Ross Douthat

"If you hope to obtain a bachelor's degree by age twenty-four, your chances are roughly one in two if you come from a family with an annual income over $90,000; roughly one in four if your family's income falls between $61,000 and $90,000; and slightly better than one in ten if it is between $35,000 and $61,000. For high schoolers whose families make less than $35,000 a year the chances are around one in seventeen."

Ross Douthat, Does Meritocracy Work?, The Atlantic (November 1, 2005)

The Atlantic

"Two experiments prove that the indicies are working. In 2009, Gaertner had admissions officers review 478 applications, first under CU-Boulder's race-based policy and then under the new class-based policy, with all racial identifiers removed. Officers ended up admitting 9 percent more underrepresented minority students under the race-blind policy than and 20 percent more students of very low socioeconomic status."

Sophie Quinton, What If Colleges Embraced Affirmative Action for Class Instead of Race?, The Atlantic (October 21, 2013) 

John Cassidy

"Increasingly, the most profound dividing line in the United States is class rather than race. At top colleges, there are large numbers of minority students, but a good many of them come from upper-middle-class or rich backgrounds. It’s much rarer to find students, black or white, who come from poor families. Indeed, according to one recent study, just three per cent of the students at highly selective colleges come from households in the the bottom twenty per cent of the income distribution. And just ten per cent of the students at these colleges come from families in the bottom half of the income distribution."

The Case for Race-Blind Affirmative Action, John Cassidy, The New Yorker (April 24, 2014)

William Deresiewicz

"Today, fewer than half of high-scoring students from low-income families even enroll at four-year schools... The education system has to act to mitigate the class system, not reproduce it. Affirmative action should be based on class instead of race, a change that many have been advocating for years... High-quality public education, financed with public money, for the benefit of all: the exact commitment that drove the growth of public higher education in the postwar years. Everybody gets an equal chance to go as far as their hard work and talent will take them—you know, the American dream. Everyone who wants it gets to have the kind of mind-expanding, soul-enriching experience that a liberal arts education provides. We recognize that free, quality K–12 education is a right of citizenship. We also need to recognize—as we once did and as many countries still do—that the same is true of higher education. We have tried aristocracy. We have tried meritocracy. Now it’s time to try democracy."

Don't Send Your Kid to the Ivy League, William Deresiewicz, The New Republic, July 21, 2014 

Richard Kahlenberg

"If a majority of Americans don’t like racial preferences, they also don’t want universities to become overwhelmingly white and Asian—something that would happen, studies predict, if race is eliminated from admissions decisions and not replaced with any alternatives. In virtually all eight states that banned racial-preference policies—six by referenda, one by legislation, and one by executive order—the political will existed to replace racial affirmative action with class-based preferences. There were also plans to increase financial aid and build new partnerships between universities and high poverty secondary schools to better prepare students. In some cases, the elimination of legacy preferences that benefit the largely wealthy children of alumni was on the table. Taken together, these policies produced both considerable racial and economic diversity."

The Class-Based Future of Affirmative Action, Richard Kahlenberg, The American Prospect (June 25, 2013)

Richard Kahlenberg

"Alito said, 'I thought that the whole purpose of affirmative action was to help students who come from underprivileged backgrounds.' The dirty little secret of higher education, however, is that selective universities are more interested in admitting fairly affluent students of all colors than in promoting social mobility. In 2004, rich kids were found to outnumber poor kids on selective campuses by 25 to 1; on highly selective campuses, 86 percent of African American students are middle or upper class, and the white students are even richer."

Affirmative action based on income, Richard Kahlenberg, Washington Post (November 8, 2012)

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  1. John McWhorter