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Author Topic: The new US Commission on Civil Rights report on AA in LS admissions  (Read 5753 times)

Miss P

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Re: The new US Commission on Civil Rights report on AA in LS admissions
« Reply #20 on: September 08, 2007, 05:38:18 PM »
Tick tock, tick tock.

You want me to give it a shot?

Nah.  I'm just frustrated that I wasted time replying to someone who doesn't take the conversation seriously and who insulted me without basis.  Having actually read most of the relevant scholarship, I can probably construct the response as well as anyone else.  Neither of us can answer my question about Lindbergh's background, however.
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.

Lindbergh

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Re: The new US Commission on Civil Rights report on AA in LS admissions
« Reply #21 on: September 10, 2007, 11:18:53 PM »
In the name of friendly discussion, I'll skip the quote war and answer your questions in earnest.

1.  Do you dispute that minorities are frequently admitted to schools with lower objective criteria?  (Isn't this the whole point of AA / preferential admissions?)

No.

Okay, so we agree that minorities are frequently admitted to schools with lower objective criteria. 

One can debate how much AA affects whites.  I will note that it actually appears to affect asians far more, at least at the undergrad level.  However, one could also argue that segregation itself affected a fairly small percentage of the country. 

Even if it only affected a few people, however, (which appears unlikely), the mere existence of official, state-sponsored racial discrimination is itself provocative and poisonous to race relations. 


I don't understand why your objections here about the importance of these credentials would not also apply to students who receive extra consideration based on socioeconomic factors, but I agree with you that socioeconomic factors should be taken into account in law school admissions.)  

Well, those people who have slightly lower numbers from tougher backgrounds are presumably (or at least potentially) as capable as their more affluent counterparts, as their true ability is somewhat obscured by their educational handicaps.  The same analysis would not apply to a more privileged minority.

To the extent schools are already looking at SES, that's certainly a step in the right direction.  However, it does not, in itself, explain why non-disadvantaged minorities need or deserve special consideration.  The burden therefore remains on proponents to justify such action.


2.  Do you dispute that this creates a mismatch between such students and the general competition level at those schools?

Yes, at least to the extent the mismatch hypothesis states.

Okay, so you admit that urms are admitted with lower numbers, but you deny that this creates a mismatch?  Please explain.  (Forget about what the "hypothesis" states.  Just use common sense.)


3.  Do you dispute that when students with lower numbers (of any ethnicity) are admitted to more competitive programs, it usually make it more difficult for them to thrive and emerge at the top of their class?

Yes, at least to the extent the mismatch hypothesis states.

See above. 


4.  Do you dispute that students with lower numbers (of all ethnicities) tend to cluster near the bottom of their class, and are more likely to drop out?

No.

Okay, so we agree on this.


but it appears from more supple research on the subject that there are actually different groups of students at the bottom of the class: (1) white and ORM students with lower entry credentials and (2) URM students with lower entry credentials.  I split these groups up because the LSAT tends to vastly overpredict URM performance in law school and it therefore doesn't make a lot of sense to correlate URM overrepresentation at the bottom of the class with entry credentials.  Indeed, URMs at schools where their entry credentials match the white medians (where you might expect them to attend without affirmative action) also tend to cluster at the bottom of the class.  See, e.g., Ayres & Brooks 2005, which limits the analysis, as Sander does, to black students.


I believe the cited study acknowledges that urms (and others) with lower credentials tend to cluster at the bottom of their class.  It also claims that they tend to struggle somewhat even when they don't have lower credentials.  However, I don't believe even they claim the effect is quite the same.  Whatever struggles minority students face in school, credential mismatch is clearly part of the problem, and ignoring this won't make it go away.


5.  Do you dispute that students with lower numbers (of all ethnicities) also therefore tend to struggle with the bar exam more?

There's not much evidence that the LSAT is predictive of bar results for URM graduates.  See, e.g., the LSAC National Longitudinal Bar Passage Study.

So the LSAT is predictive of bar results for white, but not urms?  The study appears to note that urms both have lower numbers, and tend to fail the bar at higher rates.  How do you/they argue that the two factors aren't correlated?

