Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Mismatch" Theory of Affirmative Action Debunked

In a working paper entitled "Affirmative Action in Law School Admissions: What Do Racial Preferences Do?" the National Bureau of Economic Research demonstrates that the elimination of affirmative action would result in an appalling 63% decline in the number of African American law students. Read about the study here. This finding disproves the foundational assumption of Professor Richard Sanders's "Mismatch" theory. As explained by the Society of American Law Teachers,
Key to Sander’s argument is an assumption that affirmative action only influences which schools African American students attend, not whether they will attend law school. The “mismatch” occurs when seemingly less qualified African Americans, based on GPA and LSAT scores, are enrolled in elite law schools, the result of race-conscious admissions programs. According to Sander’s theory, these affirmative action admittees do not have the skills needed to fully succeed in these rarified scholastic environments. In essence, Sander claims that affirmative action actually harms black law school students, because if race-based preferences were eliminated, their success rates—measured by law school grades, graduation rates, bar passage, and post-graduation employment—would increase substantially. These African American applicants would attend less prestigious law schools that are more compatible with their academic development.

Now, as a professor at a "less prestigious law school" I would welcome any and all African American applicants turned away at the top of the food chain, but the assumption that a law school's ranking measures its academic rigor or excellence is as insulting as the assumption that an applicant's LSAT score measures his or her promise as a lawyer.

1 comment:

Emily said...

My first time visiting your blog and I find it over a month behind?? You have 330 pages to list all of your books? Are they all books you own? Talk to you later. Love you, mom.