U.S. Supreme Court to decide the affirmative action case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (Case No. 11-345)

30 Sep

In The next great civil rights struggle: Disparity in education funding, moi said:

Plessy v. Ferguson established the principle of “separate but equal” in race issues. Brown v.Board of Education which overturned the principle of “separate but equal.” would not have been necessary, but for Plessy. See also, the history of Brown v. Board of Education

If one believes that all children, regardless of that child’s status have a right to a good basic education and that society must fund and implement policies, which support this principle. Then, one must discuss the issue of equity in education. Because of the segregation, which resulted after Plessy, most folks focus their analysis of Brown almost solely on race. The issue of equity was just as important. The equity issue was explained in terms of unequal resources and unequal access to education.

People tend to cluster in neighborhoods based upon class as much as race. Good teachers tend to gravitate toward neighborhoods where they are paid well and students come from families who mirror their personal backgrounds and values. Good teachers make a difference in a child’s life. One of the difficulties in busing to achieve equity in education is that neighborhoods tend to be segregated by class as well as race. People often make sacrifices to move into neighborhoods they perceive mirror their values. That is why there must be good schools in all segments of the city and there must be good schools in all parts of this state. A good education should not depend upon one’s class or status.

I know that the lawyers in Brown were told that lawsuits were futile and that the legislatures would address the issue of segregation eventually when the public was ready. Meanwhile, several generations of African Americans waited for people to come around and say the Constitution applied to us as well. Generations of African Americans suffered in inferior schools. This state cannot sacrifice the lives of children by not addressing the issue of equity in school funding in a timely manner.

The next huge case, like Brown, will be about equity in education funding. It may not come this year or the next year. It, like Brown, may come several years after a Plessy. It will come. Equity in education funding is the civil rights issue of this century. https://drwilda.com/2011/12/02/the-next-great-civil-rights-struggle-disparity-in-education-funding/ U.S. Supreme Court watchers are awaiting the decision in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (Case No. 11-345).

Mark Walsh is reporting in the Education Week article, Affirmative Action Case Up for Airing at High Court:

The future of affirmative action in education—not just for colleges but potentially for K-12 schools as well—may be on the line when the U.S. Supreme Court takes up a race-conscious admissions plan from the University of Texas next month.

That seems apparent to the scores of education groups that have lined up behind the university with friend-of-the-court briefs calling on the justices to uphold the plan and continue to recognize the need for racial diversity in the nation’s schools and classrooms.

Long identified as essential to the missions of many postsecondary institutions and school districts in the United States, diversity has emerged as central to our nation’s overarching goals associated with educational excellence,” says a joint brief by the College Board, the National School Boards Association, and several other K-12 groups and others that deal with college admissions.

In an interview, Francisco M. Negrón Jr., the general counsel of the NSBA and a co-author of the brief, emphasized the stakes in the scope of the issues posed in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (Case No. 11-345), which is set for arguments Oct. 10.

This is predominantly a higher ed. case, but our interests in K-12 diversity are not dissimilar to the interests of higher education,” he said.

Student Abigail Fisher challenged the University of Texas at Austin on admissions.

The Fisher case is one of the biggest of the court’s new term, and for now is the only education case on the docket.

It involves Abigail Fisher, a white applicant who was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin in 2008 under the university’s “holistic review” program. That program may take race into account for the quarter of places in UT-Austin’s entering freshman class not filled by the Texas law that guarantees admission to high school students who finish in the top 10 percent of their graduating classes.

Lawyers for Ms. Fisher say that but for the consideration of race, she would have been admitted. They say that the Texas program should be struck down under the 14th Amendment’s equal-protection clause because it fails the requirement for a narrowly tailored race-conscious program set forth in the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger. That 5-4 decision involved the University of Michigan law school, and the majority opinion by then-Justice Sandra Day O’Connor expressed a desire for all use of affirmative action in education to end within 25 years.

