Friday, June 28, 2013

Drum On A Move to Class-Based Affirmative Action


I don't think it's a mystery that 2/3 of Americans support class-based affirmative action and only 1/4 support race-based affirmative action: class-based affirmative action is a more reasonable policy. Race, it has long seemed to me, is a proxy for class/SES. Rich black kids are, on average, more advantaged than poor white kids. Though, of course, a higher percentage of black kids are poor.

So there's decent reason to think that class-based AA is a fairer/better policy than race-based AA. And there's good reason to think that it will be a more popular policy. And finally, as Drum notes:
Carnevale and Rose concluded that class-based policies produce higher graduation rates than either a pure merit-based system (test scores and high school GPAs) or a traditional affirmative action program.
And that's not just a happy consequence of such programs--it is, I'd say, more evidence that such programs are justified. The point of AA programs should be to get at genuine merit, in the sense of something like competence as opposed to performance. That is to say, what we want is a program that will filter out/correct for advantages, preferring students with more potential but fewer achievements to those with more achievements but less potential, when the explanation for the differential is SES. Such a system won't take race into account directly, but it will do so indirectly--so long as race affects SES, at any rate.

A move to class-based affirmative action seems like a win all around to me.


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