision came down. (In retrospect, it's ironic, even, on a number of levels.) Do you?

sleepless nights said...
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virgil xenophon said...

The dirty little open secret is that admissions officers have always discriminated against/favored groups for a multitude of reasons. I remember an Ivy League admissions officer in the 60s stating: "If we took only those who scored in the top 10% on the New York State Board of Regents Exam every school in the Ivy League would be 90% Jewish."
LOL!

wyo sis said...

Chip Ahoy
Exactly!

Terry said...

Seven Machos wrote:
On edit -- I was agreeing with Thomas in a different thread.
The trick wtih Seven Machos is . . .
THAT IS NOT A MASK!
AI-YEEE!

David said...

The problem arises first in the elementary and high schools that fail to educate black kids for the world they are entering. Family disfunction, the pervasive ideology of victimization, black community disintegration and poverty mean that the kids start at a disadvantage, and then most school systems make the problem worse.

The black community has to start fixing its cultural problems from inside. Communities have to rise up against the cynical unions that put teacher welfare above student welfare. We have to flush out the bullshit and incompetence at the bottom of the educational pyramid. Otherwise it won't matter what the colleges and grad schools do.

I've watched black leaders and white leaders fail at this for fifty years. Mostly they fail because they accept bullshit over and over again. Some fail because they do not give a damn. A few try hard to do the right thing but mostly they are overwhelmed by the corrupt or lazy and fail too.

Racial preferences will never solve these problems. Never.

Carnifex said...

Here's a dirty little Affirmative Action secret for ya'. Because the government is SO AA oriented they have been hiring minorities at a disproportionate rate than white people. City, County, State, and Federal governments have all been doing this...for decades.

Now, in this clime of blossoming debt, and shrinking tax base, these government agencies are being forced, or will be forced in the future, to "trim" their work force.

The managers of these departments are going to trim their dead wood first. Dead wood is a euphamism for affirmative action hire.

Some minority workers will be spared the axe, because they can actually do the job(who'da' thunk it?). The ones who won't be spared are the fireman who sue because the test for promotion is "racist", and the LGBABCXYZ'ers who claim sexual harassment, discrimination, privilege, etc. when someone looks at the tattoo of their vagina they've had done over their face, with matching piercings(I hesitated to write that for fear of starting a trend).

And when those people realize that they are the weakest link, they will sue the pants off(take a cold shower Andy)every living breathing one of us...and Elena "the Kegeler" Kagen, that wisest of mexicans, will rule in their favor.

Matt said...

When I worked in the undergrad office the UW-Madison School of Business, admission was strictly based on completing the pre-req courses and attaining a 3.2 GPA during those first two years of college... unless you were a targeted minority in which case you needed to get just a 2.5 GPA. As a result, students were admitted who were unable to compete with their fellow students. They may still graduate but they were guaranteed to be at the bottom of their class.

In one case, a student struggled so mightily that his GPA dropped below the 2.0 minimum required to graduate. He kept taking classes and was nearing 200 credits with no signs of improvement. I calculated what he would need to do to graduate: 3 straight years of a perfect 4.0 GPA. In the end, he spent a lot of time and money pursuing a degree he had zero chance of attaining when he could have gone to a less competitive school or entered a less competitive area of study and actually got a degree.

Nomennovum said...

"The student who would flourish at, say, Wake Forest or the University of Richmond, instead finds himself at Duke, where the professors are not teaching at a pace designed for him ..."

LOL. A student who would "flourish" at WFU or UofR would do just fine a Duke too. The author, not wanting to insult a minority, insults everyone at WFU and UofR. The affirmative action babies who flunk out at Duke, probably would not "flourish" even at a third tier college, much less WFU.

Nevertheless, us non-Ivy(ish) students and alumni get the author's still-PC drift.

MayBee said...

The teachers' union in Chicago just went on strike because they believe a large number of their students are so unteachable they (the teachers) do not want to be evaluated based on the students' performance.

The Obama administration has been issuing waivers to NCLB because it is too difficult for some school districts to meet the standards set by the law.

