Thursday, October 11, 2012

Affirmative Action Court Case: Can the University of Texas "help" Black and Latino Students Gain Admission?

In an earlier article, we looked at "affirmative action" in regard to Stuyvesant High School in New York City.  This is a school that uses one very difficult test to determine who will be admitted.  They do not consider any other factor other than the test score.

This has caused the racial demographics of the school to be skewed.  Only about 5 % of the student population is Black and Latino.  In America, Black and Latino students traditionally underperform compared to Asian and White students.

Universities wish to avoid this lack of diversity by "helping" Black and Latino students.  This often means that Black and Latino students will be given extra points in the admissions process.  Indeed, this is what happened in 2008.  A white student was denied admission to the University of Texas because a black student, with lower overall scores, was given extra points.  So the "worse" student took the "better" student's place at the university.

The University of Texas, however, feels that diversity is an important social goal and that even if a few students are hurt by affirmative action, it benefits everyone in the long run.

There are many questions pertaining to affirmative action in the Stuyvesant posting (please refer to that posting for other conversation questions).

1)  Which is more important, the right of the individual student to gain admission based on his/her own merits or the need for universities to be diverse?

2)  Why do you think Black and Latino students underperform compared to White and Asian students on standardized tests?  Is it due to differences in "culture" or do you think that poor social and economic issues are harming the Black and Latino communities?

3)  If you believe that poverty may be causing a low performance for Black and Latino students, what would you say to a person who points out that many immigrant Asian families are quite poor but their children perform well in schools?

4)  Let's say that a student has not has as many educational opportunities as most other students because of his parents' low income.  Doesn't this student deserve some extra points in the admissions process? Shouldn't we look at a student's background and reward those students who have had to face difficulties because of race or poverty?

5)  Studies show that the more money a family makes, the higher the family's child will score on the SAT test.  Shouldn't poorer students be given extra points because of this data?  Doesn't it seem as if the more wealth a person has the better his child's chances of success in school are?

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