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Appears in:
Page: 6231 (abstract only)
Publication year: 2015
ISBN: 978-84-608-2657-6
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2015
Location: Seville, Spain

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AND P-16 U.S. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: THE U.S. SUPREME COURT AND THE POTENTIAL FOR A DIVERSE EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT

S. Eckes

Indiana University (UNITED STATES)
Schools and universities continue to grapple with racially segregated school systems in the U.S. Indeed, racial and ethnic diversity continue to be important factors contributing to the quality of education in both K-12 and postsecondary settings. “[D]iversity not only contributes to the achievement of students, it also contributes positively to the development of citizenship traits, transmission of cultural norms, and growth of interpersonal and social skills that students will need to be productive and thriving citizens of a democratic nation.” In order to encourage greater racial integration, some schools and universities have adopted race-conscious admissions programs (i.e., affirmative action policies). These affirmative action programs sometimes invite legal challenges. In a typical case, a white plaintiff will allege violations of his or her right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. Under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, similarly situated people need to be treated the same. This is the same legal claim argued in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. While in 1954 black plaintiffs argued for equal treatment within public schools, the current affirmative cases involve white plaintiffs wanting equal treatment. The white plaintiffs contend that when race is considered in K-12 and university admissions programs, it violates the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Twelve years ago in Grutter v. Bollinger , the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that diversity was a compelling state interest in higher education when it upheld an affirmative action program at the University of Michigan. As such, university administrators could consider race in admitting students if such plans were narrowly tailored (e.g., the law is written carefully to meet an intended goal). Specifically, race could not be factored in a stringent way but could be considered flexibly in admissions programs. Also, schools and universities were encouraged to attempt race-neutral measures (e.g., using a student’s socio-economic status) to achieving diversity before considering race. In 2007, it was reaffirmed that diversity in education is a compelling state interest but in this K-12 decision the Court found that the school districts in Seattle and Louisville did not narrowly tailor their admissions plans (i.e., they relied too heavily on race). In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear another affirmative action case within the higher education context. In Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a white student argued that she was denied admission because of her race.

Although the Court upheld its prior precedent that diversity in higher education is a compelling state interest, it found that the lower court did not properly review the University’s admissions process under the strict scrutiny standard; and therefore, the case was remanded for the lower court to determine if the admissions process is narrowly tailored to accomplish the goal. The Fifth Circuit upheld the university’s plan. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear this case again in fall 2015 and this session will discuss its possible implications.
keywords: diversity, equity, access.
@InProceedings{ECKES2015AFF,
author = {Eckes, S.},
title = {AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AND P-16 U.S. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: THE U.S. SUPREME COURT AND THE POTENTIAL FOR A DIVERSE EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT},
series = {8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2015 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-608-2657-6},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {18-20 November, 2015},
year = {2015},
pages = {6231}}
TY - CONF
AU - S. Eckes
TI - AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AND P-16 U.S. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: THE U.S. SUPREME COURT AND THE POTENTIAL FOR A DIVERSE EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT
SN - 978-84-608-2657-6/2340-1095
PY - 2015
Y1 - 18-20 November, 2015
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2015 Proceedings
SP - 6231
EP - 6231
ER -
S. Eckes (2015) AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AND P-16 U.S. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: THE U.S. SUPREME COURT AND THE POTENTIAL FOR A DIVERSE EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT, ICERI2015 Proceedings, p. 6231.
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