Affirmative action must be redacted

 Though most elite colleges require high standardized test scores, a new law would provide a different standard for those of lower socioeconomic status. Affirmative action may sound appealing to low-income students and underrepresented races, but in reality, it is an unfair judgment of a student’s academic abilities based on one’s ethnic background.

Prop. 16 on the Nov. 3 ballot is asking California voters to decide whether or not to bring affirmative action back. This idea, which was repealed in 1996 by Prop. 206, is the practice of favoring individuals, in government hiring and entrance to state college, who have been discriminated against in the past. Many believe the practice is necessary to level the playing field for poorer communities and enable them to attend college.

 However, affirmative action has had a more negative impact due to the acceptance provided toward minority groups, causes social division, makes favored minorities struggle in positions they are not prepared for, and has increased discrimination toward certain applicants. 

As a result, affirmative action would make it more difficult for certain minorities, such as Asian Americans, to get into the college of their choice. Asian Americans currently make up about 40 percent of the UC system and 59 percent of all college undergraduates overall. This number has significantly increased since the end of Prop 16 in 1998. According to public information provided by the College Board about standardized test scores by race, Asian Americans made up a much higher portion (60 percent) of students who scored a 750-800 on the math section of their SAT in comparison to Latinos (5 percent) and Blacks (2 percent). This large gap shows that Asian Americans on average scored higher on both parts of the SAT than the other ethnic groups. The reintroduction of this proposition would decrease the amount of Asians with high test scores into elite colleges. 

According to college enrollment demographic rates in 2018, the UC system was made up 4 percent of Blacks and 41.5 percent of Hispanics. The average SAT test scores that Latinos and Blacks receive is between 428-427. Whites and Asians SAT test scores show significant higher SAT test scores between a 534-598. Due to higher test scores of whites and Asians, colleges tend to let them in more than Blacks and Latinos, causing them to be underrepresented. 

Four out of five people living in poorer communities consist of Blacks and Latinos. If affirmative action were to come back, colleges would accept minorities who may have not done well in high school to highly ranked colleges. Students would be faced with challenging courses they may not be prepared to take and this could have a negative impact on how they perform both in school and in future job positions. As a result, affirmative action would not fix this issue. It would merely pose a challenge to those underprepared students it lets in.

If affirmative action became a reality, it would allow colleges to give more weight to race and put less emphasis on school grades and standardized testing. While there should be a variety of different races and people at all colleges, affirmative action provides an unfair playing field for other minorities.  Prop. 16  will not solve issues of disproportional enrollment. Instead, it will just unfairly reject certain minorities who deserve to be at highly ranked schools.

 Asian Americans and whites historically, have higher test averages than those of African Americans and Latinos. There is obviously a disparity in the education system that we have to address, but affirmative action is not the solution. Instead, there should be reallocation of tax dollars to the education system which can be used to help fund tutoring programs in poorer communities. This will help underrepresented students get the help they need to be more competitive in the college application process as well as prepare them for life in college and in the workforce.

Affirmative action defeats the whole purpose of meritocracy, putting race above merit as an admission factor. This also perpetuates the stereotype that people of the lower class need help. The best people for a position should be chosen based on their work ethic alone, regardless of what race or socioeconomic background they come from.