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Author Topic: Why Affirmative Action is Justified  (Read 86335 times)

plaintext

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #70 on: June 09, 2006, 03:13:40 PM »
plaintext, I'm having a hard time figuring out what you're asking or stating exactly. Probably my fault, but it may help me if you listed what your exact concern(s) is/are.

As for the studies, I have cited them so that you can look them up for yourself. There is nothing in them that I'm trying to hide.



red,

these are your boys.  see page 450, per competing cpgnitive processes.  my post was pure extapolation based on my understanding of cognition, however it wasn't that far off the mark per actual research.

http://www.psych.umn.edu/courses/spring06/mcguem/psy8935/readings/schmader2003.pdf



redemption

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #71 on: June 09, 2006, 03:48:25 PM »
Excellent, thanks. I'll read this and re-read your post and get back to you.  :)

Thou

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #72 on: June 09, 2006, 04:21:39 PM »
8 pages....uhhhh....I hate catching up.
Law is surprisingly false tolerant.

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #73 on: June 09, 2006, 05:00:08 PM »
8 pages....uhhhh....I hate catching up.

It is worth it.
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SouthSide

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #74 on: June 09, 2006, 06:03:29 PM »
Some generally interesting things to chew on in this thread. Here are a couple thoughts that I don't think have been adequately made thus far.

First, nothing said so far should be taken as a criticism of the LSAT itself. Many have argued that standardized tests are inherently culturally or racially biased, such as the famous case of the question that relied on an understanding of the word "regatta." While these biases may be present in the LSAT, this has nothing to do with the problem of "stereotype threat." In fact, the LSAT has proven to be the single most reliable predictor of performance in law school, a point which should not be glossed over. The widespread use of standardized tests in the past century was an important progressive accomplishment, playing a key role in transforming our nation's top universities from coddling grounds for East Coast elites into national meritocratic educational institutions. We shouldn't lose sight of that fact, and we should be very cautious of throwing out the baby with the bath water when we criticize standardized testing.

Second, the application of this point to the AA argument as made by red. It is critical to realize that the problem of stereotype threat exists because of deep-rooted cultural attitudes and prejudices, which appear to exert a powerful effect on all people at some  level. To put it bluntly, people tend to perform up to or down to the expectations of those around them. Thus, if one believes in the existence of the stereotype threat, one must realize that no test, however perfectly designed to predict law school performance, would ever solve the problem of score differential between racial groups so long as these stereotypes existed. Indeed, the more widely respected the test gets as a predictor of performance, the more pronounced the problem would be. The problem is not in the test, but in social attitudes.

Thus, there is a compelling argument to use Affirmative Action based on simple fairness and accurate prediction of true performance in law school. However, the bitter irony is that AA itself does help to entrench some of the very same racial stereotypes that cause the performance differential in the first place. Make no mistake: AA does send the message that different racial groups can not compete on a level playing ground. While our society puts out this destructive message in many ways, no other way commands the institutional support of affirmative action. This board has ample examples of the rancor and bitterness thrown around by those who believe that some people are getting into schools that they are unqualified for. Such rancor would be impossible if there were no AA.

Thus, we have a conundrum. AA is an important corrective to a biased admissions process, and yet AA contributes to the biases that it is intended to correct. Indeed, the gaps in scores on the SAT have not gotten smaller in the past 15 years, a fact that frustrates the hopes of many, including the Supreme Court, that AA will one day be unnecessary. Solving this problem is a very difficult square to circle. Clearly, we need to do a better job of providing equal access to education from a very young age, but this would not eliminate the stereotype threat. One wonders if perhaps better education about issues like the stereotype threat would be helpful in reducing it. I do believe that affirmative action is an important part of any just college admissions program in a prejudiced country, but I do not think it is in any way a permanent solution. I fear that it may ultimately prove an obstacle to some of the deeper reforms that need to be done.
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redemption

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #75 on: June 09, 2006, 06:35:53 PM »
Hey, Southside -- great post. I have some more extensive thoughts that I want to post in response, and, since I have a free evening ahead of me, I will in a little bit along with my responses to Lurking3L, plaintext, umd blue devil and others.

I want to say right now, though, that there are broad areas of agreement between your position and mine. I too rest my justification of AA on simple fairness and predictive ability, and I too have concerns about the long term consequences of not addressing the stereotype problem and the root causes.

