Steve Russell: Affirmative action policy is worth the price to pay

"My mail tells me that Indians, like most Americans, are conflicted about affirmative action, but have little idea what it means. I have written about where it came from but not defined it. The time to engage that task is here.

The practice of affirmative action has two aspects: net broadening and preferences. Net broadening refers to fishing where the fish are: historically black colleges; Hispanic-serving colleges, tribal colleges. Net broadening has been sufficient to enroll plenty of women and Asians, because those groups have the test scores to walk though the front door. Their underrepresentation was a straightforward artifact of discrimination in recruiting and admissions.

While the underrepresentation of Indians, blacks, and Hispanics comes partially from overt discrimination, they also suffer from systemic discrimination by inferior education in K-12 schools, aggravated by generations of low expectations by both schools and parents. These people are like white kids from rural Appalachia, products of similarly inferior schools and low expectations, but the racists use the disparity in test scores to argue that we are naturally suited to take orders and they are naturally suited to give orders."

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Steve Russell: Shaking the Education Tree (Indian Country Today 6/16)

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