Are urms really magically immune from the effects of such factors on everyone else? 

Miss P

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Re: The new US Commission on Civil Rights report on AA in LS admissions
« Reply #22 on: September 10, 2007, 11:28:43 PM »
You've just ignored my answers to your questions which were already in my post (at at least the analytic depth you've offered).  I am underwhelmed by the response yet overwhelmed by the format.  I don't feel like playing the chop-chop game, sorry. 
That's cool how you referenced a case.

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Lindbergh

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Re: The new US Commission on Civil Rights report on AA in LS admissions
« Reply #23 on: September 10, 2007, 11:54:45 PM »
To me, this is all simple common sense.  If you admit anyone with signficantly lower numbers into competitive programs, you're going to see such problems arise.  In the old days, when admission was open, you saw mass attrition as a result.  The above problems are simply a reflection of that dynamic.

Common sense is great, but occasionally reality trumps it. 

Well, in actuality, common sense (as opposed to AA) tends to reflect reality.  What reality does often trump are well-intentioned policies (like AA) that ignore objective reality.



The LSAT isn't as important for all groups as you want it to be. 

Unless you're some kind of metaphysical racist, the LSAT is equally important for all groups.


As I mentioned above, part of the problem with Sander's analysis is that when you examine the performance of black law students who attend schools they would likely attend absent affirmative action programs (where their entry credentials are around the median), their law school grades were still in the bottom of the class.   

Well, you're relying upon a study that was specifically commissioned to rebut Sander's findings and uphold AA.  Even if we grant any validity to that study, nowhere do they claim that urms struggle as much at those schools where their numbers are in line.


What Hastings and some other California schools have done in the wake of Proposition 209 is to start offering better academic support (LEOP, etc.) to all students, with the expectation that students from disadvantaged or inferior educational backgrounds will benefit.  This effort provides a partial explanation for the improvement in URM graduation rates from the California schools over the last several years.  The affirmative action supporters who testified at the USCCR hearings encourage schools to adopt similar approaches.  When law schools do a better job of supporting students, they avoid some of the problems you mention.

No one (here) opposes granting all educationally disadvantaged students extra consideration and extra support.  The only question is whether this should be extended to educationally and economically privileged students.  If it's done across the board, and doesn't water down the program, I see no real reason to oppose it.  But if it's only granted to certain groups (including privileged members of those groups), it clearly becomes problematic.



This result comports with a recent study by Katherine Y. Barnes who found that discrimination effects (“hostile environment”) and other facets of law school culture were likely the most important factors in the low success rates for URM law students and graduates.  If you choose to read any one article in the debate beyond Sander’s original piece, I encourage you to read this one.  Barnes clearly discusses the limitations of the data and the methodological flaws in Sander’s and others' work, explains her method, and proposes ways to improve research on the subject.  Also, her positive and constructive tone is much to her credit.   

I'm sure it's possible that a hostile environment exists for minorities at some law schools.  However, I would also note that this is probably largely due to AA, and the divisions it creates.  Many white/asian/jewish students who aren't at higher-ranked programs probably blame this (fairly or unfairly) on AA, and probably displace this resentment on their urm counterparts, even if those urms fairly earned their slots.  

In other words, it's quite possible that AA is responsible for both the mismatch issues and the remaining discrepancies in terms of minority performance and achievement.  Ayres apparently ignores this possibility.



It's also important to recognize that a modification of AA would not prevent minorities from attending or graduating law school.  As Sanders notes, it would simply mean that they would attend different schools, where their number are comparable.  (In California after prop 209, the number of minorities (and URM's) actually increased -- only their distribution changed.) They would also tend to place better in their class, pass the bar at higher rates, and emerge as more confident attorneys.  If judges, schools, and top firms want more minorities (which they apparently do, according to the report), they can recruit from a broader array of schools.

Sander’s statistical analysis on this last point has been squarely and persuasively disputed by Ayres & Brooks, Barnes, and Ho, among others. 

Well, they disagree.  That's about it.


