How do you feel about this from the perspective of your child's educational opportunities?

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Registered: 05-18-2005
How do you feel about this from the perspective of your child's educational opportunities?
10
Wed, 10-10-2012 - 6:56am

The Supreme Court revisits affirmative action in higher education this term.  Do you feel that the current practices enrich the learni ng experience and environment for your child?  Limit seats available at schools where he or she is qualified?  Do you think it affects gifted kids differently, because of the competitiveness for spots at top schools?

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/09/us/supreme-court-to-hear-case-on-affirmative-action.html?ref=education

Gwen

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Registered: 05-18-2005

Personally, I think preferences based on socio-economic opportunity rather than race per se are perceived as fairer and do as much or more to provide a learning environment with different perspectives represented.  The minority kids who benefitted from preferences at my college included the extremely privileged daughter of a wealthy coffee plantation owner (but hey, she was Latina) and an African-American from the upper middle class who had gone to a fancy  private school before college.  More beneficiaries were like these guys, who would have gone to college anyhow albeit possibly at a slightly lower-ranked school, than those who needed a hand up to have a chance to meet their potential.

Gwen

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Registered: 01-05-2005

I am very supportive of affirmative action, and although yes, I think that socio-economic factors should play a role, I think race still plays a factor in success, even for the daughter of a wealthy businessman. Most schools that use race (like UT) use it as ONE factor in a long list of factors - and with UT, it already accepts the top 10% of every high school in the state, so frankly, I don't see any of my kids having a problem finishing in the top 10%. Do I think it limits seats at highly selective schools? Sure. The two friends my dd19 has at Ivies are both minorities, and I'm guessing if dd had applied, she wouldn't have gotten in, even though she met the standards. However, I also think that my dd has a huge benefit in life being a pretty, middle-class, white girl. *Most* of her minority friends (show choir was very racially diverse, so she had the chance to make a wide variety of friends. Her long-standing best friend is a Hindu 1st generation Indian) are from first or second generation US families, or first- or second-generation middle class (if that makes sense) so even the ones whose parents are doing well (and many aren't) don't have the family network, business contacts, etc. Many don't have parents who went to college. Many are still poor.

But, more than that, I want my kids to go to school, grow up, and work in a racially and socio-economically diverse environment, so I am just fine with efforts to "balance" the scales. Frankly, I've read about Abigail Fisher and I think she sounds like a whiney, entitled kid. And I don't want to sound mean, but geez - she had a 3.6 GPA and scored "nearly" 1200 on the SAT. Ummm, my ds12 scored a solid 1200 (not almost) in 6th grade. So, I have no concerns about my kids getting into a decent college.

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2006

This ruling doesn't affect academically gifted students at all.   Texas guarantees admission to in-state students who were in the top 10% of their graduating class (I think this number has been revised downward recently to 8 or 9%.).

Here's a list of special circumstances that UT considers in its "holistic review":
    Socioeconomic status of family
    Single parent home
    Language spoken at home
    Family responsibilities
    Overcoming adversity
    Cultural background
    Race and ethnicity
    Other information in the file

So...Ms. Fisher is crying foul because she didn't get automatic admission, and a review of her test scores and extracurricular activities and essay did not meet UT's admissions criteria...and she did not have "special circumstances" as listed above that were sufficient to overcome those obstacles. 

The reason UT Austin structured its automatic admissions policly the way that it is...was for the benefit of the state overall, to insure that the best potential students from ALL backgrounds were represented .  (In fact, latino students are under represented at UT.)  The top two graduates from my town have automatic admission to UT (if they wish) despite the obvious fact that my town's educational opportunities cannot begin to match those found in a school like Austin's Westlake High.  Sadly, UT is too expensive for most in my area to afford and I actually do not know any who are attending. 

Ms. Fisher's "jobs" argument is bogus.  In spite of the earnest work of state legislators/government to change this, Texas has an excellent university system, with other well known colleges in addition to the flagship "public ivy", and those graduates do very well in the job market...Ms. Fisher could have attended Texas Tech or Texas A&M, if she barely missed the cutoff for UT.   It's more likely that the recession is to blame for Ms. Fisher's job prospects/satisfaction.  The state university down the road that my son attends accepts almost everyone...but it has the look and feel of a small liberal arts college, and the people I've known that went there have no trouble getting jobs.  In fact, there are some departments that outperform those of much larger and more prestigious institutions.    

As a graduate and employee of UT Austin, I think that the unversity accomplishes its mission rather well...it would be unfortunate if it is forced to go back to its previous policy of doing everything "by the numbers". 

Deborah

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Registered: 05-18-2005

Our state university doesn't have a "top 10% rule", and I'm not sure how it would be applied if it did, because there are so many specialized high schools in the city.  Some schools don't rank at all.

Gwen   

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-12-2003
I think ashmama hit the nail on the head regarding the impact on admission to top tier schools. We have been through the college admissions process twice. I can't tell you how many times we were told that our ds would not get into the Ivies or highly selective liberal arts colleges simply because he was not a student of color or first generation. He ended up being accepted to all of his schools and from what I have seen at his school, the student body is exceptional, regardless of race or income level. They really do craft a class student by student, and if you have a talent they need, you will be offered a spot. It certainly seems that every one of the kids we've met at these schools has stellar grades and test scores, but each has something unique about them that made them stand out. In fact our son told us that freshman year, they used to joke about what they found out about each other that most likely got them an acceptance. The Ivies and the highly selective schools (admission rates of less than 15%) are a different beast altogether and I agree that they will not likely be impacted by this decision.
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Registered: 05-13-1998

I don't know that I have more to add. I support affirmative action. Until there is not such a disconnect between the education that children get based on their socio-economic status, we need it. DD was in an inner city magnet first 2 years of highschool. Incredibly diverse, talented and positive student body but pretty much only the bussed in asians and whites were in the advanced and honors classes. The kids from the neighborhood didn't have the academic foundation to qualify for these classes and I'll say, the quality of teachers on a whole was mindblowingly low (outside a small handful.) I can only imagine what one of the "regular" schools in the area looked like academically.... and this wasn't even a "rough" area... just ethnic. In fact the high school is considered the "safest" in the entire district (which is the 6th largest district in the country.) I can't look at that situation and not support some form of affirmative action.

We know many kids who didn't get into their dream schools but we don't know any that didn't get in to a college period. The kids who didn't get into their dream schools... well, frankly, were kids that weren't that interesting. Yes, all your typical high achievements but with no record fo really pursuing a passion of their own. 

What I personally feel a little guilty about is that my kids still qualify as an ethnic minority. My mother's parents immigrated to this country... one from Mexico, one from the Philipines. My mom is first generation in this country. Spanish was her first language. Lived in impoverished circumstances and started working in the fields at the age of 6. Worked her tale of in school but they were sub-standard schools. Affirmative action was meant for her and she did go to college and became a success story as did 5 others of her 8 siblings. Me, well, I'm half minority but I didn't live in poverty... tight budget maybe but not poor. My kids are firm middle class and have had every educational advantage. Affirmative action isn't meant for them. That said, does their background make them interesting? Yes, I think so. They are rooted in different worlds and that gives them a different perspective than a lot of kids we know particularly on issues of race.

Sorry, I'm running away on this topic. To answer the question... I do believe we still need affirmative action. Maybe we need to tweek it a bit but the premise is still good. I don't believe it hurts white, gifted students and obviously, I don't think it'll hurt my own kids.

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Registered: 04-12-2003
No, he attends school on the other coast! He had no desire to look at schools out west. We visited a lot of schools with him and our dd, so if you have any questions about schools on the east, and a couple in the midwest, let me know!