To ensure greater fairness in the college admissions process and to maintain diversity at selective universities, affirmative action programs should be “mended” rather than “ended” so that preferences are provided on the basis of economic disadvantage. All the major proposals for changing affirmative action policies at universities have problems. However, a reformed system based on socioeconomic disadvantage—considering high school quality, parents’ income and net worth, and neighborhood poverty rates, among other factors—could provide elite institutions with racially and economically diverse classes more fairly than programs based purely on race. This brief addresses the strengths and weaknesses of a new affirmative action system, as well as ways to implement such a system in the nation’s colleges and universities. Download report.
Most K-12 education reforms are about trying to make "separate but equal" schools for rich and poor work well. The results of these efforts have been discouraging. The Century Foundation looks at ways to integrate public schools by economic status through public school choice. At the higher education level, we examine ways to open the doors of selective and non-selective institutions to students of modest means.
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