Friends of the Court

If Supreme Court cases were decided by the sheer weight of friend-of-the-court briefs, the University of Texas at Austin would easily prevail in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a case involving its race-conscious admissions plan. More than 70 such briefs have been filed before the U.S. Supreme Court on the university’s side, while 17 amicus briefs were filed on student Abigail Fisher’s side. Among the highlights:

From briefs on behalf of Abigail Fisher:

Current and former federal civil rights officials [most of whom served in Republican administrations]:
“The University [of Texas at Austin] is already a remarkably racially diverse institution and has just enrolled its first majority-minority class, thanks almost entirely to the impact of its race-neutral Ten Percent Plan. It is precisely this type of institution that has benefited from, and should continue to benefit the most from, implementing race-neutral alternatives.”

Asian American Legal Foundation:
“In the name of racial diversity, racial preferences in college admissions programs in general, and at the University of Texas at Austin in particular, discriminate against Asian-American applicants by deeming them overrepresented relative to their demographics in the population and thus less worthy of admission than applicants of underrepresented races.”

Pacific Legal Foundation, Center for Equal Opportunity, and other groups:
“So long as universities are allowed to weigh race, there will be an irresistible tendency to do so mechanically and with an eye toward achieving a predetermined racial mix. If such discrimination is banned, schools will instead consider an applicant’s life circumstances and perspectives on an individual basis, which is what ‘individualized consideration’ should mean anyway.”

From briefs on behalf of the University of Texas at Austin:

U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr.:
“The nation’s interests in a range of areas—including military readiness, national security, public health, federal law enforcement, global competitiveness, and education—will be more readily achieved if the pathways to professional success are visibly open to all segments of American society.”

Teach For America:
“History and research show that students from all backgrounds are best served when their classrooms and schools are led by a diverse staff of teachers and principals. Yet without a diverse pipeline of graduates from the nation’s leading colleges and universities, our schools will struggle to recruit the heterogeneous cadre of leaders they badly need.”

The College Board, the National School Boards Association, and other education groups:
“In the elementary and secondary setting, … diversity not only contributes to the achievement of students, it also contributes positively to the development of citizenship traits, transmission of cultural norms, and growth of interpersonal and social skills that students will need to be productive and thriving citizens of a democratic nation.”

SOURCE: Education Week

Opponents of race considerations would be happy to speed up that end point.

The mood of the country concerning racial issues has changed over the last 10 years,” said Edward Blum, the founder of a Washington nonprofit group, the Project on Fair Representation, that is behind Ms. Fisher’s case. “To argue today that children of successful minority parents need affirmative action to be admitted to elite colleges and universities just seems to ring hollow.”

Ms. Fisher, who graduated this year from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, is not giving interviews.

Friends of the Court

If Supreme Court cases were decided by the sheer weight of friend-of-the-court briefs, the University of Texas at Austin would easily prevail in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a case involving its race-conscious admissions plan. More than 70 such briefs have been filed before the U.S. Supreme Court on the university’s side, while 17 amicus briefs were filed on student Abigail Fisher’s side. Among the highlights:

From briefs on behalf of Abigail Fisher:

Current and former federal civil rights officials [most of whom served in Republican administrations]:
“The University [of Texas at Austin] is already a remarkably racially diverse institution and has just enrolled its first majority-minority class, thanks almost entirely to the impact of its race-neutral Ten Percent Plan. It is precisely this type of institution that has benefited from, and should continue to benefit the most from, implementing race-neutral alternatives.”

Asian American Legal Foundation:
“In the name of racial diversity, racial preferences in college admissions programs in general, and at the University of Texas at Austin in particular, discriminate against Asian-American applicants by deeming them overrepresented relative to their demographics in the population and thus less worthy of admission than applicants of underrepresented races.”

Pacific Legal Foundation, Center for Equal Opportunity, and other groups:
“So long as universities are allowed to weigh race, there will be an irresistible tendency to do so mechanically and with an eye toward achieving a predetermined racial mix. If such discrimination is banned, schools will instead consider an applicant’s life circumstances and perspectives on an individual basis, which is what ‘individualized consideration’ should mean anyway.”

From briefs on behalf of the University of Texas at Austin:

U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr.:
“The nation’s interests in a range of areas—including military readiness, national security, public health, federal law enforcement, global competitiveness, and education—will be more readily achieved if the pathways to professional success are visibly open to all segments of American society.”