Lindbergh

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Re: The new US Commission on Civil Rights report on AA in LS admissions
« Reply #24 on: September 10, 2007, 11:55:07 PM »


One main problem is that Sander assumes that black students who did not benefit from affirmative action (those who attended schools where their numbers would be at the white median) would have the same bar passage rates as white students at those schools.  As I have discussed above, black students who are already at these schools do not pass the bar at the same rates as whites and, in fact, their bar passage rates are lower than those of black students with the same numerical entry credentials who attend higher-ranked schools. 

This doesn't change the fact that such students would still get into law school, and could still graduate if they chose to. 


One explanation for this difference is that these schools offer superior academics and more resources to support students who need help.  Another is that the students at the higher-ranked schools may have had unobservable (non-numerical) qualifications that helped them earn admission to the higher-ranked schools and these qualifications also make them more likely to pass the bar.  (But with respect to the latter account, if the these unobservable qualifications are so salient to bar passage rates -- and admissions committees do such a good job of assessing them -- it is difficult to sustain the premise that numerical credentials control professional outcomes, on which the mismatch hypothesis depends.)

It could also be that urm students at the very best schools are bright enough to pass the bar, even if their numbers are below the median.  The mismatch effect may well be greater at lower-ranked schools, where students rely upon their educational experience to prepare them more for the bar.



I haven’t seen the most recent research on increased URM admissions in California law schools post-209, and I didn’t realize admissions have increased as much as you say.  (I’d be interested to read more about it if you’d like to provide an article or something.)

I was referring to the impact of 209 on the UC schools generally.  The results in that context (I believe) are that minorities overall increased, and urms remained constant, simply appearing more at other US schools besides Berkeley.  (URM graduation rates probably increased, given their placement in more comparable environments.)  White enrollment actually descreased as asian enrollment increased, and whites are now underrepresented in the UC schools.  (Personally, I don't consider that a problem.)  I don't have a link handy, but you should be able to google this fairly easily.



To the extent that the California law schools have improved their URM enrollment numbers since the 1997 crisis (when there was only one black student, a deferred admit, in Boalt’s entire entering class), they have done so largely by hiding the ball.  Boalt and UCLA, for instance, now de-emphasize the LSAT in favor of the more race-neutral UGPA.  They have also focused recruiting efforts on HBCUs, lower-ranked schools, and minority civic associations and encouraged alumni and other private organizations to set up scholarships for URM students.  Finally, they give greater attention to “soft factors” like essays and work experience throughout the admissions and scholarship-determination process.   I think all of these efforts are good ones, but I don’t know why those who oppose affirmative action would prefer such cloaked measures to an open consideration of race, one which could then be evaluated for fairness and tailoring concerns by the public. 

If schools want to adjust their standards to admit more minority students, that's ultimately up to them (and their political bosses).  My preference, however, would be one where the guideline is objective excellence, without regard to skin color.  This seems preferable to either of the stated alternatives. 


Nonetheless, this more supple admissions system is something we should demand from all schools (they do get good money for their efforts, after all).

Only (presumably) if that system actually locates better (or at least comparable) future lawyers.



Indeed, the graduation and bar passage rates for URMs at these schools is going up.  If nothing else, this proves that the LSAT is not the be all and end all when it comes to becoming a lawyer.

As long as it's not the result of standards overall being lowered, I'm happy for anything that helps people generally graduate and pass the bar. 

Lindbergh

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Re: The new US Commission on Civil Rights report on AA in LS admissions
« Reply #25 on: September 10, 2007, 11:58:56 PM »
You've just ignored my answers to your questions which were already in my post (at at least the analytic depth you've offered).  I am underwhelmed by the response yet overwhelmed by the format.  I don't feel like playing the chop-chop game, sorry. 

Fair enough.  I'll simply note that it's difficult to claim there's no mismatch at work when people are admitted into schools with lower numbers, and then struggle to a greater extent than their peers. 

