Alternative to Affirmative Action Less Effective, Study Finds
Two reports released this month by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University suggest that affirmative action alternatives—specifically the “race-neutral” percent plans advocated by the Bush Administration—are ineffective in promoting racial diversity.
The evaluated percent programs—implemented in Texas, California, and Florida—purport to enhance racial diversity at universities by admitting set percentages of students—10, 4, and 20 percent, respectively—from each high school. However, researcher and co-director of the Civil Rights Project Gary Orfield argued, “Affirmative action is a modest and effective tool that universities need… and it is simply wrong to suggest that we have found any kind of simple nonracial alternative,” reported the New York Times. Using data collected from various sources including state agencies, the federal National Center for Education Statistics, and the US Census, researchers found that in most cases, “institutions have not been successful in maintaining racially/ethnically diverse campuses through percent plans.” For example, at the University of California at Berkeley where affirmative action was last used in 1997, the percentage of blacks and Latinos in the freshman class declined from 6.7 and 16.9 percent in 1995, respectively to 3.9 and 10.8 percent in 2001, according to the Los Angeles Times. Racial breakdowns of university student populations continue to the lag behind those of general state populations.
The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in March for two related affirmative action cases involving the University of Michigan. Last month, the Bush Administration announced its decision to file an amicus brief supporting the white students against the University of Michigan’s admission policy, which considers race, along with geography, test scores, grades, and a host of other personal achievements. The Washington Post today reported that various groups and individuals including General Motors, the AFL-CIO, the American Bar Association, several Ivy League universities, and retired high-ranking military officers, plan to submit amicus briefs in support of Michigan’s position.
Media Resources: Civil Rights Project 2/7/03; NY Times 2/11/03; Washington Post 2/11/03; LA Times 2/11/03
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .