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Author Topic: New, Reasonable AA Proposal  (Read 10695 times)

blondngreen

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Re: New, Reasonable AA Proposal
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2007, 02:32:00 PM »

It seems that the primary justification for AA is that some URM's are disadvantaged because of historical (and perhaps current) discrimination, and thus have a harder time achieving academically.

Taking such educational obstacles into account therefore appears justified.  It also, however, appears proper to apply the same analysis to disadvantaged whites, who have to overcome similar obstacles.  Neither would appear to apply to wealthier whites and blacks who do not experience those obstacles. 

I would therefore first propose a system whereby the applicant's educational and economic disadvantages are taken into account when evaluating their application, and their potential for success in law.  Ethnicity, standing alone, would not appear relevant to this analysis.  However, given the theoretical benefits of diversity, and the desire to produce more minority attorneys, ethnicity could be used as a highly limited "tipping" factor when comparing two candidates from similar backgrounds with identical objective criteria.  In other words, when two candidates are truly comparable in other respects, the nod would go to the minority candidate. 

This approach would appear to address the problem of inequality in opportunity, and therefore account for the legacy of slavery and past discrimiation, without unjustly penalizing disadvantaged whites/asians.  It would also give the advantage, at all equivalent levels, to minority candidates in the interests of greater diversity.  It would simply to do in a more limited and equitable manner. 

Given that opportunity would be controlled for, and given the tipping advantage, the only thing holding minorities back under such a system would be their own efforts and abilities.  Such a system would also likely be far more accepted and respected than the current regime, which appears to simply use race as a proxy for educational opportunity without further examination, and therefore creates inequities and resentment, while stigmatizing minority achievement.

This would therefore seem to be a fair, moral, rational and effective way of achieving greater diversity without engaging in unjustified discrimination.  I think it's a system most whites/asians could get behind, and it seems to address the primary arguments in support of AA today.  Finally, to the extent it affects enrollment at all, it will probably just mean that more minority students will end up attending schools in line with their objective criteria -- likely improving their educational experience overall, and increasing their chances of doing well academically and passing the bar (and quite possibly increasing the number of actual minority lawyers overall.) See:  UCLA Sanders Study.

My question:  What objections would AA supporters raise against such a plan, aside from the fact that Harvard, Yale, and Stanford may end up without as many (underrepresented) minority students?  (Those students would presumably move down to CCN, etc.)  Would this really be an excessive price to pay for a system that is more fair and less discriminatory, that removes potential stigma from minority achievements and fosters mutual respect between ethnicities, rather than resentment? 

Fire away. 

That makes way too much sense, what were you thinking? 

Lindbergh

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Re: New, Reasonable AA Proposal
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2007, 07:21:29 PM »
I almost never hear AA supporters discussing the problem of poor whites, so I guess that's a reasonable conclusion. 

I almost never hear you voicing your opposition to eating horse meat.  Can I reasonably conclude that you support eating horses?  :D


Sure -- I have no particular love for the animal.  I think most people would support this when circumstances demand it, which is probably why you don't hear much opposition to it.

Lindbergh

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Re: New, Reasonable AA Proposal
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2007, 08:04:14 PM »
Apparently that lack of educational opportunity should be the only kind of disadvantage the admissions process should take into account.  :D

Again, there are all kinds of disadvantages in life.  I've listed several, and minority ethnicity is arguably one.  My question is this:  How exactly does being a minority, per se, affect your GPA and LSAT once educational opportunity is accounted for?  If it does not, then how is it relevant to admissions decisions?


*For the record: I strongly support giving a boost to all candidates who have dealt with and overcome adversity, to include but not be limited to whites who are from impoverished socioeconomic backgrounds. 

Okay, so we agree on this.  My question, then, is where specifically you disagree with me in terms of my proposal, and why?  Assuming we control for educational opportunity, what exactly justifies giving more than a tipping point to minorities?  Do you really feel, for example, that a wealthy minority has a harder time doing well academically than a poor white/asian?  How exactly should the educationally/economically advantaged minority be viewed relative to the educationally/economically disadvantaged white/asian? 

Can we at least agree that the educationally/economically advantaged minority should not get preference points over the educationally/economically disadvantaged white/asian?  Or is the quest for proportional representation more important than simple fairness?

Lindbergh

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Re: New, Reasonable AA Proposal
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2007, 08:12:45 PM »
Finally, I'll note that you, and most AA supporters, have created a "hilarious myth" of disadvantage where only ethnicity exists.   

You're saying that most AA supporters oppose giving an advantage to poor whites over rich whites in the admissions process?  Because that's the implication of saying that they believe that "only ethnicity exists."  :) 


I almost never hear AA supporters discussing the problem of poor whites, so I guess that's a reasonable conclusion.  Most AA supporters appear to be privileged whites who assume that just because they had a cushy ride, everyone else does also. 

That is not a reasonable conclusion.

