Toward Real Equality in Higher Education

by George Leef

That’s the title of this piece from the Chronicle today. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the author, Michele Moody-Adams, a former dean at Columbia, sees that “affirmative action” doesn’t usually work out the way its advocates contend.

When debating “affirmative action,” I have run into the argument that “minority” students who get to attend “elite” universities thanks to racial preferences will be better placed to do the work that needs to be done to help “their” communities. (Supposedly, minority students who go to Harvard Law, for example, will do more to solve social problems than those who go to a mid-level law school.) The author drenches that notion in cold water: “It has been argued that affirmative action would have a trickle-down effect, whereby minority students would choose careers and life plans designed to expand opportunities in their communities. But, not surprisingly, minority students have turned out to be like students in general: By and large, college students do not feel obligated to define their personal goals in the context of broader social goods.”

I have long maintained that the case for “affirmative action” consists primarily of wishful thinking. Glad to know that Professor Moody-Adams agrees.