Students who are pushed upward through these systems struggle in colleges that are more challenging than they are prepared for.

And the answer is....push the problem further upward. Encourage similar behavior in med schools via Obamacare.

I guess the idea is if you can push enough people up through the system, eventually they will have enough economic success that the next generation won't need to be pushed upward through the system.
But that only works if people are actually qualified to do what they are being pushed to do.

MayBee said...

Nomennovum - yeah, I thought the Wake Forest thing was odd too. Perhaps the authors are afraid it would be too toxic to look like they were relegating the AA students to Junior Colleges.

rhhardin said...

It's a really old observation, say in the WSJ for example, but just not picked up by the NYT.

DEEBEE said...

This the naked emperor of the left, so it has to be defended by all societal institutions on that side. While similarly clad monarchs of the right (nationalism, militsry fetal politics etc.) have to be "exposed"

FleetUSA said...

During my career I saw the mismatch problem in two U of Chicago MBA grads. The company had hired them as affirmative action help for the company's records and because we thought at least an MBA could be better than average help in the finance department. Both were poorly trained and ultimately let go. It almost seemed they had slept through class and didn't gain anything from the experience. So sad. Especially if you think they took the place of someone who might have used the experience better.

stan said...

Ann,
Every now and then you give us a peek inside the cloistered world of the liberal cocoon with a Pauline Kael moment. This "odd" comment is one.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

"With striking uniformity, university leaders view discussion of the mismatch problem as a threat to affirmative action and to racial peace on campuses, and therefore a subject to be avoided."

Because an analysis of RESULTS is a death sentence in many cases for liberal meddling and outcome-rigging.

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES rule the day.

Marshal said...

The issue of individual mismatch is real, but will never be resolved. Affirmative action is the core of a grand compromise between competing constituencies of the Democratic Party. Democrats couldn't give it up without reforming the schools which leave to many unprepared, and Democrats are never going to risk their political power by doing that.

School boards, especially in urban areas, function as political power bases for city politics. This places certain actions off-limits, and changes priorites. The result being that school boards are less likely to enforce difficult standards which might alienate parents, i.e., voters. Teachers of course see this and refuse to be held accountable for the results. So a sense of futility pervades the system. It's difficult to put out maximum effort when everyone can see how much of it is wasted.

The best parents recognize this and object, but they still can't get teachers to accept repsonsibility for a system run primarily for the benefit of the leading administrators. The resulting compromise is Affirmative Action. Schools can't educate well, but they can use their political power to ensure your kid gets into college anyway. And if he graduates but isn't competitive there will be a job in government to complete the circle.

Pogo said...

It is Obamaphone racism to notice the mismatch effect caused by affirmative action.

The proper response to this harmful result is appreciation for all the hard work.

Rusty said...

"The student who would flourish at, say, Wake Forest or the University of Richmond, instead finds himself at Duke, where the professors are not teaching at a pace designed for him ..."


I thought that's what studies were for.
You know.
African American Studies
Womens Studies
Transgendered Studies

And the bright kids got to do maths and science and greek history and stuff.
And you know who to hire, in the private sector, because they didn't do any "studies"
The kids that did "studies" get the government jobs.

pst314 said...

"It's a painful thought, that you are hurting the people you meant to help."

It was never about helping people. It was always about power and money.

Pogo said...

Fen's Law: "The Left doesn't really believe in the things they lecture the rest of us about."

Karnival said...

It's odd that these observations are surfacing so late in our experience with affirmative action,...

Thomas Sowell discussed this quite clearly in his book "Inside American Education" originally published in the early 90's. He discussed the entirety of a number of problems in our ed system- from K-Grad Schools. Quite a lot to take on.

Ironclad said...

The "Bell Curve" showed it in numbers years ago - and was branded as being racist for showing the numbers. You can argue that the differences between groups are culturally based if you want (though the data has controls to show its not). The point of that book was to show that we needed different education paths to reflect different abilities and different learning aptitudes. What we got was the current dumbing down of the whole education system.

