Jewish World Review Jan. 23, 2003 / 20 Shevat 5763

Clarence Page

Clarence Page
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Affirmative action will be remarketed under new name | Reports of affirmative action's imminent death, as Mark Twain once said of his own, have been greatly exaggerated.

Beneath the storm and bluster from both sides of the debate over race as a factor in college admissions, it appears certain that affirmative action is here to stay. It just might not be called "affirmative action."

It will stay because we are an increasingly diverse society and, for a variety of reasons, responsible people in the business, academic and political worlds are looking for better ways for all of us to get along.

In pursuit of this worthy goal, programs aimed at campus diversity will continue under such rubrics as "priority" admissions or "cultural traditions" or "geographic diversity" or "percentage plans" like the one that Texas launched at its public universities while President Bush was governor.

The plan guarantees acceptance to students who graduate in the top 10 percent of each high-school class, regardless of whether the school is urban, suburban, ghetto or barrio. Florida -- where the president's brother Jeb Bush governs -- and California have similar programs.

The elegance of that strategy is the way it broadens opportunities for lower-income kids in economically undernourished communities, regardless of race.

Unfortunately, it works to achieve its implicit goal of racial and ethnic diversity because America's high schools and its neighborhoods are still mostly segregated.

In fact, the latest report card by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University, released on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, found public schools slipping back into more racial and ethnic segregation.

Growing numbers of black and Latino students in the 2000-2001 school year attended schools where the majority of students were minorities, Gary Orfield, co-director of the Civil Rights Project, said, while white students were likely to attend schools where most of their classmates are white.

If this trend continues, geography can increasingly be used as a proxy for race in order to achieve diversity. Colleges are well experienced at pursuing "affirmative action for Nebraskans" and other versions of geographic diversity.

Indeed, there's nothing new about colleges granting preferences to certain students; this was going on long before race was added to the mix. Yet, to the best of my knowledge, no one has talked about suing Yale for passing over students with higher SAT scores to admit young George W. Bush in the fall of 1964, whose 1206 was about 100 points lower than the average for students admitted that year, according to news reports during the 2000 campaign. His admission was assisted by affirmative action for the offspring of alumni.

Nor have I heard anyone complain that former Democratic Senator Bill Bradley, a Rhodes Scholar, got into Princeton as a self-described "affirmative action case" after receiving only 485 on the verbal part of the SAT, which, by the way, was lower than young Bush's 566.

But race is the only factor that troubles the Bush White House. In submitting his brief in the University of Michigan admissions case now before the Supreme Court, Bush said he "strongly" supports "diversity of all kinds, including racial diversity," but called Michigan's program "fundamentally flawed" by "a quota system that unfairly rewards or penalizes prospective students based solely on their race."

Well, if white and Asian kids are indeed penalized, it's not by much. For example, we do not hear any complaint from the plaintiffs about the white students who were admitted ahead of them, even though they had lower grade point averages and test scores than the white plaintiffs.

As I reported earlier, when lead plaintiff Barbara Grutter's application was rejected in 1996 by the law school, 23 other white applicants were admitted who had lower grade point averages and test scores than she did, according to the university.

And, while the two undergraduate plaintiffs, Jennifer Gratz and Patrick Hamacher, who were B students at Michigan high schools, were rejected, as many as 42 whites or Asians, which the university calls "non-underrepresented minorities," were admitted with both lower grades and lower test scores.

The University of Michigan receives about 25,000 applications for about 5,000 available slots. It's quite possible that the plaintiffs would not have been accepted by the University of Michigan even if race had not been used in the screening process. How is anyone to say that any single factor made the difference that edged them out of admission?

On the contrary, the very fact that race was used now offers them a thread of hope in today's polarized political climate of leapfrogging over other qualified applicants, some of whom may be minorities, to get in anyway.

By any name, affirmative action will still be controversial. Even so, it is healthy for all of us in the long run to have the courts review affirmative action from time to time, see how well it is working - or not working - and modify it.

Affirmative action was never intended to be permanent, but I don't think America is quite ready to get rid of it yet.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on JWR contributor Clarence Page's column by clicking here.


