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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Another reason to be skeptical of race-based affirmative action

President Barack Obama was right when he said it made little sense for his daughters to benefit from affirmative action because of their race, given all of the opportunities they will be given.

I say the same thing about my kids, who are not growing up in affluence, but are growing up in a stable, two-parent household with a mother and father who stress education and self discipline. It makes no sense that they should be given a leg up when many other kids their ages - black, white, Latino - are not living in similar environments.

This is where focusing more on racial differences than class differences has led us:

For poor, leap to college often ends in hard fall

From the piece:

The growing role of class in academic success has taken experts by surprise since it follows decades of equal opportunity efforts and counters racial trends, where differences have narrowed. It adds to fears over recent evidence suggesting that low-income Americans have lower chances of upward mobility than counterparts in Canada and Western Europe.

Thirty years ago, there was a 31 percentage point difference between the share of prosperous and poor Americans who earned bachelor’s degrees, according to Martha J. Bailey and Susan M. Dynarski of the University of Michigan. Now the gap is 45 points.

While both groups improved their odds of finishing college, the affluent improved much more, widening their sizable lead.

Likely reasons include soaring incomes at the top and changes in family structure, which have left fewer low-income students with the support of two-parent homes. Neighborhoods have grown more segregated by class, leaving lower-income students increasingly concentrated in lower-quality schools. And even after accounting for financial aid, the costs of attending a public university have risen 60 percent in the past two decades. Many low-income students, feeling the need to help out at home, are deterred by the thought of years of lost wages and piles of debt.

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