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Author Topic: Why Affirmative Action is Justified  (Read 89136 times)

redemption

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2006, 02:38:37 PM »
  Do you know of data concerning the comparative career success of AA admits from other schools?  If the results of the Michigan survey hold across the board, and I have no reason to think they wouldn't, then this speaks volumes towards the motivation to provide AA.  This of course begs the question: Does the end justify the means? 


The Michigan data is, to my knowledge, the only comprehensive data set available on this topic.

I don't know of any reason to think that the Michigan data would be unrepresentative of the national trend.

aerynn

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2006, 02:42:11 PM »
I would like to see a great examination of the "diversity" argument in favor of AA.

Blacks may suffer from a stereotype bias, but what about the poor?  In my experience, poor kids, who have not had educational role models, have gone to bad schools, etc. tend to think of themselves as at a disadvantage on standardized tests vs. wealthy, advantaged kids.  It seems that this would be an argument for using socioeconomic class as a factor in AA as well.

For me, the diversity argument is a more compelling justification.  Yes, AA benefits those minority candidates that underperformed on the standardized LSAT test.  But it also benefits everyone in the class with them, who receives the benefit of a unique viewpoint in the group.  Especially in law school, where the socratic method and learning from fellow students is a big factor, I think diversity is vital.  It doesn't matter if a student is poor and black or rich and black.  His or her minority status will give a different perspective (as shown in the stereotype bias test where minority students filled in the missing letters differently than White students.)
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redemption

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2006, 02:48:30 PM »
If the LSAT measures ability to succeed during the first year of law school, and if blacks are adversely affected by a "stereotype threat" when taking the LSAT, is there any reason to think that they would not suffer this same sort of mental lapse during their first-year exams?  When would the stereotype threat expire?  Would they perform worse at law firms or on the BAR as well?   

I don't deny that blacks (especially high-achieving ones) may suffer because of stereotypes regarding their racial group's intelligence.  However, I don't see how the solution to this problem could reasonably involve artificial inflation of black test scores.  Such a measure would just further this "stereotype threat."


If the LSAT measures ability to succeed during the first year of law school, and if blacks are adversely affected by a "stereotype threat" when taking the LSAT, is there any reason to think that they would not suffer this same sort of mental lapse during their first-year exams?  When would the stereotype threat expire?  Would they perform worse at law firms or on the BAR as well?   

I don't deny that blacks (especially high-achieving ones) may suffer because of stereotypes regarding their racial group's intelligence.  However, I don't see how the solution to this problem could reasonably involve artificial inflation of black test scores.  Such a measure would just further this "stereotype threat."

I think the problem is that no other solutions have been reasonably attempted. While AA's effect on sterotype threat is uncertain, it will probably help to reduce other causes of the black/white acheivement gap (SES for example). Also, it's important to note that no one is saying this is THE cause of black underachievement. It's just one of a myriad of possible reasons that hasn't been widely discussed.


This is a good question from Hank Reardon, and a good answer from Leo.

There is no question that stereotype threat exists in 1st year exams. The question, as Leo suggests, is that there are potential remedies to the stereotype threat that have been tried very successfuly at the undergraduate level (and in very challenging courses) that have very dramatically reduced this effect.

The 21st Century Program at Michigan is one such example. This program reduced the race gap in GPA.

Here's some blurb on it:

"At the University of Michigan, Steele helped design the 21st Century Program as one alternative. The program is a racially integrated transition program for new students that includes voluntary, challenging workshops in addition to regular classes and a seminar on adjustment to college life. In its first two years of operation, black students in the program earned significantly better grades than a control group of black students, and those in the top two-thirds of the standardized test distribution earned first semester grades essentially the same as white students with equivalent entering tests scores. "We also know from follow-up data that their higher grade performance continued at least through their sophomore year, and that by that time, only one of them had dropped out," Steele reported."

The problem is that these kinds of intelligent approaches to reducing the disparate effect of the stereotype threat are pilot-tested, proven successful, and then abandoned or not replicated.