I'll also note that most people in law school are in fact relatively privileged whites/jews (like most liberals on this board) with little natural affinity for racism or hostility.  If a hostile environment is being created in law schools, I therefore have to look to the most obvious culprit.

dashrashi

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Re: The new US Commission on Civil Rights report on AA in LS admissions
« Reply #26 on: September 11, 2007, 01:00:34 AM »
You've just ignored my answers to your questions which were already in my post (at at least the analytic depth you've offered).  I am underwhelmed by the response yet overwhelmed by the format.  I don't feel like playing the chop-chop game, sorry. 
[/b]

This is what I was talking about in the other thread. You think you can out-bluster people. Just respond in a response, as though you've thought about what the other person has said for more than a millisecond. Oh, wait.
This sig kills fascists.

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Saw dashrashi's LSN site. Since she seems to use profanity, one could say that HYP does not necessarily mean class or refinement.

dashrashi

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Re: The new US Commission on Civil Rights report on AA in LS admissions
« Reply #27 on: September 11, 2007, 01:10:43 AM »
Bravo. A virtuoso performance of The a-hole Concerto, by the esteemed Lindbergh.
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t...

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Re: The new US Commission on Civil Rights report on AA in LS admissions
« Reply #28 on: September 11, 2007, 02:33:22 AM »
I'll play along this one time:

In the name of friendly discussion, I'll skip the quote war and answer your questions in earnest.

1.  Do you dispute that minorities are frequently admitted to schools with lower objective criteria?  (Isn't this the whole point of AA / preferential admissions?)

No.

Okay, so we agree that minorities are frequently admitted to schools with lower objective criteria. 

One can debate how much AA affects whites.  I will note that it actually appears to affect asians far more, at least at the undergrad level.  However, one could also argue that segregation itself affected a fairly small percentage of the country. 

Even if it only affected a few people, however, (which appears unlikely), the mere existence of official, state-sponsored racial discrimination is itself provocative and poisonous to race relations.

Again, as is your custom, this is completely speculative. Judging from the way you frame your statement and articulate your views, it seems that the "state-sponsored racial discrimination" is merely a rationalization for your own (not so) latent racism.

I don't understand why your objections here about the importance of these credentials would not also apply to students who receive extra consideration based on socioeconomic factors, but I agree with you that socioeconomic factors should be taken into account in law school admissions.) 

Well, those people who have slightly lower numbers from tougher backgrounds are presumably (or at least potentially) as capable as their more affluent counterparts, as their true ability is somewhat obscured by their educational handicaps.  The same analysis would not apply to a more privileged minority.

To the extent schools are already looking at SES, that's certainly a step in the right direction.  However, it does not, in itself, explain why non-disadvantaged minorities need or deserve special consideration.  The burden therefore remains on proponents to justify such action.

I think one compelling answer would be that schools seek to construct a class with a measure of diversity, and because of the fewer numbers of minority applicants they have to look deeper into the applicant pool.

Of course this is but one answer among many. And methinks you have a strange definition of "capability."


but it appears from more supple research on the subject that there are actually different groups of students at the bottom of the class: (1) white and ORM students with lower entry credentials and (2) URM students with lower entry credentials.  I split these groups up because the LSAT tends to vastly overpredict URM performance in law school and it therefore doesn't make a lot of sense to correlate URM overrepresentation at the bottom of the class with entry credentials.  Indeed, URMs at schools where their entry credentials match the white medians (where you might expect them to attend without affirmative action) also tend to cluster at the bottom of the class.  See, e.g., Ayres & Brooks 2005, which limits the analysis, as Sander does, to black students.


I believe the cited study acknowledges that urms (and others) with lower credentials tend to cluster at the bottom of their class.  It also claims that they tend to struggle somewhat even when they don't have lower credentials.  However, I don't believe even they claim the effect is quite the same.  Whatever struggles minority students face in school, credential mismatch is clearly part of the problem, and ignoring this won't make it go away.

Part but not all of the problem. In fact I think we've done a decent job of explaining this already. Miss P. has repeatedly pointed out that programs like Hastings' LEOP prove to be extremely beneficial in helping disadvantaged students with law school. I've also provided you with a study of minority relations at a law student that pretends to have one of the most minority-friendly environments of all law schools - did you even bother to read that?


 
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