Well, that's your opinion.  I guess what I really believe is that most AA supporters don't really care one way or another about poor whites, for the reasons noted.  To most, it appears, being white is some magic potion that makes life incredibly easy, whatever the circumstances.


And you've objected so strenuously to people making unfair generalizations about AA detractors. Perhaps you'd like to extend the same courtesy to the other side?

Well, if I can hear an AA supporter acknowledge that a poor white/asian might actually need and deserve preferences more than a wealthy minority, I'll modify my opinion.  Until then, I'll have to conclude that most such supporters don't know anything about actual disadvantage.

Lindbergh

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Re: New, Reasonable AA Proposal
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2007, 08:16:31 PM »
I almost never hear AA supporters discussing the problem of poor whites, so I guess that's a reasonable conclusion. 

I almost never hear you voicing your opposition to eating horse meat.  Can I reasonably conclude that you support eating horses?  :D


Sure -- I have no particular love for the animal.  I think most people would support this when circumstances demand it, which is probably why you don't hear much opposition to it.

That is also not a reasonable conclusion.

ETA: Seriously, I thought you were an LSAT teacher  :D


If I am, that would indicate that I can better determine than you whether or not conclusions are reasonable, wouldn't it?   ;) 

Do you really think most people would oppose eating horses when circumstances demand it?  What about the fact that horsemeat is made into dogfood, and no one complains?  Isn't this evidence of the above? 

Even better question -- how much time do you want to waste on my "humorous" asides? 

t...

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Re: New, Reasonable AA Proposal
« Reply #15 on: August 29, 2007, 08:38:17 PM »
How exactly does being a minority, per se, affect your GPA and LSAT once educational opportunity is accounted for?  If it does not, then how is it relevant to admissions decisions?

You obviously have not read the literature on stereotype threat.
Quote
Cady on October 16, 2007, 10:41:52 PM

i rhink tyi'm inejying my fudgcicle too much

Quote
Huey on February 07, 2007, 11:15:32 PM

I went to a party in an apartment in a silo once.

PNym

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Re: New, Reasonable AA Proposal
« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2007, 10:12:18 PM »
How exactly does being a minority, per se, affect your GPA and LSAT once educational opportunity is accounted for?  If it does not, then how is it relevant to admissions decisions?

You obviously have not read the literature on stereotype threat.


I have my reservations on whether such a threat exists, due to http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110004973. Until I get a chance to read the original article, so as to evaluate it for the methodological errors pointed out by Professor Wax, I can't accept it as a credible premise, rather than a merely plausible one.

t...

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Re: New, Reasonable AA Proposal
« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2007, 10:22:37 PM »
It helps to read the original (and subsequent) article(s).

And yours does nothing to explain the performance gap
Quote
Cady on October 16, 2007, 10:41:52 PM

i rhink tyi'm inejying my fudgcicle too much

Quote
Huey on February 07, 2007, 11:15:32 PM

I went to a party in an apartment in a silo once.

PNym

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Re: New, Reasonable AA Proposal
« Reply #18 on: August 29, 2007, 10:26:14 PM »

It seems that the primary justification for AA is that some URM's are disadvantaged because of historical (and perhaps current) discrimination, and thus have a harder time achieving academically.

Taking such educational obstacles into account therefore appears justified.  It also, however, appears proper to apply the same analysis to disadvantaged whites, who have to overcome similar obstacles.  Neither would appear to apply to wealthier whites and blacks who do not experience those obstacles. 

I would therefore first propose a system whereby the applicant's educational and economic disadvantages are taken into account when evaluating their application, and their potential for success in law.  Ethnicity, standing alone, would not appear relevant to this analysis.  However, given the theoretical benefits of diversity, and the desire to produce more minority attorneys, ethnicity could be used as a highly limited "tipping" factor when comparing two candidates from similar backgrounds with identical objective criteria.  In other words, when two candidates are truly comparable in other respects, the nod would go to the minority candidate. 

This approach would appear to address the problem of inequality in opportunity, and therefore account for the legacy of slavery and past discrimiation, without unjustly penalizing disadvantaged whites/asians.  It would also give the advantage, at all equivalent levels, to minority candidates in the interests of greater diversity.  It would simply to do in a more limited and equitable manner. 

Given that opportunity would be controlled for, and given the tipping advantage, the only thing holding minorities back under such a system would be their own efforts and abilities.  Such a system would also likely be far more accepted and respected than the current regime, which appears to simply use race as a proxy for educational opportunity without further examination, and therefore creates inequities and resentment, while stigmatizing minority achievement.

This would therefore seem to be a fair, moral, rational and effective way of achieving greater diversity without engaging in unjustified discrimination.  I think it's a system most whites/asians could get behind, and it seems to address the primary arguments in support of AA today.  Finally, to the extent it affects enrollment at all, it will probably just mean that more minority students will end up attending schools in line with their objective criteria -- likely improving their educational experience overall, and increasing their chances of doing well academically and passing the bar (and quite possibly increasing the number of actual minority lawyers overall.) See:  UCLA Sanders Study.

