In one of the latest contributions to the commentary on the Fisher case, sociologist Thomas Espenshade speculates that institutions of higher education may be facing the end of affirmative action. Citing the study of affirmative action students he did with his co-author Alexandra Walton Radford, Espenshade acknowledges in a New York Times opinion piece that students admitted to selective colleges tend to graduate toward the bottom of their classes. However, Espenshade argues that no policy, including socioeconomic affirmative action, would generate as much racial and ethnic diversity as race-based affirmative action. “Most important,” he writes, “our study found that without affirmative action, racial diversity could only be preserved if there were no racial differences in learned skills and knowledge or in college preparedness.” In other words, he sees affirmative action as necessary precisely because it brings relatively unprepared students with comparatively low academic skills and knowledge into selective colleges, and these students tend to remain behind others throughout their academic careers.
|Professor Thomas Espenshade|