NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 21, 1995

Affirmative action programs fail because they do nothing to bring unprepared minorities up to the level of the students and workers who gain their positions on merit alone. As a result of racial quotas:
  • On average, black and Hispanic students entering the University of California at Berkeley have much lower high school grade-point averages and scores on the Scholastic Assessment Test than whites and Asians.
  • Students admitted through special set-asides do much worse at the college level, lowering the six-year graduation rate for blacks to 59 percent and for Hispanics to 64 percent, compared with 84 percent for whites and 88 percent for Asians.
A different kind of affirmative action could address the the main cause of unequal opportunities among adults - differences in childhood experienceces - by human-capital investments that help children do well as adults. Such affirmative action should include:
  • Tuition vouchers for private elementary and secondary schools so poor children can get a decent education, rather than attending inadequate local public schools.
  • Welfare reform to keep poor families intact.
  • A continuing crackdown on crime until children are convinced it doesn't pay.
  • Programs to improve medical care and nutrition.
Source: Gary S. Becker, "End Affirmative Action As We Know It," Business Week, August 21, 1995.


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