The Next Step in Affirmative Action

Richard Kahlenberg just wrote a Washington Monthly web exclusive in which he points out that some schools in states that have banned affirmative action are still able to do well in the social mobility category of the Washington Monthly‘s college rankings. The reason? Class-based affirmative action programs, which also do a better job of increasing socioeconomic diversity.

Race-based affirmative action, it turns out, doesn’t always do a good job of increasing the percentage of non-rich students who are enrolled:

Carnevale and Rose also found that at these selective 146 institutions—the vast majority of which use race-based affirmative action—low income students were very scarce. Fully 74 percent of students came from the richest socioeconomic quartile and just 3 percent from the bottom quartile. Carnevale and Rose found that race-based affirmative action roughly tripled the representation of blacks and Hispanics, but that low income students received no leg up. Likewise, William Bowen—a strong supporter of race-based affirmative action—found that at 19 selective institutions, being black, Latino or Native American increased one’s chances of being admitted by 28 percentage points, but coming from a low-income family didn’t help at all.

Read the piece here.

Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.