Until the core weaknesses are acknowledged, we will continue to piss money into an educational black hole.

cubanbob said...

I suppose it would be too much to offer the disadvantaged kids remedial education to bring them up to speed. As others have noted, those who did go to community colleges to catch up were the ones who were able to successfully graduate. Those that were done the 'favor' of being admitted while not qualified spent years of their lives (not to mention the money and taking slots) to no good end. How was the unqualified student helped by flunking out of college?

The system as it is from kindergarten to college is failing. It assumes everyone can and should go to college. The Germans have a better system in that they offer serious vocational education and training to those who are neither academically inclined or interested. Considering their per capita GDP and their impressive export economy we could learn from them.

Carol said...

the Affirmative Action horse has left the barn

...and as Thomas Sowell wrote in The Economics of Politics and Race, the (many) countries that have tried AA to help their native losers have *never* given up on it, but instead just double down.

Hagar said...

Any government program tends to injure the people it is intended to help. "Liberal" programs are just the most noticeable now because the "liberals" have been in the ascent and their programs are the ones that have been pushed for the last 70-80 years or so.

Tank said...

10/2/12 9:48 PM
Dante said...

As the wise latina said, the job of the Supreme court isn't to determine whether the law is stupid or not, only constitutional.

So let's see how AA holds up:

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 . . . nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

So it doesn't matter what you, or the Supreme Court thinks, about how good or bad it is. So the point of these arguments going to the supreme court is?


Dante fails to comprehend the nuance of an intellect like former Justice three-levels-of-scrutiny-four-part-test O'Connor.

/Sarc

dbp said...

" It's odd that these observations are surfacing so late in our experience with affirmative action..."

As has been pointed out: These arguments were offered decades ago. Liberals are unaware of this because they were openmindedly singing La La La La La La La La La La La La with their fingers in their ears.

chickelit said...

How wonderful that liberal educators have finally met with the paradox of affirmative action. Now we have some hope of making progress.

Michael said...

This is news to you, professor? Honestly? If so it explains a lot.

This is the reason the drop out rate at top tier schools is so high for blacks. This is why there is deep resentment by many who have "excelled" academically in crappy schools with less than challenging courses taught by average or bad teachers. All happy to dish out top scores to the bright black kid. Kids that are smothered in praise throughout school. And so what else can explain their sudden mediocrity, their fall from on high at the elite school? We do so much harm by our dishonesty.

Baelzar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael said...

This is news to you, professor? Honestly? If so it explains a lot.

This is the reason the drop out rate at top tier schools is so high for blacks. This is why there is deep resentment by many who have "excelled" academically in crappy schools with less than challenging courses taught by average or bad teachers. All happy to dish out top scores to the bright black kid. Kids that are smothered in praise throughout school. And so what else can explain their sudden mediocrity, their fall from on high at the elite school? We do so much harm by our dishonesty.

Baelzar said...

I don't know what you consider "late," but Dinesh D'Souza wrote an excellent book about this over 20 years ago:

"Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus"

It opened my eyes about the effect of affirmative action college admissions; putting unqualified students into the best schools and watching them crash and burn.

Peter said...

The "solution": dumb down the curriculum so everyone (except total goof-offs) can pass.

Then we can declare everyone equal.

Ann Althouse said...

"It was never about helping people. It was always about power and money."

Even if that's so, people retain their self-respect by nurturing the belief that they are doing good.

Michael said...

I had a rich friend back in the 1970s who got a half dozen or more bright black students into Harvard. None made it. He was on to this problem years before it became apparent to most. He shifted gears and steered more kids to good state schools or paid their tuition at local colleges.

When you dont live in a whitebread ivory tower some of these problems are easily identified.

Pogo said...

"L'enfer est plein de bonnes volontés et désirs."
French abbot St. Bernard of Clairvaux, 1143



('Hell is full of good intentions and desires')

Tank said...

Peter said...

The "solution": dumb down the curriculum so everyone (except total goof-offs) can pass.

