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Author Topic: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?  (Read 16608 times)

aerynn

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2006, 12:52:54 AM »
Why does AA need justification? Because any law needs justification. Aside from that, I also think lawmakers need to show that AA is the best solution to the problem. Saying that a law needs no justification is a step I'm not willing to take, and those of you who agreed with the OP might want to question what would become of society if this was a policy we all adopted.

I think the OP is referring to the context in red.'s thread, about justifying it to bitter white kids who feel like they were denied in order to let in AA kids.  Not legal justification in the eyes of the courts (or are you referring to the legislature?).
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Towelie

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2006, 01:05:30 AM »
Why does AA need justification? Because any law needs justification. Aside from that, I also think lawmakers need to show that AA is the best solution to the problem. Saying that a law needs no justification is a step I'm not willing to take, and those of you who agreed with the OP might want to question what would become of society if this was a policy we all adopted.

I think the OP is referring to the context in red.'s thread, about justifying it to bitter white kids who feel like they were denied in order to let in AA kids.  Not legal justification in the eyes of the courts (or are you referring to the legislature?).


I think any law needs justification - not only to the courts and legislature, but also to the people the law affects. However, I don't think it should be justified by random people on an internet message board.

That said, I am a huge opponent of AA and take issue with your classification of those who oppose it as "bitter white kids who feel like they were denied in order to let in AA kids". First off, although I certainly don't feel this way, it is a valid claim. Aside from that, there is certainly a valid argument against AA which is not rooted in racism or bitterness, but rather in equality and the hope that instead of bumping minority applicants up, we as a culture can find a system where students can score the same - regardless of their race, gender, or creed. If this means revamping the LSAT, then so be it. If this means improving our school system (particularly in impovershed areas), so be it. But, for the life of me, I cannot and will not conceed that the proper answer is giving certain minority groups a literal bump on the LSAT. Even if that policy does make law school more diverse, it makes it seem as if we have just admitted that minorities cannot do better on the test and, instead of investigating and changing that, we should just bump their scores up to make it fair. Seems absurd to me.
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aerynn

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2006, 01:27:37 AM »
It is not valid to claim AA admits are the reason a non-minority did not get admitted.  Why not blame the rich kid who took a year off on daddy's dime to study the LSAT with prep courses and private tutors for having an inflated LSAT even though he does not have more ability? Why not just suck it up and think, "Hey, the class must have had some really amazing candidates who were simply better than I am."

Instead there is a lot of talk about how AA kids are taking spots unfairly.  How many AA admits do people think there really are?  Why focus on the minority kids over all the other "unfair" admits?  At the heart of it, I can't help but think that focus is indicative of a certain degree of racism.     
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Towelie

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2006, 02:39:47 AM »
It is not valid to claim AA admits are the reason a non-minority did not get admitted.  Why not blame the rich kid who took a year off on daddy's dime to study the LSAT with prep courses and private tutors for having an inflated LSAT even though he does not have more ability? Why not just suck it up and think, "Hey, the class must have had some really amazing candidates who were simply better than I am."

Instead there is a lot of talk about how AA kids are taking spots unfairly.  How many AA admits do people think there really are?  Why focus on the minority kids over all the other "unfair" admits?  At the heart of it, I can't help but think that focus is indicative of a certain degree of racism.     


I guess the claim that I meant was valid was that a lot of people think that with their numbers they would have been admitted to a school that is drastically better than the one they are attending had they been a minority.. and it's hard to debate that.

However, I will agree that the kids who say "minorities took my spot!" are idiots. My claim is that rather than giving minorities extra points on the LSAT or a less stringent admission's policy, we should instead not take the easy way out and fight the root of the problem. As I said earlier, if this means fixing the LSAT itself, then I am for it.. and if this means completely revamping our nation's public school system, then I am for that too. But simply sitting back and accepting that certain minority groups are doing worse and having the only response being to lessen admission's standards seems pretty lazy to me, and not the right answer.
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aerynn

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2006, 09:35:31 AM »
While I think that Towlie and others who oppose AA because it doesn't address the larger problem are making a good point, at the same time I think they are asking a question AA was never meant to answer.  Restructuring society and the educational system to be free of racial bias is a wonderful idea; AA is one solution to what you do in the meantime, especially since on some level I think that simply time and incremental steps forward are going to accomplish the larger goal.  Seeing minority students in the classroom at all levels of education, including grad school, are one way to reduce racism.  It is not the only way.  It probably isn't the best way.  But it is a step forward, however flawed that step is.

