The U.S. Department of Education has announced it will be holding a one-day summit on college admissions and racial diversity dubbed the “National Summit on Equal Opportunity in Higher Education” in the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling banning the use of racial preferences in college admissions.
On June 29, by a vote of 6-3, the Supreme Court ruled that “affirmative action” and other race-preferential systems of discrimination in college admissions violated the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Chief Justice John Roberts stated in his opinion that white and Asian students were directly discriminated against under affirmative action.
The Biden administration claims that the court’s ruling “limited a vital tool that many institutions of higher education and post-secondary institutions have used for decades to help create vibrant, diverse campus communities.”
President Joe Biden claimed that students weren’t discriminated against when affirmative action was in place. “Many people wrongly believe that affirmative action allows unqualified students—unqualified students—to be admitted ahead of qualified students. This is not—this is not how college admissions work.”
This is objectively false.
Several class-action lawsuits reveal that universities like Harvard University and the University of North Carolina (the two defendants in the Supreme Court case) accepted “black and brown” students with lower standardized test scores while limiting the number of Asian students who could enter, regardless of the Asian students’ test scores.
Affirmative action allowed university admissions offices to limit students with higher test scores in the name of “racial equity and diversity” by suggesting that a student’s skin color had more value than merit did.
GianCarlo Canaparo, a senior legal fellow in the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation, outlined the chances of students’ admission based on color if they applied to Harvard University before the court’s ruling (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization):
At Harvard, an Asian applicant with academics in the top 10% has a 12.7% chance of getting in. But with the same grades and test scores, a black student has a 56.1% chance. In fact, race is determinative for at least 45% of black and Hispanic applicants to Harvard.
Biden criticized the Supreme Court’s actions as political, telling a reporter, “This is not a normal court,” promising press conference attendees that his Department of Education would continue work on “college diversity.”
It appears this summit is one of those attempts.
Notably, the summit summary from the Department of Education suggests the conference will focus on “strategies higher education leaders are pursuing for reimagining admissions,” which may be construed as a method of circumventing the court’s decision to ban racial discrimination.
In the event agenda, a panel is scheduled to “present a forward-looking vision about how [panelists] plan to engage and recruit diverse students.” In a later panel, Department of Education, White House, and Civil Rights Commission officials plan to offer “targeted recruitment strategies.”
Jonathan Butcher, who is Heritage’s Will Skillman senior research fellow in education policy, says the White House should be “ashamed.” He told The Daily Signal:
The department’s announcement is clearly—and inappropriately—advocating for racial discrimination in college admissions. By using a euphemism for racial preferences and calling the preferences a ‘vital tool,’ the Education Department is rejecting the Supreme Court’s recent seminal ruling that reinforced the Civil Rights Act.
The White House should be ashamed at their own administration’s attempts to help colleges go around the Supreme Court ruling. For years, surveys have found widespread opposition to racial preferences, so the Biden administration is clearly ignoring the positions of a majority of Americans, as well.
And research has found that racial preferences create a mismatch between students and colleges, depressing student achievement and long-term job prospects. The administration’s position is actually harming the very students it intends to help.
The Department of Education’s racial admissions summit includes Biden administration officials from the White House, the Civil Rights Commission, “student leaders,” college and university administrators, and “Tribal leaders.”
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