Skip to comments.The Unintended Consequences of Affirmative Action
Posted on 01/26/2003 10:24:59 PM PST by rdf
Discrimination plays little part in limiting the number of minority professors in academe. So says a new book that is so controversial -- even before it's on bookshelves -- that one of the prime sponsors of its research, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, already is trying to distance itself from the findings.
The book, Increasing Faculty Diversity: The Occupational Choices of High-Achieving Minority Students, is to be published next month by Harvard University Press. The book comes at a time when affirmative action in higher education is on the minds of students, professors, and administrators across the country as they wait for the Supreme Court to decide two cases involving the University of Michigan.
Many universities are trying hard to recruit black, Hispanic, and American Indian professors, says the book. But they end up fighting over the same insufficient pool of minority Ph.D.'s. That group is small primarily because most minority undergraduates don't earn grades good enough to get into graduate school or even to convince themselves that they are academically suited for careers in the professoriate. The crux of the problem, according to the book: Affirmative action has steered many minority undergraduates to selective colleges where they do poorly.
Increasing Faculty Diversity was written primarily by Stephen Cole, a professor of sociology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. It reads more like a paper put out by a conservative think tank than a book sponsored by the Council of Ivy Group Presidents and the Mellon foundation -- two groups known for their strong support of affirmative action.
Claude M. Steele, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, is worried that the book could influence the Supreme Court. "I think Sandra Day O'Connor's law clerks are going to read it and they'll say: 'Look at this. Here's a real thorough study, and it is arguing that affirmative action is harming these kids.'"
And while the book acknowledges that contact with faculty members is important in encouraging minority students to pursue the professoriate, it says that whether those mentors are black or white makes little difference.
The findings of the five-year study, whose purpose was to learn why so few minority undergraduates pursue Ph.D.'s and become professors, run contrary to a highly touted study that the Mellon foundation's president, along with a former Harvard president, completed five years ago.
"Researchers report the findings as they see them, and they may not be consistent with what we'd like to see or what we think are there," says Harriet Zuckerman, senior vice president of the foundation. "The Mellon imprimatur is not on this, just as it is not on other research we support." She says people should be "cautious about putting much weight on certain findings."
(Excerpt) Read more at chronicle.com ...
And they have. Sowell has borne the brunt of all sorts of attacks on his character and especially personal attacks based on his not manifesting the properly vetted and approved "Black" postion on the issues of the day.