Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Are Affirmative Action Opponents Sincere in Their Claims That They Prefer Action to Improve Education at the K-12 Level?

Often when the merits of affirmative action in higher education are discussed, opponents of the policy will contend that affirmative action is not directed at the problem because it targets students too late in their academic careers. They argue that the focus should be on education, beginning in kindergarten and ending in the twelfth grade. But, tell that to the Project of Fair Representation, which has attacked K-12 programs operated by the University of Texas at Austin. Specifically, the Project of Fair Representation has attacked programs that provide mentor services for middle school and high school aged, male students in Austin who attend the lowest performing schools in the Austin Independent School District. The programs are open to male students of all races and ethnicities, but because of the make-up of these lowest performing schools, the overwhelming majority of those served by the program are black and Latino.

Yet, the Project of Fair Representation has asked the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to investigate these programs as discriminatory based on “suspicions that the programs in question are off-limits to certain racial and ethnic groups.” One sarcastic commenter responded best, stating:

“What an outrage! How dare a university target the lowest-performing students at the lowest performing schools. That’s discrimination pure and simple. That’s taxpayer money being hoarded for one group of so-called victims. This program must be stopped.

Hurrah to the Project on Fair Representation and their funders for rooting out corruption and waste.”

(University of Iowa professor Angela Onwuachi-Willig cross-posts from

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