Then we can declare everyone equal.


This is exactly how they've solved the disparate impact problem for the NYFD. They stupidified the test so that almost everyone passed. Basically, you had to spell your own name right. Now they can pick randomly from the candidates who "passed." This will assure us of a diverse, well rounded, and much stupider fire department. Win win.

Bob Ellison said...

Karnival and Ironclad, Thomas Sowell rejects the hypothesis that racial disparity is intrinsic. I've been searching, without success, for a quote or a video to show this. But it shows up in his writings.

Sowell has it that racial disparity in achievement, IQ, etc. disappears when the human subjects are given equal upbringing, opportunities, and education. It's a challenging and optimistic hypothesis. I think too many conservatives these days are falling back on the idea that some people (those people) just can't get ahead because they just can't.

AprilApple said...

Perhaps we should look at inner city schools and schools in poorer districts and do something to make education better so that these children have a better chance from the get-go?

School choice, perhaps? End the evil grip of the selfish and corrupt teacher's union? Something.
*See "Waiting for Superman".

Bob Ellison said...

Oh, and of course it must be observed: the "they can't get ahead" conjecture is a knee-jerk assumption by dumb leftists.

furious_a said...

Aside from from the skimming done by the Diversity hustlers (e.g., outside consultants, ever-more bloated adminstrative payrolls), AA at the college level institutionalizes the damage done by substandard public secondary education and defers the reckoning to come from that damage.

Easier to establish racial set-asides for incoming college freshmen (tap the White Guilt Relief Fund) than it is to ensure that minority children can read and calculate at their grade level when they graduate high school (take on Teachers' Unions).

Pogo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Survcon63 said...

Ann, have you talked about this subject with the black professors at your school? I think their odes would be interesting to know.

Lem said...

The potential hazards may not have been properly aired and mitigated because the result of integrating the classroom may have been thought to supersede all other concerns...

I'm not a doctor.. Pogo so maybe he can correct me if I'm wrong... My impression is that the reason why operations take so long is because most of the time is spent making sure the patient doesn't die on the operating table.

It appears Affirmative Action was not all that well thought out.

Survcon63 said...

Ideas - sheesh

Lem said...

I meant to say Pogo is a doctor.

karrde said...

@Bob Ellison, Karnival, Ironclad

I can remember one particular chart in The Economics and Politics of Race: an International Perspective.

That chart shows the median income of three different groups of black-skinned Americans.

Group I had grown up in the United Staes, Group II had grown up in an African nation, and Group III had grown up on a Caribbean island (with strong cultural/historical connections to Britain).

If racial aptitude, or racism in American, was the primary factor in the income of Black Americans, then all three groups should have had similar median incomes.

If cultural attitudes of various groups of black-skinned people was the primary factor in determining income, then we should not be surprised that the three groups have different median incomes.

These three groups did have different median incomes. Group III was closest to the median income of European-descended Americans.

@All and Sundry,

Thomas Sowell has been the most careful commentator on issues of race, economics, and policy in the United States. And he has been making the mismatch argument in his syndicated columns and books for many years.

Sofa King said...

I think too many conservatives these days are falling back on the idea that some people (those people) just can't get ahead because they just can't.

Eventually, it doesn't matter. The root problems in any case are too intractable.

pst314 said...

Ann Althouse said "Even if that's so, people retain their self-respect by nurturing the belief that they are doing good."

I agree, especially since liberalism is about stealing other peoples' property and freedom while posing as a moral paragon.

If you doubt my low opinion of liberals, ask yourself why they always demonized those who dissented from their utopian schemes and refused to honestly consider evidence that threatened their fantasies. It's because nothing but nothing could be allowed to be a valid solution to a problem (or perceived problem) unless it meant more power and money for these apparatchiks.

pst314 said...

Thanks to all who cite the invaluable Thomas Sowell.

Bryan C said...

"Even if that's so, people retain their self-respect by nurturing the belief that they are doing good."