01/13/03: Bond movie offers clues to Korea crisis
01/07/03: Dr. Frist to the rescue … of his party
01/02/03: Feeling a 'draft,' but not much
12/17/02: To rob a burning cross of its power
12/03/02: Closing black-white test-score gaps
11/19/02: Uncle Same wants your data
11/15/02: Marriage vs. 'player' impulse
11/11/02: How Oz can help the Dems
11/05/02: We reserve right to be complicated
10/22/02: What the pro-gun lobby and anti-gun lobby have in common
10/18/02: Take Sharpton seriously? For Prez??
10/15/02: A beauty and the bullies
10/08/02: Time to start 'fingerprinting' bullets
10/08/02: Poet laureate hater fell for Internet hoax
10/04/02: Keeping it real, despite howls from black 'leaders'
10/01/02: Revisiting the 'Jogger' horror
09/27/02: Sometimes freedom is a necessary nuisance
09/13/02: Foil Fidel with free trade
09/10/02: Measuring the myth of 'super weed'
09/06/02: A year later: A reality-check
09/03/02: Make better choices before some jury somewhere does
08/20/02: Bid farewell to the Cigarette Century
08/16/02: Rights matter, even in circus trials
08/09/02: Jousting with Rumsfeld's fog of wit
08/06/02: Covert action is cool again
08/01/02: Powell's premature obituaries
07/30/02: A common sense tip on internal snooping
07/18/02: Jacko plays race card badly
07/12/02: Last flight for a pioneer airman
07/08/02: Dems will miss Watts, too
06/28/02: 'Supreme Court reads polls, too
06/25/02: 'The Body' bites, then bows out
06/21/02: Punishment first, then the crime?
06/18/02: Reporting still risky for Haiti's press
06/14/02: Bush's security plan leaves large gaps
06/04/02: Fix FBI's culture gap first
05/28/02: Fidel's new apartheid for tourists
05/21/02: Now McKinney's lunacy sounds like the Democratic Party line
05/19/02: A paradox of historical proportions
05/14/02: 'Murphy Brown' revisited in age of Ozzy
05/10/02: America looks like a model of tolerance and inclusion
05/07/02: Forget it, Bill, you're no Oprah
04/26/02: Mapping out ethnic and racial change
04/23/02: A game of another color
04/19/02: It's high time to open up pot-law debate
04/11/02: 'Osbourne' family values rock, aging Ozzy quakes
03/22/02: Zimbabwe election leaves world sleepless
03/19/02: A slur? Where is thy sting?
03/15/02: A Pearl of wisdom for reporter's unborn son
03/12/02: Army race and gender policies on trial
03/08/02: A short list of losers to be left behind
03/05/02: Revenge of the 'mediasaurus'
02/26/02: Jihads aren't just for Muslims
02/26/02: It's hard to be 'objective' during wartime
02/19/02: Hollywood's new villain: Your HMO
02/12/02: Father of 'Manchild' leaves lasting message
02/08/02: $nookering the reparations crowd
01/31/02: Prisoners of a War of Words
01/29/02: One more Enron woe: Al Sharpton & company
01/25/02: Searching for slaves in bin Laden's attic
01/22/02: Andrew Young's newest 'friend'
01/08/02: Hard-earned lessons from 9-11
12/18/01: Whatever happened to questions about the birds and the bees?
12/14/01: The "White Negro" Taliban?
12/07/01: Jackson's turn to gloat
11/27/01: Friendly warning from a lover of liberty
11/21/01: The face of hunger is changing
11/15/01: Our troubled sense of trust
11/08/01: Lessons about terror from the 'hood
11/06/01: Getting used to the 'new normal'
11/02/01: Wicked ways to make them talk
10/30/01: It's not just about bin Laden
10/26/01: More than mail fell between the cracks
10/23/01: Terrorists threaten urban recovery, too
10/18/01: Sometimes, assassination warranted
10/15/01: Self-censorship rises again
10/12/01: Contradictions illustrate the complicated nature of the new terrorism
10/05/01: Look who's 'profiling' now
10/01/01: Don't trash liberty to save it
09/28/01: Life, love and cell phones during wartime
09/24/01: How to catch an elusive terrorist
09/21/01: The war I was waiting for
09/17/01: When rage turns to hate
09/13/01: Terror attack tests US, let's give right response
09/06/01: U.S. should have stayed and argued
09/04/01: Columbine killer's parents get upclose and personal
08/31/01: Virtual kids? Log me out
08/28/01: Two Africans, one black, one white, same fight
08/23/01: Sharpton for president
08/20/01: Shaking up the rules on keeping secrets
08/16/01: Bush's u-turn on racial goals
08/09/01: Outsider Bubba comes 'in' again
08/06/01: Not ready for 'color-blindness' yet
08/02/01: Immigration timing couldn't be better
07/26/01: Summer of Chandra: An international traveler's perspective
07/17/01: Overthrowing a régime is only the beginning
07/10/01: Big Brother is watching you, fining you
07/05/01: Can blacks be patriotic? Should they be?
06/19/01: Get 'real' about marriage
06/12/01: Amos, Andy and Tony Soprano
06/07/01: Getting tough with the Bush Twins
06/05/01: Bringing marriage back into fashion
05/31/01: "Ken" and "Johnnie": The odd-couple legal team
05/24/01: Sharpton's challenge to Jackson
05/22/01: Test scores equal (a) MERIT? (b) MENACE? (c) ALL OF ABOVE?
05/17/01: Anti-pot politics squeeze the ill
05/15/01: Was Babe Ruth black?
05/10/01: U.N.'s torture caucus slaps Uncle Sam
05/08/01: 'The Sopranos' a reflection of our times
05/03/01: 'Free-fire' zones, then and now
05/01/01: War on drugs misfires against students
04/26/01: Another athlete gets foot-in-mouth disease
04/23/01: 'Slave' boat mystery reveals real tragedy
04/19/01: McVeigh's execution show
04/12/01: Not this time, Jesse
04/05/01: Dubya is DEFINITELY his own man, you fools!
04/02/01: Milking MLK
03/29/01: The candidate who censored himself?
03/22/01: "Will Hispanics elbow blacks out of the way as the nation's most prominent minority group?"
03/19/01: Blacks and the SATs
03/15/01: The census: How much race still matters in the everyday life of America
03/12/01: Jesse is a victim!
03/08/01: Saving kids from becoming killers
03/01/01: Parents owe "Puffy" and Eminem our thanks

© 2001 TMS