How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It's Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won't Admit It

Book - 2012
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The debate over affirmative action has raged for over four decades, with little give on either side. Most agree that it began as noble effort to jump-start racial integration; many believe it devolved into a patently unfair system of quotas and concealment. Now, with the Supreme Court set to rule on a case that could sharply curtail the use of racial preferences in American universities, law professor Richard Sander and legal journalist Stuart Taylor offer a definitive account of what affirmative action has become, showing that while the objective is laudable, the effects have been anything but.

Sander and Taylor have long admired affirmative action's original goals, but after many years of studying racial preferences, they have reached a controversial but undeniable conclusion: that preferences hurt underrepresented minorities far more than they help them. At the heart of affirmative action's failure is a simple phenomenon called mismatch. Using dramatic new data and numerous interviews with affected former students and university officials of color, the authors show how racial preferences often put students in competition with far better-prepared classmates, dooming many to fall so far behind that they can never catch up. Mismatch largely explains why, even though black applicants are more likely to enter college than whites with similar backgrounds, they are far less likely to finish; why there are so few black and Hispanic professionals with science and engineering degrees and doctorates; why black law graduates fail bar exams at four times the rate of whites; and why universities accept relatively affluent minorities over working class and poor people of all races.

Sander and Taylor believe it is possible to achieve the goal of racial equality in higher education, but they argue that alternative policies--such as full public disclosure of all preferential admission policies, a focused commitment to improving socioeconomic diversity on campuses, outreach to minority communities, and a renewed focus on K-12 schooling --will go farther in achieving that goal than preferences, while also allowing applicants to make informed decisions. Bold, controversial, and deeply researched, Mismatch calls for a renewed examination of this most divisive of social programs--and for reforms that will help realize the ultimate goal of racial equality.
Publisher: New York : Basic Books, 2012
ISBN: 9780465029969
Branch Call Number: 379.2 Sander 2012
Characteristics: xix, 348 p. : ill. ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Taylor, Stuart 1948-


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Vincent T Lombardo Dec 27, 2015

The authors of this book are very much in favor of qualified students going to college regardless of race or socioeconomic status, but they question the efficacy of racial preferences, which often do a disservice to the students they are supposed to assist. However, this is a dense, fact based, data driven book that reads like an academic treatise. I found it very difficult to get through and skimmed most of it. Instead of reading this book, I highly recommend reading recent Op-Ed pieces in the Wall Street Journal by one of the authors, Richard Sander, and by Jason Riley. They make the same points as this book but do it far more clearly and succinctly!

RoninDRE Mar 04, 2013

This excellent, important book, with groundbreaking work, shows, empirically, how the phenomenon mismatch,pushing academically under-prepared students into high level colleges, hurts those students' academic success and life prospects. Applying this to racial preference schemes within affirmative action, they show how AA hurts minorities and perpetuates the very stereotypes AA is purported to help end. This book should not and truly cannot be ignored. I was persuaded. The educational answers lie somewhere else.


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