While there’s clearly debate about the benefits and drawbacks of focusing on income in lieu of race, there’s general agreement among researchers that when students arrive on campuses because of affirmative action, whatever the kind, they are entirely capable of succeeding. Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce found that white students who score in the bottom half on tests have a graduation rate of 75 percent at the country’s most selective schools, while those in the top half have a graduation rate of 88 percent. For students of color, the graduation rate are 73 and 85 percent, respectively. The center also found that when average students attend the country’s best colleges, their rate of graduation goes up by 26 percent.
An Argument for Moving From Race to Class
Richard D. Kahlenberg | June 4, 2015
Still, critics ask: Is the country ready to move beyond racial preferences when skin color so patently continues to matter in American society? Is a nation in which the headlines are dominated by the disgraceful deaths of unarmed black men—from Eric Garner to Walter Scott to Freddie Gray—really in a position to get beyond race? Not if moving beyond race means repealing civil-rights laws. Explicit race-based laws still play a crucial role in fighting ongoing discrimination in housing, employment, education, voting, and the criminal-justice system, as will police body cameras and more resources for civil-rights enforcement.
Racial preferences in education are a different matter. Factoring in skin color at select private colleges is worth the equivalent of a 310 SAT-point boost (on a 400-1600-point scale) for black students over white students, according to one study. As Johnson, King, and Moynihan recognized, class-based alternatives to these programs don’t ignore the continuing role of race; they leverage the reality of discrimination to promote the kind of racial and ethnic diversity that America’s colleges need. ...
The attacks on racial affirmative action, including those from voters and from conservative judges, may represent an opportunity to pick up the progressive thread of thought first developed a half century ago by Johnson, King, Moynihan, and Rustin, filling a need for economic affirmative action that has only grown stronger over time.
Can Outreach Programs Do the Work of Affirmative Action?
Brenda Iasevoli | February 28, 2014
The Early Academic Outreach Program aims to provide poor students with the benefits equivalent to those enjoyed by their affluent counterparts: individualized college counseling, help filling out applications and financial aid forms, free PSAT and SAT prep, campus visits, even enrichment classes on Saturdays and during the summer. …
Gandara’s upcoming book on UCLA’s outreach programs aims to offer EAOP as an alternative model to the use of affirmative action for universities everywhere, so that students like Membreno don’t lose their way. The model is simple: share the steps for getting to college, and help students take the steps one by one. Advisers say students can use a little reassurance along the way, too.