Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Last posting (sniff, sniff...)--Affirmative Action!

All right, everyone, the end of our semester is fast approaching and we have time for ONE more blog assignment. Since we're in the midst of a unit on Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, and since most of you are (or will be) going through the college admissions process, I thought a perfect topic for our last online discussion would be AFFIRMATIVE ACTION. For those of you not familiar with the concept, this is basically when, often in the interest of diversity, members of some minority group (women, African-Americans, Hispanics, religious minorities, gays & lesbians, etc.) are given preference when it comes to university admissions, hiring, or promotions.

For example, two different high school seniors are applying to UC Berkeley. One is a white male from La Jolla who has a 3.9 GPA and 740-690-720 on his SATs, the other is an African-American female from South Central Los Angeles who has a 3.6 GPA and 710-670-700 on her SATs. Sometimes, though not always, the 2nd student will be accepted while the 1st student will be rejected, even though 'by the numbers' he would seem to be more qualified. This is a very controversial phenomenon which may affect some of you in your college search process; it may be a benefit or it may be an obstacle.

There are very passionate opinions on both sides of this issue. Are these types of preferences necessary to 'level the playing field,' promote diversity, and make up for decades--even centuries--of oppression and discrimination? Or is this simply 'reverse racism,' when we should live in a color-blind society where people are judged solely by merit? You are going to read some articles that lay out various aspects of these opposing viewpoints. The title link above is one that all of you should read; it's actually 2 different articles, one arguing each side of the issue. In addition to that, please read at least TWO (2) of the three articles linked below:


Also, you should look at the 4 links below, as they talk about some of the most important Supreme Court decisions relating to the issue of affirmative action. The 1st one is from the late 1970s and deals with the University of California; the next 2 are from 2003 and deal with my beloved University of Michigan. BTW, these cases have been known to show up on the AP exam from time to time, as well! The last case is just from the most recent Court session, and may give an indication as to where affirmative action policy is headed in the future.


So after all that, what is it exactly I'd like you all to blog about? Here are the main questions for you to address:
  • Based on what you have read, what do you think are the most effective arguments IN FAVOR OF affirmative action?
  • Based on what you have read, what do you think are the most effective arguments AGAINST affirmative action?
  • What are your own thoughts about affirmative action? Is it necessary to 'level the playing' field? Is it 'reverse discrimination' that should be abolished? Or do you take a middle-of-the-road, 'mend-it-but-don't-end-it' approach?
  • What stands out to you from any/all of the Supreme Court decisions over the years dealing with affirmative action? Do you strongly agree or disagree with any of their reasoning? Why?

Remember, please make TWO (2) separate comments: one on the readings themselves and the questions posed above, and then another in response to a classmate's comment. Obviously you should feel free to post more than that if you so desire! The due date for these comments is the day of your final exam: January 19th (1st period) or January 20th (4th period). I look forward to your comments, and I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for making this first experiment with AP Government blogging such a success! Thanks, Silvy :)