Monday, September 12, 2011

Is It Consistent to Have Affirmative Action for Admissions, But Not for Grading in the Classroom?

In 2006, Michigan voters overwhelmingly approved Proposal 2, ending state-sponsored discrimination via race-based preferences in college admissions, hiring, and contracting. But a recent federal court ruling has temporarily overturned the will of Michigan voters, opening the door for affirmative action’s return to Michigan. 

Supporters of affirmative action in college admissions face some tough questions.

Is it consistent to support affirmative action when practiced by a staff member in the admissions or financial aid office of a university in one building on a college campus, but not support "affirmative action grading" when practiced by a college professor on that same college campus in another building?

If race-neutral grading is the accepted standard for the treatment of students in the classroom, can race-based preferences be justified when selecting students for admission to the university in the first place? 

The challenges revealed in these questions and the obvious unacceptability of academic favoritism in the classroom with affirmative action grading explains why Michigan voters ended racial favoritism in college admissions in 2006. 

College students in Michigan are treated as individuals without regard to race by university professors once they enter college and start taking classes. Treating all students as individuals by college admissions officers when they first apply to college will ultimately move us further along toward the ideal of a colorblind society than bringing back admissions practices involving double standards, special preferences, and racial discrimination.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy said: "Simple justice requires that public funds, to which all taxpayers of all races contribute, not be spent in any fashion which encourages, entrenches, subsidizes or results in racial discrimination." 

Hopefully, President Kennedy's vision will prevail in Michigan and the current prohibition of state-sponsored racial discrimination will be upheld by the courts. 

~From my editorial in today's Grand Rapids Press


At 9/12/2011 9:08 AM, Blogger Jim said...

Not to be politically incorrect or anything, but does this article in part explain grade inflation?

At 9/12/2011 9:11 AM, Blogger K Parsons said...

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At 9/12/2011 9:50 AM, Blogger Che is dead said...

"Treating all students as individuals by college admissions officers when they first apply to college will ultimately move us further along toward the ideal of a colorblind society ..."

And that is why the left so strongly resists it. Their entire movement is built on perpetuating a sense of racial grievance. They need, desperately, to convince minorities that the world is stacked against them and that only leftists can save them. This means replacing individual identity with group indentity and individual rights with group rights. Marxist bullshit, plain and simple. The left has just substituted race for class. Once enough people understand that what is truly essential is equality before the law and equality of opportunity, and that their skin color is irrelevant to who they are and what they can accomplish as individuals, the whole marxist enterprise comes crashing down.

At 9/12/2011 9:51 AM, Blogger AIG said...

"ut does this article in part explain grade inflation?"

We have yet to show that such a thing as "grade inflation" is occurring.

At 9/12/2011 12:32 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Yes, as you are making an apples and oranges comparison.

If anything, give US citizens & white males affirmative action status, while taking it away from Asia and Latin America. The population changes in the US would only prove such an action is necessary.

At 9/12/2011 1:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


There is no evidence of grade inflation. There are too many variables to attempt to hold constant to make that claim and prove it past speculation. For example, I would estimate the availability of the Internet alone increased my grades, holding course content constant, at least one letter grade from the mid 1970s to 2008.

Most of the claims of grade inflation have been less than one complete letter grade. Any trend standard has to have a measureable and non-changing referent, and grades (GPA) just don’t have one.

At 9/12/2011 1:50 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

There is overwhelming evidence of grade inflation, see the Grade Inflation website.

And see this CD post with this quote:

"It is likely that at many selective and highly selective schools, undergraduate GPAs are now so saturated at the high end that they have little use as a motivator of students and as an evaluation tool for graduate and professional schools and employers."

At 9/12/2011 2:09 PM, Blogger NormanB said...

In California the relative dumping of Affirmative Action based on race reduced the number of African-American and Hispanic students at the elite universities like Berkeley and UCLA but raised their numbers at the less elite schools. The net result was the same number of total students in the university system and, I think, an increased overall graduation rate. Students being placed in areas that are the most congruent with their abilities should be the rule.

At 9/12/2011 2:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree that grades/GPAs can be measured over an extended time period with scientific accuracy. I can compress the time period and prove it by giving half of my students the same math test using my old slide rule and the other half using a modern calculator or computer. I will make sure both test groups equally understand their tools. I will separate them in half by using their math entrance tests and equalizing the two groups. After that I will have another group do an identical research project using Dewey Decimal card catalogs in the library while I let the other group use Internet sources for their research project. I will compare the scores from my two test groups to see how technology has affected their accomplishments. Of course, if my students find out what I am doing, they will be pissed off. And technology is just one of the multiple factors that can influence grades over time.

As far as comparing SATs and GPAs, both the percentage of high school students who take the test and the test itself has changed too much to use that over an extended time.

I am not saying grade inflation does not exist, and it is an interesting topic for discussion. I just don't think the methodology I have seen to prove it is reliable or valid.

I would not use a GPA as a critical factor as an employer to figure out which employee to hire. I have had "A" students who I would not hire and "C" students who I would. GPAs are only one piece of a complicated puzzle for a good hire.

At 9/12/2011 2:49 PM, Blogger AIG said...

Mark, I see the point they (and you) are trying to make. But I don't see how the conclusion can be reached that there is grade inflation. I agree with Walt on this (and I pointed this out a few times before too). In my opinion, and based on my experience, the course material and teaching techniques in undergrad simply haven't kept up with student's abilities. Information is available at an instant, calculators (with memory!...profs forget that so often) are available to everyone. And yet the tests and work is the same as it has always been. Well, a chem 101 professor today can't expect to post some HW questions for their students, and think they are challenging them in any way (not if those questions were taken out of the teacher's handbook, which is available in its entirety through the schools p2p network!)

At 9/22/2011 5:34 PM, Blogger Inspector Clouseau said...

There are many complexities associated with affirmative action programs and policies. However, one issue which we continually ignore, as is the case with most government related programs and initiatives, is whether it is effective in addressing past wrongs. Think about this: How many beneficiaries of affirmative action programs have actually shared their good fortune with other members of their particular ethnic group, as opposed to using their increased opportunities and wealth to distance themselves from the masses of minority citizens?


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