The concept of affirmative action has been evolving over the years. According to Babkina (2003), the concept of affirmative action was meant to eliminate the sufferings of the minorities and enable them to access benefits enjoyed by the majority. It was meant to eliminate institutionalized discriminations such as admissions to institutions of higher learning and access to education loans. However, a section of the society has been accused of a lack of goodwill in upholding affirmative action. In this paper, the researcher will focus on the relevance of affirmative action in accessing higher education.
Social Issue Contained Within the Policy
The concept of affirmative action in the higher education sector has remained a controversial and divisive issue in American society. This problem has been witnessed almost in all colleges in the country. The minorities, especially Asian and African Americans, have been complaining that admission to Ivy League Colleges such as Yale and Harvard is a preserve for the Whites. In most of the cases, it is not easy to clearly identify the people who define the problem. For instance, the Whites believe that the concept of affirmative action is locking them out of the colleges they deserve simply to give way to the minorities. On the other hand, the minorities are complaining that colleges are not doing enough to admit minorities as outlined in the affirmative action. This blame game makes it difficult to identify the victim and the aggressor. However, a commonly accepted social value is that every American should never be denied any opportunity that he or she rightfully deserves on the basis of age, race, religion, social class, or any other demographical factors. It is, therefore, important to determine the relevance of affirmative action in the education sector. The researcher supports the need to introduce a new policy that abolishes any form or favoritism towards or discrimination against any social group in the United States. College admission should purely be based on merit. On its part, the government should ensure that students from poor families have access to education loans.
The goal of the Policy Being Analyzed
In this policy, the main goal is to provide an equal platform for higher learning for students irrespective of their social background. Policies that promote favoring the minorities have been blamed for inculcating hatred and creating an unleveled playing field for the students. As Kennedy (2013) notes, the only way of having a society where fairness is seen to prevail is to create a leveled playing ground for all. All the colleges, including Ivy League Colleges, should base their admission on the academic performance of the applicants. The students should be admitted based on nothing but academic excellence. Once the admission is given, the government will need to step in and offer loans to students who are from poor backgrounds. This can never be considered unfair treatment. It is a government responsibility to ensure that everyone acquires education. The goal does is not in conflict with other human rights policies, especially among those who are interested in creating fairness in this sector. It seeks to advance human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice.
Relevant Public Policies
According to Maltz (2005), many public institutions are currently struggling to implement relevant educational equity policy. A good example is the Portland Public Schools Educational Equity Policy that emphasizes the need to protect the interest of the minorities while still letting the majorities have their way. The concept of democracy and affirmative action are always conflicting. Democracy allows the majority to have their way. On the other hand, affirmative action seeks to ensure that minorities’ rights are observed. These two concepts can be merged to have a system where the majority can still have their way in a system where minorities’ rights are protected. Martin (2001) argues that in the education sector, everyone should be treated as equals at all times. Giving minorities some privileges may make them feel weak. Fighting this stereotype may be almost impossible unless they are made to believe that success can only be achieved through hard work. The educational equality policies should emphasize on extending loans to students from less fortunate families. It is important to note that poverty may affect Whites, Asians, or African Americans. All of them should be accorded equal opportunity when it comes to accessing loans to enable them to attend colleges they qualified for.
Possibilities of Hidden Agendas
The issue of hidden agenda in new policies has made the America society very sensitive whenever new policies are enacted. In this new proposed policy, there are no hidden agendas. The aim is to eliminate any previous policies that have been seen to favor a section of the society at the expense of others. To promote fairness and respect among the stakeholders, everyone should be seen to benefit from their own efforts. No one shall have undue advantage over others. All the public universities should admit students based on their preferences and academic qualifications. Laws should be put in place to ensure that private institutions do not engage in discriminatory practices when selecting their students. They should be seen to be fair and must use specific criteria that are not discriminatory in nature in their admissions.
People who Will Advocate for the Policy and Those who are Likely to Be in Opposition
It is expected that a section of the society may support this new policy while others may be opposed to it. Since the emergency of the concept of affirmative action, the Whites who form the majority of people in this country have complained that their positions are taken by the minorities with lesser qualifications compared to their simple because of the need to balance the number of students admitted at some of the top universities in the country. They are more likely to support this policy that emphasizes on the use of merit when admitting students. There will be no quota systems in the admissions. The colleges will solely base their admission on the application of the students and their academic qualifications. A few members of the society, in fact a small fraction of the minorities, may be opposed to this new policy. They may consider it a leeway for the majority to take over positions that had been previous preserved for them. In this new system, they will have to understand that admission into colleges is based on nothing but academic excellence. They will have to embrace the new concept where no one is considered special based on race, religion, social class or any other demographical factors.
Social Programs Being Implemented as a Result of the Policy
The American society is already implementing programs that are in line with this policy. For instance, a ruling in Michigan court held that affirmative action cannot be achieved in a democratic space in terms of representation in the parliament. The most basic principle of democracy is a rule by the people. People are allowed to elect their leaders to hold various posts. If affirmative actions were to be upheld, then it would mean the minorities will have to be considered in special ways to ensure that they are among the elected leaders. This may involve giving them direct nomination, a move that may be seen to be unfair to the majority. In institutions of higher learning, most of the top colleges are now giving emphasis to the academic excellence of their applicants when admitting their students.
The strength of this new concept is that it upholds human rights, social and environmental justice. Everyone is given an equal platform to achieve academic excellence that will have direct impact on their future economic status. On the other hand this policy has some weaknesses that may need to be addressed. Students from rich families that can afford to attend some of the best high schools will be more likely to join the Ivy League Colleges because they have higher probability of passing their exams. The government can address this problem by equipping colleges.
Those who are impacted by the policy
Students joining colleges will be directly impacted by this policy. Those who have traditionally been denied entry to the best colleges due to their race, religion, or any other demographical factors are set to benefit. On the other hand, those who have been enjoying undue benefits due to their social background may be affected negatively by the policy. Admissions will purely be based on academic qualifications.
Intended and possible unintended impacts of the policy
The intended impact of this policy is complete elimination of any fair practices against any section of the society. We are one people in one country fighting to achieve success, and therefore, no one should have preferential treatment. No one is a lesser American. This new policy will help eliminate some common stereotypes such as the belief that Blacks are unproductive. Any Black who makes it to Yale or Harvard should be considered intelligent as any other student in that college. It is intended to make all Americans equal in all aspects. The capitalism may make some richer than others, but that does not make anyone more deserving when it comes to accessing education. The unintended impact may be a possible negative reaction from a section of the society that may consider the new policy unfavorable to them.
The costs and benefits
There has been massive outcry among the minorities and the majorities at to the real beneficiaries of the affirmative action. The minority complain that its implementation has failed while the majority argues that it unduly favors the minorities. This new concept will benefit everyone because the worth of all Americans will be specifically judged based on their capacities. Colleges will admit students using their academic performance as the major criteria. The cost of the policy may be felt by a section of the society that has always received preferential treatment due to their race, religion, or any other demographical factors.
Babkina, A. M. (2003). Affirmative action: An annotated bibliography. New York: Nova Science Publishers.
Kennedy, R. (2013). For Discrimination: Race, Affirmative Action, and the Law. New York: Cengage.
Maltz, L. (2005). Affirmative action. Farmington Hills: Greenhaven Press.
Martin, T. (2001). The affirmative action empire: Nations and nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.