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Affirmative Action

October 17, 2008 • Volume 18, Issue 36
Is it time to end racial preferences?
By Peter Katel

Introduction

University of Nebraska student Jakari Griffith, who opposes an anti-affirmative action initiative on the ballot in Nebraska in November, speaks on campus last Feb. 26. Critics of the proposal say it targets programs benefiting blacks, women and American Indians.  (AP Photo/Bill Wolf)
University of Nebraska student Jakari Griffith, who opposes an anti-affirmative action initiative on the ballot in Nebraska in November, speaks on campus last Feb. 26. Critics of the proposal say it targets programs benefiting blacks, women and American Indians. (AP Photo/Bill Wolf)

Since the 1970s, affirmative action has played a key role in helping minorities get ahead. But many Americans say school and job candidates should be chosen on merit, not race. This November, ballot initiatives in Colorado and Nebraska would eliminate race as a selection criterion for job or school candidates but would allow preferences for those trying to struggle out of poverty, regardless of their race. It's an approach endorsed by foes of racial affirmative action. Big states, meanwhile, including California and Texas, are still struggling to reconcile restrictions on the use of race in college admissions designed to promote diversity. Progress toward that goal has been slowed by a major obstacle: Affirmative action hasn't lessened the stunning racial disparities in academic performance plaguing elementary and high school education. Still, the once open hostility to affirmative action of decades ago has faded. Even some race-preference critics don't want to eliminate it entirely but seek ways to keep diversity without eroding admission and hiring standards.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Affirmative Action
Oct. 17, 2008  Affirmative ActionUpdated
Jul. 11, 2003  Race in America
Sep. 21, 2001  Affirmative Action in Undergraduate Admissions
Jan. 23, 1998  The Black Middle Class
Feb. 23, 1996  Getting Into College
Apr. 28, 1995  Rethinking Affirmative Action
May 17, 1991  Racial Quotas
Apr. 14, 1989  Is Affirmative Action Still the Answer?
Jul. 31, 1981  Affirmative Action Reconsidered
Mar. 30, 1979  Affirmative Action Under Attack
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Affirmative Action
Diversity Issues
Domestic Issues
Equal Employment Opportunity & Discrimination
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