Affirmative Action & Schools Today (by Guest Blogger Kira Lander)

Note: This post is in response to the following November 2012 article by Ethan Bronner of the New York Times: “Asian-Americans in the Argument.”

This recent article in the New York Times discusses affirmative action, past discriminations, and using race to determine school admissions, similar to the discussion we had about Brown v. Board of Education and what has been going on in Seattle. However this article approaches it from the Asian-American identity side of the issue, which is interesting to hear more about since I feel we have primarily focused on African-American and Hispanic race issues.

This article also does a good job at staying neutral about the issue, presenting both pros and cons for multiple different races about the use of affirmative action.  It is a complex issue and the article addresses it as such.

Does reading this article with additional information and perspectives on the issue change any of the opinions you had after we discussed race based school admissions previously in week 3?  What points stood out to you that you had not considered before?  Do you believe we should implement affirmative action or not?

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6 thoughts on “Affirmative Action & Schools Today (by Guest Blogger Kira Lander)

  1. What an interesting article Kira.
    I was struck by the comment that Asian-Americans are considered model minorities because they make few political requests and keep their head down. It really made me think because she went on to say:

    “Our parents taught us that whatever we do, we should honor our family name. So you find ways to make top grades and not rock the boat.”

    It is a cultural point of view that I have not heard expressed in the other two groups that I commonly think of as minorities, Hispanics and African-Americans. This article really makes me rethink my favoritism for affirmative action. It is funny but as I was reading the article I kept thinking about Darwinism. According to the article Asians are being rejected in favor of poorer performing students and if that were true then natural selection wouldn’t be occurring.

    What I mean is; is it fair to bolster African-American and Hispanic students up when there is another minority group that is succeeding, perhaps due to cultural ideals, and that successful minority group, which has suffered as well as the previous two groups, experiences even more discrimination based on their cultural norms of hard work?

    • You make a very interesting point about the similarities to natural selection, except working in the opposite… Especially in the paragraph that quotes, ““If you look at the Ivy League, you will find that Asian-Americans never get to 20 percent of the class,” said Daniel Golden, author of “The Price of Admission” and editor at large for Bloomberg News. “The schools semiconsciously say to themselves, ‘We can’t have all Asians.’”

      By proving their abilities, they have essentially created harsher affirmative action against themselves. It really seems to punish individuals for their race as a whole being successful. If a lower percentage of them was doing very well, the few who really did would stand out more and probably receive more benefits. But because there are many doing well, many individuals miss out in order to prevent their entire race from continuing to overpower the successes of others.

  2. Kira,

    Thank you for your post! Admission based on race and ethnicity is not a new thing; it has been used for a long time by many universities to so called create a diverse campus environment. However, just like what I had mentioned before, I personally don’t see much benefits from a diverse environment, because I think that people with similar backgrounds still tend to coagulate, and that doesn’t mean they can’t succeed. Some may view this as a form of segregation, but it’s people’s choice! Besides using race as a criterion for admitting students, many universities use another form of techniques to bar people from climbing up. For example, SAT, ACT, AP tests, and COMPASS are standardized methods used by higher education to say to assess students ability in learning as well as in performing, but I perceive it as a mean to filter out the ones who are less mentally capable. This is reality, and it may seem not fair either, but the system is set up this way. So what can we do in school to achieve a balance from the difference in IQ per se? Is there even such thing existed before, or maybe after some human history?

    Like what Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. had described: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race”. Certainly, saying is way easier than doing the actual thing. That’s why I want to argue how we’re going to achieve this where our root of discrimination is so deep into the soil of our backyard, and merely spraying herbicide on top will not solve the problem. Maybe affirmation action is the first step in achieving final peace as Ms Varghese had described that the model minority stereotype is not going to protect us (the minority). Yet, does everyone in the minority pool deserve the benefits besides mentioning the cons from it?

  3. Something that stood out to me was the idea that if schools allowed as many Asian students as they could, through testing, it would destroy a diverse environment and hinder integration. I feel like this is similar to reasons why we argue that a school shouldn’t be all white, but at the same time, there’s something strange about it that I can’t put my finger on. Did anyone else experience a brow furrowing at that?

  4. I think Affirmative Action would be better used if it were based on socio-economic status rather than race. It would still promote diversity; it would just do so in a different way than basing it entirely on race. When deciding between two people who got the same score on a test, and if one person had an affluent mommy and daddy holding their hand the entire way and paying a lot of money for things like an expensive school while the other person worked during high school to help pay the rent, then yes, I’m going to say the person from the lower economic background is the smarter, more hard working person.

  5. I do not have a answer to this i think that some action should be taken but i have no idea what that action would be that would have a positive and not a negative affect on the current situation. But i think that affirmative action should be taken in elementary school to make any real change to help the kids grow in to tolerate adults.

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