Where we disagree, I think, is in our view of the LSAT's role in this process. I believe that the LSAT amplifies these stereotype threat effects, and does so to an even greater extent than usual standardized tests. Given that it predicts no more than 11% of the variance in grades between one student and another, I believe that the costs of using of the LSAT vastly outweigh its benefits.

In any case, I will expand more on this and other points in a bit.

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #76 on: June 09, 2006, 07:13:51 PM »
This board has ample examples of the rancor and bitterness thrown around by those who believe that some people are getting into schools that they are unqualified for. Such rancor would be impossible if there were no AA.

I have to disagree with that last statement. It somewhat contradicts your (important) point that stereotype threat will never really disappear. There are some people, quite a few examples on this board, who have it ingrained in their heads that blacks are inferior. That's not going to disappear if you eliminate AA.

I take your point, to a certain extent. I do think that affirmative action is at least an aggravating factor, and that it does send a powerful, pernicious message. Also, I never made the point that stereotypes and the many problems they create will never really disappear. It remains my (perhaps naively idealistic) belief that a society without prejudice is both possible and desirable, although I admit it's a long way to the promised land.

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #77 on: June 09, 2006, 07:55:52 PM »
This board has ample examples of the rancor and bitterness thrown around by those who believe that some people are getting into schools that they are unqualified for. Such rancor would be impossible if there were no AA.

I have to disagree with that last statement. It somewhat contradicts your (important) point that stereotype threat will never really disappear. There are some people, quite a few examples on this board, who have it ingrained in their heads that blacks are inferior. That's not going to disappear if you eliminate AA.

I take your point, to a certain extent. I do think that affirmative action is at least an aggravating factor, and that it does send a powerful, pernicious message. Also, I never made the point that stereotypes and the many problems they create will never really disappear. It remains my (perhaps naively idealistic) belief that a society without prejudice is both possible and desirable, although I admit it's a long way to the promised land.

I generally take Spaulding's perspective that prejudice and stereotypes are justificatory and not the base causes of racial inequality. Nonetheless, I agree (though I wouldn't have known to agree prior to my six months at LSD) that race-based affirmative action is an aggravating factor in racial tension and resentment.  (I would argue that it still does more good than harm for African American and other minority communities because of the public service commitment of so many law school graduates who are beneficiaries of affirmative action.) 

My question is this: instead of trying to minimize affirmative action in order to reduce this tension/resentment, why can't we imagine reframing the issue of "fairness" at its root?  Right now, some ask whether affirmative action is fair.  We should instead ask whether the LSAT is fair.  This thread, I think, is doing an admirable job of trying to make that shift, and I don't see why we can't try to do so on a large-scale basis.  Otherwise, we're just caving in to the notion that there is something inherently wrong with affirmative action, that racial difference is symmetrical, etc.

I understand that the revolution in standardized testing has created access to higher education for a lot of lower-class whites and some immigrants (though I think it's it's likely that its utility, if not that of most earlier standardized testing, is played out at this point).  Still, it is very possible to criticize the test based on its prima facie racial bias (regardless of whether this stems from "stereotype threat") while advocating its use in a more limited fashion, such as a threshold score, that would retain its class-integration potential. 
That's cool how you referenced a case.

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #78 on: June 09, 2006, 08:01:33 PM »
But, according to Sanders' study, the LSAT does accurately reflect african americans' performance in law school.  If the LSAT was not accurately reflecting african american applicants' potential to do well in law school, wouldn't we expect african americans to perform, as a group, at a higher level than their scores would indicate? 

Okay, a fair question that deserves a full answer. I'm a bit tipsy at the moment, and I'll attempt to do some justice to the answer tomorrow morning.

Hey red., did you ever get around to thinking about this?  Sorry if you responded and I missed it.

I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but if, due to stereo type threat, the LSAT was understating URMs ability on the LSAT, we would expect the achievement gap to close in law school, but that is simply not the case.  Thus, the implication, and this was spelled out by Sanders, is that the LSAT is effectively measuring URMs ability to perform in law school.

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Re: Why Affirmative Action is Justified (by red.)
« Reply #79 on: June 09, 2006, 08:35:42 PM »
red, you're like the teacher that no one f*cks with. 

this thread rocks.

keep it going, i want to tear down the LSAT too!