‘Moving Beyond Affirmative Action’

by Roger Clegg

That’s the title of an op-ed in today’s New York Times by Princeton professor Thomas J. Espenshade, and of course the news hook is the upcoming oral argument next week before the Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas, in which racial admission preferences are being challenged. There’s a lot of predictable handwringing in the op-ed: He calls racial preferences “a woefully inadequate weapon in the arsenal against inequality” and recognizes some of their bad, unintended consequences, but also calls them “necessary, and often beneficial.” Still, it’s good that more and more liberals seem to be resigned to the fact that the days of racial preferences are, and maybe even ought to be, numbered.

But, as the title of the op-ed suggests, Professor Espenshade’s real focus is on how to address racial disparities in education without using racial preferences. So he lists the various possible reasons for those disparities, like “diet and nutrition” and “sleep routines” and “stress outside the home” — in short, that is, everything except the most obvious and underlying social problem: illegitimacy. As I wrote on the Corner yesterday:

The federal government released its latest figures on births in the United States, including out-of-wedlock births. The numbers are very close to last year’s: 72.3 percent of non-Hispanic blacks are now born out-of-wedlock; 66.2 percent of American Indians/Alaska Natives; 53.3 percent of Hispanics; 29.1 percent of non-Hispanic whites; and 17.2 percent of Asians/Pacific Islanders. That’s 40.7 percent overall: a disaster.It is, of course, no surprise that the groups with the highest illegitimacy rates are the groups that are struggling economically, educationally, with crime, and so forth.

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