The Remedy: Class, Race, and Affirmative Action

By Richard D. Kahlenberg | Go to book overview

3 A Report Card on Affirmative Action Today

AFTER THIRTY YEARS, how well do affirmative action programs, as employed in practice, measure up against the stated goals of the scheme's early proponents? How well do they provide genuine equal opportunity? Do they advance us toward a color-blind future (assuming that is a goal still worth pursuing)? Do they provide the benefits of integration--reducing prejudice and fostering social harmony? How well do they compensate for past discrimination?


GOAL NO. 1: GENUINE EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY

The first and central goal of affirmative action, according to Justice Brennan's opening line in the Bakke decision, was to "achieve equal opportunity for all."1 Indeed, the early programs, such as the UC Davis Medical School program challenged by Allan Bakke, were framed in terms of helping "economically and/or educationally disadvantaged" applicants.2 The program was theoretically open to poor white students and was meanstested for minorities. "Ethnic minorities are not categorically considered under the Task Force Program unless they are from disadvantaged backgrounds," the UC guidelines declared.3

But over time, as affirmative action programs evolved from the race-blind class-based structure to class-blind racial preferences, the goal shifted from equality of individual opportunity to equality of racial group results.4 While the new goal is normally criticized for going too far, it is in some senses quite modest.5 To the extent that affirmative action, at its ultimate moment of success, merely creates a self-perpetuating black elite along with a

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The Remedy: Class, Race, and Affirmative Action
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Praise for The Remedy: Class, Race, and Affirmative Action i
  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Preface to the Paperback Edition xv
  • Introduction - The Lost Thread xxiii
  • Part I 1
  • 1 - The Early Aspirations of Affirmative Action 3
  • 2 - Affirmative Action Gone Astray 16
  • 3 - A Report Card on Affirmative Action Today 42
  • Part 2 81
  • 4 - The Case for Class- Based Affirmative Action 83
  • 5 - The Mechanics of Class- Based Affirmative Action 121
  • 6 - Six Myths About Class-Based Preferences 153
  • Part 3 181
  • 7 - Picking Up the Lost Thread 183
  • Notes 211
  • Bibliography 322
  • Index 339
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