And when they discover that they're not, in fact, doing good, they should revisit their beliefs and change their actions to maintain that self-respect.

That's a painful process, I know. And it's even harder when friends and peers stand ready to accuse them of thoughtcrime.

furious_a said...

Perhaps we should look at inner city schools and schools in poorer districts and do something to make education better so that these children have a better chance from the get-go?

See "schools, parochial".

Bill R said...

Carnifex:

Re: "you are in deep shit. Up to your lower lip, and satan's coming with his ski boat."

A good one.

pst314 said...

Bryan C "That's a painful process, I know. And it's even harder when friends and peers stand ready to accuse them of thoughtcrime."

Indeed.

furious_a said...

Balfegor: . And in my not-terribly-secret racist heart, I suspect that posh upper middle class Whites support affirmative action for academically less-qualified Blacks and Hispanics because they are afraid of what Asians will do to the curve.

Google "Lowell+High+School+San+Francisco+set-asides+lawsuits"

Bryan C said...

"I think too many conservatives these days are falling back on the idea that some people (those people) just can't get ahead because they just can't."

I don't know. These policies have inflicted decades of damage. I think people can recover from almost anything if they're willing to try. What's clear to me, though, is that it's hard to help anyone until their so-called friends are made to stop hurting them.

RonF said...

At MIT, "underrepresented minorities" - e.g., blacks and Hispanics - get preference for admission IF AND ONLY IF they otherwise meet the criteria for admission. If they don't have the test scores and the grades that anyone else would need to be considered for admission they are not considered either. That's because of the truth of what we see here - admitting someone to a school that they are not qualified for simply because of their race does them no favor. They're going to flunk out after having spent a lot of money and time and be much worse off than if they had never attended.

Richard Fagin said...

"It's a painful thought, that you are hurting the people you meant to help. The urge to repress ensues."

'Bout freaking time someone in academia said that!!!! When promoters of racial preferences finally recognize that the preferences demonstrably hurt the people they are intended to help, we may actually be able to have an intelligent debate on the subject.

Sam L. said...

This has been known, and studiously ignored, for LO these many years.

Don't fit the narrative. Not multi-culti. Raaaaaacist.

Bill R said...

Re:
"The mismatch effect happens when a school extends to a student such a large admissions preference ...that the student finds himself in a class where he has weaker academic preparation than nearly all of his classmates."

"weaker academic preparation" is a euphemism. Places like Yale are selecting students in the top 99th percentile in IQ (or better). A kid selected for football talent or the size of his parents' donations is likely to be significantly below this. This is true even if Yale sets the bar at 90%. A person in the 90th percentile is still pretty smart but he's going to have a hard time competing with the others.

"Academic Preparation" has got very little to do with it. You can spend all year "preparing" the captain of the Lacrosse team, it's not going to do much good.

This is a knotty problem. The first step to addressing it is to talk in plain English.

Marshal said...

RonF said...
At MIT, "underrepresented minorities" - e.g., blacks and Hispanics - get preference for admission IF AND ONLY IF they otherwise meet the criteria for admission.


Even if true now his ignores institutional evolution. Diversity mania is now virtually a requirement to become a school administrator at any level. Eventually those running MIT will be replced with the new breed of administrator who will conclude the current process doesn't result in enough diversity.

At that point MIT will reduce the criteria for admissions, claiming anyone who passes is now "qualified". The traditional measures of quality will continue to distinguish between applicants from non-preference demographics, while the preference-granted demographics will be evaluated only amongst themselves. It's a loose version of race-norming and quotas, whereby all criteria are normed according to race/gender applicant averages.

And how do we know this will happen? Because it already has in places very similar to MIT, and the political pressure makes it a near certainty.

Balfegor said...

Re: Marshal:

At that point MIT will reduce the criteria for admissions, claiming anyone who passes is now "qualified". The traditional measures of quality will continue to distinguish between applicants from non-preference demographics, while the preference-granted demographics will be evaluated only amongst themselves. It's a loose version of race-norming and quotas, whereby all criteria are normed according to race/gender applicant averages.