I think that it would be fair and worthwhile for law schools to institute these kinds of programs.

redemption

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2006, 02:51:56 PM »
Thank you for your thoughtful response to my post, Red. I'm learning a lot from this thread and it's also helping me resolve questions I have about AA as a supporter of AA. I guess I don't have much to say because I agree with many of the points you raised and didn't know about others so I have homework to do :)

Cheers. Thanks for leading the discussion off to a great start

redemption

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2006, 02:55:10 PM »
I would like to see a great examination of the "diversity" argument in favor of AA.

I think that there's a case to be made for AA based on a diversity rationale. I think, though, that most people understand the thinking behind it, and either reject or accept it.

I don't know that any further debate about it will change anyone's mind. Nor do I think that it would deepen their understanding about the arguments for or against AA.

redemption

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2006, 03:04:07 PM »

I wonder why this happens. It can't be short attention span because the program you described seems to have produced results relatively quickly. It wasn't an unnecessary drain on resources because it was proven successful, after all...yet it was abandoned anyway. I don't understand why so much research goes into figuring out the reasons for the achievement gap between blacks and whites if the suggestions are going to be ignored.

I don't know why it happens either, but it is not unique to this issue: the field of public health, for example, is replete with pilot projects that have proven highly efficacious, highly cost-effective, and have nevertheless been abandoned after the pilot test is over. The same, I think, is true in every field of social action.


goodgal

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #16 on: June 08, 2006, 03:07:48 PM »
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John Galt

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2006, 03:14:34 PM »
I've seen similar studies before, although the "phenomenon" was called the Pygmalion Effect.  It seems as though this entire argument rests on the presumption that

a) this stereotype threat exists andb) if it does in fact exists, it justifies corrective action

.

ummm....I don't think there is any dispute that it exists. And why wouldn't it justify corrective action?

redemption

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2006, 03:20:19 PM »
I've seen similar studies before, although the "phenomenon" was called the Pygmalion Effect.  It seems as though this entire argument rests on the presumption that

a) this stereotype threat exists and
b) if it does in fact exists, it justifies corrective action

.

Sure. Although I'm taking pains not to presume these things but to demonstrate that all available scientific evidence says that they do exist. I have cited the studies, and they have not been challenged methodologically or in terms of their results. Quite the opposite, they have been replicated many times over, and for various groups: blacks, whites, women etc., with the same results. I encourage yoou to to read what I have posted in great detail, to follow up with the citations, and to respond to them in a thoughtful and nuanced way.

That this effect justifies correction is not a presumption of my argument, but its conclusion. I encourage you to have a look at the outline of my narrative (the first post) and to see where its weaknesses as an argument may lie.

redemption

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #19 on: June 08, 2006, 03:25:14 PM »
I dont have any problem with AA, but I dont think "Stereotype Threat" is a very good justification.

I can't help but be skeptical when someone claims they can radically alter your behavior by placing a hex on you.  Especially when that hex is predicated on something as complex as your identity.  Even if the stereotype threat is sound, and there is proof it gets articulated in the context of race/gender, that does nothing to discount the potential zillions of other insecurities every individual is functioning under in that test room. Arent they entitled to consideration for the unrealistic expectations, and assumptions they are operating under. Isnt it stressful being a rich white man with all the expectations that you come out ahead in everything?

Its the same thing with a polygraph test.  They can ask you a question and you will register a response but there are a zillion psychological factors that can go into that physical response beyond whether you are lying.

Okay, this is interesting.

There are of course individual differences in the way that people respond to stereotype threat. On the other hand, the studies that I have cited demonstrate a systematic response by the groups - blacks, whites, women, asians - that are based on the identity that is relevant to the threat being examined.

It would be remarkable -- and, in social science, nearly impossible -- for these results to be coincidental.

I encourage you to read carefully what I have excerpted, and if you have specific concerns (rather than a general "I'm skeptical of social psychology"), go ahead and post what those concerns are.