Teach For America:
“History and research show that students from all backgrounds are best served when their classrooms and schools are led by a diverse staff of teachers and principals. Yet without a diverse pipeline of graduates from the nation’s leading colleges and universities, our schools will struggle to recruit the heterogeneous cadre of leaders they badly need.”

The College Board, the National School Boards Association, and other education groups:
“In the elementary and secondary setting, … diversity not only contributes to the achievement of students, it also contributes positively to the development of citizenship traits, transmission of cultural norms, and growth of interpersonal and social skills that students will need to be productive and thriving citizens of a democratic nation.”

SOURCE: Education Week   http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/09/28/06scotus.h32.html?tkn=XUOFyffLI8gEbWxzrz2Nk2RMFlvQXv3nnePW&cmp=clp-edweek

The theory of “affirmative action” has evolved over time.

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Affirmative action” means positive steps taken to increase the representation of women and minorities in areas of employment, education, and business from which they have been historically excluded. When those steps involve preferential selection—selection on the basis of race, gender, or ethnicity—affirmative action generates intense controversy.

The development, defense, and contestation of preferential affirmative action has proceeded along two paths. One has been legal and administrative as courts, legislatures, and executive departments of government have made and applied rules requiring affirmative action. The other has been the path of public debate, where the practice of preferential treatment has spawned a vast literature, pro and con. Often enough, the two paths have failed to make adequate contact, with the public quarrels not always very securely anchored in any existing legal basis or practice.

The ebb and flow of public controversy over affirmative action can be pictured as two spikes on a line, the first spike representing a period of passionate debate that began around 1972 and tapered off after 1980, and the second indicating a resurgence of debate in the 1990s leading up to the Supreme Court’s decision in the summer of 2003 upholding certain kinds of affirmative action. The first spike encompassed controversy about gender and racial preferences alike. This is because in the beginning affirmative action was as much about the factory, the firehouse, and the corporate suite as about the university campus. The second spike represents a quarrel about race and ethnicity. This is because the burning issue at the turn of the twentieth-first century is about college admissions.[1] In admissions to selective colleges, women need no boost; African-Americans and Hispanics do.[2] http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/affirmative-action/

Stanford provides a good analysis of the theory.

Many educators have long recognized that the impact of social class affects both education achievement and life chances after completion of education. There are two impacts from diversity, one is to broaden the life experience of the privileged and to raise the expectations of the disadvantaged. Social class matters in not only other societies, but this one as well.

A few years back, the New York Times did a series about social class in America. That series is still relevant. Janny Scott and David Leonhardt’s overview, Shadowy Lines That Still Divide describes the challenges faced by schools trying to overcome the disparity in education. The complete series can be found at Social Class

The question which this society has to answer is how to provide a good education for ALL despite, their race or social class.

Related:

3rd world America: Many young people headed for life on the dole https://drwilda.com/2012/09/21/3rd-world-america-many-young-people-headed-for-life-on-the-dole/

The Civil Rights Project report: Segregation in education https://drwilda.com/2012/09/19/the-civil-rights-project-report-segregation-in-education/

Study: Poverty affects education attainment https://drwilda.com/2012/08/29/study-poverty-affects-education-attainment/

Center for American Progress report: Disparity in education spending for education of children of color                     https://drwilda.com/2012/08/22/center-for-american-progress-report-disparity-in-education-spending-for-education-of-children-of-color/

Education funding lawsuits against states on the rise https://drwilda.com/2012/01/25/education-funding-lawsuits-against-states-on-the-rise/

3rd world America: The link between poverty and education https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/3rd-world-america-the-link-between-poverty-and-education/

Race, class, and education in America                 https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/race-class-and-education-in-america/

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One Response to “U.S. Supreme Court to decide the affirmative action case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (Case No. 11-345)”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Affirmative action, critical mass, critical thinking, and groupthink « Comments From An Old Fart - October 7, 2012

    […] Moi wrote about the Texas case in U.S. Supreme Court to decide the affirmative action case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (Case No. 11-345) https://drwilda.com/2012/09/30/u-s-supreme-court-to-decide-the-affirmative-action-case-fisher-v-unive… […]

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