If there is something better, propose it.  But advocating that the American educational system should be free of racial bias is more of a wish than a plan.
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Infinity

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #15 on: July 29, 2006, 01:43:24 PM »
While I think that Towlie and others who oppose AA because it doesn't address the larger problem are making a good point, at the same time I think they are asking a question AA was never meant to answer.  Restructuring society and the educational system to be free of racial bias is a wonderful idea; AA is one solution to what you do in the meantime, especially since on some level I think that simply time and incremental steps forward are going to accomplish the larger goal.  Seeing minority students in the classroom at all levels of education, including grad school, are one way to reduce racism.  It is not the only way.  It probably isn't the best way.  But it is a step forward, however flawed that step is.

If there is something better, propose it.  But advocating that the American educational system should be free of racial bias is more of a wish than a plan.

I think this is spot on.

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #16 on: July 29, 2006, 06:54:26 PM »
For just a moment, take color out of the equation.  People are in a better position to compete with students who have comparable abilities to themselves.  Since (almost) all first-year programs are curved, the ability to compete is essential.  And as any school's career placement office will happily tell you, first year grades are the most important because they are the only ones employers will be able to see when they interview you in the fall of your second year.

If you want to critique my logic, go ahead.  But please don't waste your time calling me a racist or overpriveleged.  Neither of those is the case.

Miss P

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #17 on: July 29, 2006, 10:00:05 PM »
I think the argument was that if, instead of being admitted to schools where the majority of students were better qualified, whatever that may mean, students admitted via affirmative action went to insitituions they were better able to compete, the number that either faired poorly or failed out would be less than the number failing out of top institutions. 

I think there are at least a couple of problems with this argument:

First, it assumes that it is the lower entry credentials of some URM students that leads to their trouble in school and in professional life.  I haven't seen any particularly compelling evidence that this is the case, and the LSAT itself doesn't seem reliable or precise enough given the score variations people experience with different amounts and forms of preparation.  Here's one response I posted about this several months ago:

LSAC conducted a bar passage rate study in the late 1990s (published in 98) that most seem to agree is reliable(www.lsacnet.org/Research/LSAC-National-Longituinal-Bar-Passage-Study.pdf).

The study showed that African-American students with the same UGPA and LSAT scores as similarly situated (same-tier LS) white students earned lower grades in LS.  This implies that something else, aside from the UGPA and LSAT scores of the applicants, led to differences in LS performance.  (The same was true for Latino/a, Asian-American, and older students.)  The reigning hypothesis (I think) is that environmental features of the average law school (such as professors' lowered expectations of, classmates' hostility toward, and feelings of alienation among students in underrepresented groups) are to blame for the lower grades.  Ironically, this suggests that increased efforts to recruit and enroll URM students would be the best way to "help" URM students who have a hard time in law school.

Second, job placement and other resources are not spread equally across law schools (especially among tiers) so that advocating for people to move to lower-ranked law schools is advocating that they accept a different range of employment opportunities.  Of course flunking out of any school or failing to pass the bar will screw you out of almost any opportunity (A 2001 Duke JD applied for my cruddy legal assistant job last month and this really freaked me out), but merely having a lower rank in your class may not.  Since we are framing this discussion in terms of the benefit accrued to the individual URM applicant with lower entry credentials than most white applicants at the same schools, do you think it would actually benefit her to go to a lower-ranked school?  Assuming we're talking about private bar employment, I think she would be much better off in the bottom 20% of the class at Georgetown, with myriad corporate recruiters, than in the top half of a class at T2 School X where only the top 5-10% compete with Georgetown students for jobs, and the others join small personal injury firms or become personal mortgage attorneys or the like.

That's cool how you referenced a case.

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obamacon

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #18 on: July 29, 2006, 11:39:41 PM »
The study showed that African-American students with the same UGPA and LSAT scores as similarly situated (same-tier LS) white students earned lower grades in LS.

This sounds like it might have a few problems, the biggest one being that affective action makes this pretty rare. Can you elaborate a bit more upon it?


Quote
Of course flunking out of any school or failing to pass the bar will screw you out of almost any opportunity (A 2001 Duke JD applied for my cruddy legal assistant job last month and this really freaked me out), but merely having a lower rank in your class may not.

Are you sure about this? If you were a hiring partner would you take a top 5% GW grad or a bottom 20% Columbia grad?

Miss P

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Re: Why Does Affirmative Action need Justification?
« Reply #19 on: July 29, 2006, 11:44:31 PM »
The study showed that African-American students with the same UGPA and LSAT scores as similarly situated (same-tier LS) white students earned lower grades in LS.

This sounds like it might have a few problems, the biggest one being that affective action makes this pretty rare. Can you elaborate a bit more upon it?


I don't know quite what you're asking.  But if you are suggesting that there aren't plenty of white students with the same UGPA and LSAT or index scores as URMs in same-tier law schools, I think you have a very warped perception of the power of affirmative action. 

In any case, read the report from the study or even -- if you must -- the Sander articles (he bases his argument on the data from the study as well).
That's cool how you referenced a case.

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I'm so far from the end of my tether right now that I reckon I could knit myself some socks with the slack.