Affirmative Action

Here are two (sample) studies of law school and medical school that come to slightly different conclusions. You could get arguments for and against from these. Look it over and we can talk about it.

1. AGAINST - Law School Example. Richard Sander, A Systematic Analysis of Affirmative Action in American Law Schools, Stanford Law Review, November, 2004. http://www.law.berkeley.edu/faculty/rubinfeldd/SanderFINAL.pdf
  • Affirmative-action-admitted minorities do worse in law school than regularly admitted whites, and they drop out at a much greater rate.
  • Affirmative-action-admitted minorities fail the bar at a much higher rate that regularly admitted whites.
  • For both groups of students, law school grades predict how well one does on the bar exam. How great your school is has no real effect on how well you do on the bar exam. So pushing minorities into more elite schools where they are more likely to fail serves no good purpose in the eyes of the author. They should go to schools where they can do well in their classes and, therefore, do well on the bar exam.
  • Since affirmative action only shuffles black students around--up to better schools--getting rid of affirmative action will not reduce the number of black law students. It will only put them in schools where they can succeed.


2. FOR - Medical School. Affirmative Action and Other Special Consideration Admissions at the University of California, Davis, Medical School, The Journal of the American Medical Association, October 1997. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=418340

This is a 20-year study of Bakke's medical school (UC Davis) from 1968 to 1987. It finds affirmative action actually helping minority students, unlike the law school example above.
  • Both groups passed core courses at the same rate.
  • Affirmative-action-admitted students failed board exams the first time at a greater rate than regular students.
  • Both groups were equally successful in finding good jobs.
  • Both groups continued to have similarly successful practices.
Bottom line, despite the brief hiccup (setback) of having to retake the board exams, affirmative-action-admitted students have equal success at school and in their careers. To have denied these people admission would have denied medical students, and later physicians, from an opportunity in which they would have succeeded as well as regularly admitted students.