The Corner

Politics & Policy

Checking the Checkers

Demonstrations of the mendacity, incoherence, and utter uselessness of “fact check” sites have become pedestrian, but why not once more unto the breach?

Politifact Florida set out today to test the claim, made by Jeb Bush at CPAC, that minority college enrollment increased during his tenure despite his executive order ending affirmative action.

Specifically: “I eliminated affirmative action by executive order — trust me, there were a lot of people upset about this,” Bush said at the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 27, 2015. “But through hard work we ended up having a system where there were more African American and Hispanic kids attending our university system than prior to the system that was discriminatory.”

Read the substance of the fact check and you’ll learn the following:

  • Since the end of affirmative action in the state in 1999, overall enrollment for black students went up from about 33,000 to almost 44,000. Hispanic enrollment more than doubled, from about 33,000 students to almost 80,000.
  • The proportion of black enrollment declined slightly, from 14 percent in 1999 to 13 percent in 2013. Hispanic enrollment nearly doubled, to nearly 24 percent.
  • During this interval, there were bureaucratic changes in the way students reported their racial background. These resulted in more students being counted as Hispanic and fewer students being counted as black or white.
  • There’s no specific evidence that ending affirmative action contributed to an increase in minority enrollment, but “experts” say that in addition to demographic growth, a key factor is achievement and need-based scholarship programs, like one created by Bush even as he ended affirmative action.

Based on this fact pattern — 1) there are more minorities enrolled in college in Florida than there were under affirmative action, 2) minority students, as a whole, account for a significantly greater percentage of enrollees than they did under affirmative action, 3) the statistically insignificant dip in black enrollment is attributable to a semantic bit of paperwork, and 4) programs like the one Bush sponsored help account for the distinction — how would you rate Bush’s claim?

If you’re Politifact, you’d rate it “mostly false.” Can’t make this crap up.

 

Daniel FosterDaniel Foster is a former news editor of National Review Online.

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