NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Quotas Advocates Refuse To Give Up

June 2, 1997

Seething over voter and court decisions in California and Texas that ban racial preferences in higher education, quota supporters are trying an end-run to foil the law. Their problem is that many black and Hispanic students are less prepared for college than their white or Asian counterparts -- with the consequence that fewer are admitted.

  • The number of black students admitted to University of California at Los Angeles's law school in the 1997 freshmen class dropped to just 21 -- an 80 percent decline -- when admissions officials were forced to judge students on their achievements, rather than their skin color.
  • At UC-Berkeley, only 14 blacks were admitted out of 792 students -- a decline of nearly 82 percent.
  • At the University of Texas, which had been ordered by a federal judge to end race preferences, almost 400 fewer blacks and Hispanics will be admitted this year -- a 20 percent decline.

Race preference backers are fighting back, however, with a plan of their own.

  • Some would guarantee admission to a set percentage of students from every high school -- no matter how dismal the school's performance and unequipped its graduates.
  • In California, advocates would guarantee granting admissions to anywhere from the top 2 to the top 10 graduates of every high school.
  • Computer models run by university officials show that Hispanic admissions would increase from 3.9 percent to 6.2 percent, and black admissions would rise from 5.1 percent to 5.5 percent.
  • The share of Asian-American admissions, however, would decline by 6 percent under the plan, with whites losing 2 percent.

UC is also considering increasing its existing $100 million program to attract minorities by another $20 million a year. The funds would have to come either from higher state taxes or higher student fees.

Advocates of fair admissions policies -- those which rely only on abilities and demonstrated past performance -- contend that the problem lies in poor public schools. That is where change must occur either by improving the public schools or through a shift to vouchers for private schooling or charter schools.

Source: Editorial, "Keeping Quotas on Life Support," Investor's Business Daily, June 2, 1997.


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