Given that MIT is a math-science heavy school, I think this would be rather difficult. Not impossible, sure, but (a) it's not obvious how to do that practically (it's not like there's a second, easier mathematics just hanging around there) and (b) I'd imagine there's a lot more ingrained cultural resistance to dumbing down the curricula and admissions at schools with a long and proud tradition of academic rigour in the maths and sciences.

Marshal said...

Balfegor said...
Given that MIT is a math-science heavy school, I think this would be rather difficult.(it's not like there's a second, easier mathematics just hanging around there)


Your argument seems to include the implicit belief that the other criteria must relate to math. This belief is unwarranted.


I'd imagine there's a lot more ingrained cultural resistance to dumbing down the curricula and admissions at schools with a long and proud tradition of academic rigour in the maths and sciences.

Yes, which is why it takes longer. But it will happen.

Balfegor said...

Re: Marshal:

Your argument seems to include the implicit belief that the other criteria must relate to math. This belief is unwarranted.

Well sure -- I chose math because that was my major at school. There's also physics, chemistry, engineering, and even bio, etc. In all these cases, there's an actual cumulative program of study where if you miss one rung you'll have difficulty proceeding onto the next. Unless you can dumb down the actual subject, if the admissions process doesn't adequately control for the necessary preparation, your admittees will all just flunk out in the first year. And math and science are hard to dumb down to the necessary level. Yes, you can put in less tricksy problems, but the basic subject is generally complicated enough even without tricks.

Other than maybe bio. I dunno. Bio always seemed a little squishy to me.

Marshal said...

Balfegor said...
Unless you can dumb down the actual subject, if the admissions process doesn't adequately control for the necessary preparation, your admittees will all just flunk out in the first year


This is not necessarily true. They'll underperform sure. Just like they are now at other universies with the mismatch effect ocurring. That doesn't seem to matter much to those pushing the program does it?

But more to the point, so what? Minority admissions allow the administrators to preen their leftist bona fides. Why do you suppose they would care what happens after admission, they don't anywhere else. And if the focus happens to move on to graduates the pressure will increase to convert the gentleman's C to the affirmative action C.

Naturally you will suppose math and science professors would resist based on the objective nature of the answers. But to a diversicrat the only possible answer to racial underperformance is discrimination. To them if the discrimination isn't in the questions, it must be in the teaching. We'll see if the professors stand up to that. No doubt some will, and they'll be replaced over the years as the training of replacements begins to include that concept as a core mission.

Institutional evolution doesn't happen overnight, but it is incredibly difficult to resist. Professors from 50 years ago wouldn't recognize the academy today. In some ways that's a good thing. But the core focus on education has been lost and academia hasn't even recognized that as a problem yet.

but I am a robot said...

Not only detrimental to the success of the individual student, but to race relations: Affirmative action brings otherwise lesser-qualified students to more selective campuses, creating a less intelligent sample that poorly represents the race (as opposed to representation by a more selective sample of elite students). Another way it feeds perceptions of inferiority, in addition to the afore stated:

"Not to mention the disadvantage minorities face when they graduate and enter the job market. Whether or not they were affirmative action admissions, they are often presumed to have been, and as such are not perceived to be as qualified as their peers."

Clarence Thomas's stance on AA, as I understand, was shaped in large part by this effect, which he experienced right after graduating from law school.

patandemma said...

I've also long suspected affirmative action is ,at least,partially responsible for grade inflation. What's the point of admitting the person if the "mismatch" results in the person flunking out? In order to keep the person in school ,the achievement bar has to be lowered--but then it has to be lowered for everybody,doesn't it?

rcommal said...

The teachers' union in Chicago just went on strike because they believe a large number of their students are so unteachable they (the teachers) do not want to be evaluated based on the students' performance.

This speaks to the truth which is the crux of the matter that no one wants to address, much less acknowledge. MayBee nails it. Alas, so many in public education duck it.

And that, as they say, is that. So it goes. The definitive word belongs to the greedy and the cynical.