U.S. government blesses omitting race from admissions, enrolment

05 July, 2018, 04:20 | Author: Diane Mills
  • President Donald Trump looks toward Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as he speaks during a workforce  apprenticeship discussion at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster N.J. Friday Aug. 11 2017. Trump received an update on the the president's wor

President Donald Trump's administration took steps on Tuesday (July 3) to rescind Obama-era guidelines that encouraged schools to take applicants' race and ethnicity into account to promote diversity.

The Supreme Court in 2016 gave affirmative action policies a narrow victory in 2016 by upholding a University of Texas program that takes into account race in deciding whom to admit.

Mother Jones: What was the original intent of the guidances that the Trump administration rescinded today?

"We condemn the Department of Education's politically motivated attack on affirmative action and deliberate attempt to discourage colleges and universities from pursuing racial diversity at our nation's colleges and universities", Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration said that the Obama administration's advocacy for a particular policy position was "inconsistent" with the principles for agency guidance.

Tuesday's reversal also does not affect what a school decides to do on its own within the confines of current Supreme Court precedent, but civil rights groups swiftly reacted with disappointment. I think many non-conservatives who may have sympathy for the use of affirmative action are growing increasingly uncomfortable with the fact that Asian Americans are being discriminated against in addition to whites. In April, the department, headed by Betsy DeVos, implemented new guidelines that allowed civil rights investigations to be closed if they were considered "too burdensome " to investigate.

MJ: How does this action compare to what other Republican administrations have done in the past?

Peter McDonough, vice president and general counsel of the American Council on Education, which represents college and university presidents, said he doubted schools would change admission policies based exclusively on Tuesday's announcement.

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"This is not a change in the law, this is not congressional action or a ruling from the Supreme Court", he said. "It happens all the time across administrative units".

The court's most recent significant ruling on the subject endorsed colleges' use of race among many factors in the admission process.

Revoking the Obama-era guidance on affirmative action could affect elementary and secondary schools that have grappled with racial imbalances.

The Trump administration's plan would scrap the existing policies and encourage schools not to consider race at all.

The new policy would dramatically depart from the stance taken by the Obama administration, which in a 2011 policy document said courts had recognized schools' "compelling interest" in diverse populations.

"We're now looking at a post-Kennedy Supreme Court".

Schools could also lose funding from the Education Department if they don't practice race-blind admission processes. But she said it will have no impact on laws that govern school integration and admissions, nor will it affect the hundreds of schools under desegregation orders.

"They've obviously been looking at the case for nearly a year now", Clegg said.


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