Friday, January 07, 2005

An Interesting Take on Affirmative Action

One of the critiques of affirmative action programs, especially in education, is that they do more harm than good in the long run. The theory goes that by granting black students admission to schools or programs based on something other than merit, it reinforces stereotypes that blacks aren't capable of making it on their own. This "stigma" argument is well worn, but an upcoming law review article attempts to examine more concrete evidence of the problems of affirmative action programs.

Specifically, the author argues (using extensive statistical analysis) that law schools that give excess weight to race in their admissions policies set up many black students, who might not have made the cut without an affirmative action plan, to fail both academically and when it comes time to take the bar exam. This performance gap exists not only at the top tier law schools (Harvard, Yale, Cal, etc.), but trickles down the line all the way to the non-ABA accredited mail-order diploma mills. Vikram Amar lays out the theory in more detail over at Findlaw today, and will examine critiques of the results next week.

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