My question:  What objections would AA supporters raise against such a plan, aside from the fact that Harvard, Yale, and Stanford may end up without as many (underrepresented) minority students?  (Those students would presumably move down to CCN, etc.)  Would this really be an excessive price to pay for a system that is more fair and less discriminatory, that removes potential stigma from minority achievements and fosters mutual respect between ethnicities, rather than resentment? 

Fire away. 

I don't have any objections to such an idea in theory form. If two applicants to law school are pretty much exactly identical except that one had to face greater hardships than the other, and I were the adcomm who had to decide between the two, I'd choose the hard-luck-kid.

I just don't think this situation would occur very frequently in reality. No two candidates are going to write the same personal statement, have the same resume, or have the same letters of rec. One candidate will probably top the other in one of these areas.

Furthermore, even though your idea explictly constrains considerations of economic hardship to deciding between exactly identical applicants, I'm willing to bet that diversity-pushing (and probably well-meaning) adcomms will use the mere presence of this consideration to justify their application of it when deciding between non-identical applicants.

Your idea sounds good in theory, but I don't think it'd work in real life. However, I do think the idea is a better alternative than the current AA policies in place; it better aligns with my moral values, and also would reduce ethnic tensions between current URM-favored applicants and non-URM-favored applicants.


Hey, PN.  To clarify, my approach would focus on educational advantages as much as desired by the schools, and would then use ethnicity as a tipping factor even after those advantages are accounted for. 

I realize that students have nebulous aspects to applications -- when I say identically matched, I'm speaking on a numerical basis.  In other words, when they have the same (or essentially the same) numerical index based on GPA/LSAT, then the minority can still be favored for diversity purposes. It just wouldn't be the differential that exists today.

Well, this is where we disagree. I think the other soft factors should taken more into account than minority status, because those factors give significantly more insight on the quality of the person and the experiences they bring to the matriculating class than mere minority status.

A well-written, involving personal statement tells the adcomms that the applicant has had a touching life experience, the good judgment to write about it in their application, and the skills necessary to bring that experience to life for a reader. I assume that maturity, good judgment, and good writing skills are all attributes that contribute to success in the study of law.

A resume that lists significant work experience and professional achievements shows adcomms that the applicant has dealt with the world outside academia, and has been successful in these dealings. Exposure to the professional world and the maturity required to take responsibility for professional achievements may contribute to success in law school and beyond.

And strong letters of recommendation speak to the character, intelligence, and work ethic of the applicant, all attributes that presumably help a law school student succeed in law school.

On the other hand, the assessable benefits to the study of law of ethnicity or lower socioeconomic standing is entirely contingent upon the assumptions that an adcomm can draw from the claimants of those statuses. Claiming these statuses doesn't prove desireable character traits to the extent that the other soft factors would prove it. Adcomms would necessarily need to assume much in order for these statuses to support the presence of good traits to the extent that other factors support the exist of good traits.

Since the other factors do not require as much assuming as ethnic or socioeconomic status, I favor weighing those factors more heavily than the latter two.

PNym

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Re: New, Reasonable AA Proposal
« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2007, 10:33:32 PM »
It helps to read the original (and subsequent) article(s).

And yours does nothing to explain the performance gap

I know that. But I'm not willing to shell out $12 (or $24 for both studies) to prove something on an internet forum. However, if I find a copy of the article for free, I'll be sure to read it.

And the article I provided does explain the performance gap. Professor Wax suggests that the reported "performance gap" that disappeared when "stereotype threat" was removed had, in fact, been present the entire time:

Quote
The key to this study, and to its misuse, can be found in how the results were reported. The average incoming verbal SAT scores of the black Stanford students lagged about 40 points behind the white students in the experiment. In order to control for those academic disparities, the authors adjusted scores on the experimental tests to account for any background SAT score differences. Since the adjustment allowed them to compare students as if they were equally qualified, it's no surprise that black and white students were reported as achieving the same scores when the stereotype threat was removed.

But they did not in fact achieve the same scores. As noted by University of Minnesota psychologist Paul Sackett and his colleagues in the January issue of American Psychologist, the raw, unadjusted scores of African-American and white students in the Steele/Aronson paper actually "differed to about the degree that would be expected on the basis of differences in prior SAT scores." Although stereotype threat warnings widened the gap between black and white student scores somewhat, purging the threat did not close or even narrow the actual gap in scores on the experimental test.

If the gap were there all along, due to differences in prior SAT scores between the black student population and white student population, and only slightly widened when the researchers told the black students that the test judged their intellectual ability, then there is no evidence that the presence or absence of the "threat" had any conclusive effect.

Again, I'd have to look at the original study to see if Professor Wax's critique is true, but judging by her credentials and the detailed analysis she provided, this critique, at the very least, seems plausible.