Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It's Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won't Admit It

Richard H. Sander and Stuart Taylor Jr.
Richard H. Sander and Stuart Taylor Jr. . Basic, $26.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-4650-3001-9
Reviewed on: 10/15/2012
Hardcover - 348 pages - 978-0-465-02996-9
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-71385-7
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Race-based admissions preferences at American universities actually harm the academic progress of the black and Hispanic students they are supposed to help, according to this eye-opening critique of affirmative action. UCLA law prof Sander and veteran legal journalist Taylor (Until Proven Innocent) draw on a wealth of research, including Sander's study of law schools, on the performance of "mismatched" students enabled by preferences to attend elite schools where their academic preparation is weaker than that of other students. The results, they contend, are dismal: mismatched students learn less, get lower grades, and are less likely to graduate or pursue majors in the sciences than if they had gone to less selective schools where teaching is geared to their academic backgrounds—and they feel correspondingly demoralized. Conversely, the authors offer striking data on the benign effects on black and Hispanic students of California's Prop 209, which banned the consideration of race, ethnicity, and sex in public institution admissions. Sander and Taylor present a lucid, accessible analysis of affirmative action in higher education and the groupthink enshrouding it, one that grapples with its failures while eschewing genetic determinism. Their well-argued challenge to the prevailing orthodoxy on racial preferences is sure to provoke controversy—and rethinking just as the Supreme Court hears an affirmative action case involving the University of Texas-Austin. (Oct. 9)
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