Fearing Study, Affirmative Action Supporters Deny Access To Data By Betsy Newmark

Gail Heriot had a column in the Wall Street Journal exposing the latest method of affirmative action proponents to keep information from being used to study the effects of affirmative action on black achievement. She is referring to the research of UCLA law professor Richard Sander who three years ago concluded that there were higher drop-out rates in California law schools as a result of affirmative action. He found that there was a mismatch of ability in many black students admitted to law schools for the level of difficulty of that school. Hence, they were more likely to drop out than white students who didn’t have the benefits of affirmative action to boost their admissions. If those black students had gone to a school a step down in difficulty, their abilities would have been better matched to the school and they would have been more likely to succeed.

Easily the most startling conclusion of his research: Mr. Sander calculated that there are fewer black attorneys today than there would have been if law schools had practiced color-blind admissions–about 7.9% fewer by his reckoning. He identified the culprit as the practice of admitting minority students to schools for which they are inadequately prepared. In essence, they have been “matched” to the wrong school.

No one claims the findings in Mr. Sander’s study, “A Systemic Analysis of Affirmative Action in American Law Schools,” are the last word on the subject. Although so far his work has held up to scrutiny at least as well as that of his critics, all fair-minded scholars agree that more research is necessary before the “mismatch thesis” can be definitively accepted or rejected.

Sanders wants to do more research so that he can further test his thesis. To do that, he needs access to statistics on lawyers taking the State Bar exam.

Take William Kidder, a University of California staff advisor and co-author of a frequently cited attack of Sander’s study. When Mr. Sander and his co-investigators sought bar passage data from the State Bar of California that would allow analysis by race, Mr. Kidder passionately argued that access should be denied, because disclosure “risks stigmatizing African American attorneys.” At the same time, the Society of American Law Teachers, which leans so heavily to the left it risks falling over sideways, gleefully warned that the state bar would be sued if it cooperated with Mr. Sander.

Sadly, the State Bar’s Committee of Bar Examiners caved under the pressure. The committee members didn’t formally explain their decision to deny Mr. Sander’s request for these data (in which no names would be disclosed), but the root cause is clear: Over the last 40 years, many distinguished citizens–university presidents, judges, philanthropists and other leaders–have built their reputations on their support for race-based admissions. Ordinary citizens have found secure jobs as part of the resulting diversity bureaucracy.

If the policy is not working, they, too, don’t want anyone to know.

Remember, the data would be totally private. No one’s individual score would be known.

The entire premise of affirmative action programs is that they help both black and white students. The black students by getting into the more prestigious schools. The white students benefit presumably by the exposure to a more diverse population. Putting aside questions as to whether diversity provides the benefits that its proponents believe, don’t we want to know if the first part of the equation is true? Wouldn’t a true supporter of blacks getting the best education they can want to know if affirmative action is indeed helping them or is, instead, propelling them to a more difficult school where the possibility of their dropping out is higher? If they sincerely care the interests of those black students they would want to know the results of Professor Sanders’ study. They would want other people to study that data and see if there are other reasons to explain his conclusions.

But, instead they’re blocking further study. Rather telling, isn’t it? Could it be that they don’t really care about the benefits for black students and instead just care for the appearance of doing something that purports to help them? They’re in the position of seeming to care only about the supposed benefirts for white students from affirmative action and not really caring about what is in the best interests of those black applicants to law school.

This content was used with the permission of Betsy’s Page.

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