Anti-Bias Program -- Los Angeles Times Nov. 15,
In this news article, L.A. Times staff writer Stuart Silverman wrote:
"[Sander's] study asserts that law school affirmative action programs often draw
African Americans to tougher schools where they struggle to keep up, leading many to earn
poor grades, drop out and fail their state bar exams.
interview with the Times, the study's author, Professor Richard H. Sander, said 'The big
picture is that this system of racial preferences is no longer clearly achieving the goal
of expanding the number of black lawyers. There's a very good chance that we're
creating such high attrition rates that we're actually lowering production of black
lawyers, and certainly we are weakening the preparation of the black lawyers we are
The Times report continues: "[Opponents of racial preferences] have made
similar arguments about racial preferences in the past, but Sander's research provides new
statistics on academic performance. He reports that, in his national sampling,
nearly half of first-year black students received grades placing them in the bottom tenth
of their classes. In addition, he found that among all students who entered law
school in 1991, 45% of black students graduated and passed the bar exam on their first
try, while 78% of whites did so.
"Sander, who now favors scaling back affirmative action, argues that racial
preferences often create an "academic mismatch" that puts black students into
competition with white students with stronger credentials. He contends that if the same
black students went to less selective law schools, they would earn higher grades, raising
their chances of graduating and passing the bar exam.
"UCLA law professor Richard H. Sander ... generally seems an unlikely candidate to
challenge a leading liberal cause. Sander, 48, is a soft-spoken former VISTA volunteer who for years has
studied housing discrimination and championed efforts to fight segregation in Los Angeles.
A self-described "pragmatic progressive" who supported John Kerry for president,
Sander also promoted a local program in the 1990s to help the working poor win more
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Does Affirmative Action Hurt
Black Law Students? --
Chronicle of Higher Education Nov. 12, 2004 by Katherine S. Mangan
"Affirmative action hurts black law students more than it helps them by bumping
applicants up into law schools where they are more likely to earn poor grades, drop out,
and fail their states' bar exams, according to a forthcoming study by a law professor at
the University of California at Los Angeles.
"The author, Richard H. Sander, argues that ending racial preferences in law-school
admissions would increase the number of black lawyers because it would help ensure that
students attend law schools where they are more likely to succeed.
"A report of the study, scheduled to appear in the November issue of the Stanford Law
Review, has sparked a contentious debate among supporters and critics of affirmative
"Sander said: 'The study is implicitly pretty critical of what law schools are doing.
For any defender of affirmative action, which is a core article of faith in higher
education, and especially in law schools, this seems like a fundamental assault on
cherished ideas and values.'
"Mr. Sander's main source of data is the last comprehensive study of bar-passage
rates, which was conducted between 1991 and 1997 by the Law School Admission Council. That
study of 27,000 students who entered law school in 1991 found a wide gap between the
grades and test scores of minority students and those of white counterparts.
"Mr. Sander also drew data from his own study of students who entered 20 law schools
in 1995. His analysis focuses on black students alone. (He is working on another study
that includes other underrepresented minority groups).
"His study, 'A Systemic Analysis of Affirmative Action in American Law Schools,'
Sander stops short of calling for an end to all racial preferences, but argues that they
should at least be scaled back if, as he contends, they are hurting the intended
beneficiaries more than they are helping them."
||After the first year of law school, 51 percent of black students have
grade-point averages that place them in the bottom tenth of their classes, compared with 5
percent of white students. 'Evidence suggests that when you're doing that badly, you're
learning less than if you were in the middle of a class' at a less-prestigious law school,
Mr. Sander says.
||Among students who entered law school in 1991, about 80 percent of white
students graduated and passed the bar on their first attempt, compared with just 45
percent of black students. In a race-blind admissions system, the number of black
graduates passing the bar the first time would jump to 74 percent, [Sander] says, based on
his statistical analysis of how higher grades in less competitive schools would result in
higher bar scores. Black students are nearly six times as likely as whites not to pass
state bar exams after multiple attempts.
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Law-school racial disparities -- Modesto Bee via Scripps Howard News Service Nov.
12, 2004 by Linda Seebach
"Law schools are among the most assiduous users and defenders of racial preferences
in admissions. The people who run them evidently believe both that it is a desirable goal
to increase the number of African-Americans and other minorities who become lawyers and
that the goal cannot be reached in any other way.
"So you can imagine the dismay caused by a study arguing that the net effect of
preferences is to reduce the number of African-Americans who successfully pass the bar and
lowers their income as well. The author is UCLA law professor Richard Sander, and a draft
of his article is available at www1.law.ucla.edu/~sander/. The article is to be published
in the Stanford Law Review.
"... I'll outline Sander's argument for you, but [the arguments of his critics are]
particularly interesting, because [Sander's] arguments could be taken wholesale from the
anti-preference side. It's almost as if [his critics] were so desperate to discredit
Sander's results that they forgot these are exactly the arguments they've been trying so
long and so hard to deny.
"The performance of African-American students on the Law School Admission Test is
very much weaker than that of white students. The reason is in dispute, but the
regrettable fact is not. So in order to have as many black students as they think
suitable, law schools admit black students with substantially lower undergraduate grades
and LSAT scores than whites. The most elite schools admit students who would be
competitive at a second-tier school, which then has to admit students who aren't
competitive with its white applicants, and so forth.
"The result of this mismatch is that black law students get very low grades - the
median black student gets first-year grades at about the 7th or 8th percentile. Students
who get low grades, whatever their race, are more likely to drop out, and if they do
graduate, are less likely to pass the bar exam.
"... Sander's conclusion is that, in the absence of preferences, the number of
African-Americans passing the bar would rise by almost 9 percent.
"That sounds entirely too sunny to me, but I think he's made a reasonable case that
the effects of a truly race-neutral admissions policy would not be catastrophic.
"... The Bar Passage Study conducted by the Law School Admission Council for students
starting law school in 1991 found that 19.2 percent of black students failed to complete
their studies within six years, compared with 8.2 percent of white students. Among
students who took the bar exam up to five times, all but 3.3 percent of white students
eventually passed it, but 22.4 percent of black students never did.
"Sander believes that those disparities would shrink substantially if students were
better matched to their schools, and the critique authors think the effect, if any, would
be small and possibly negative. But couldn't everyone agree that the current situation is
calamitous, and start to look seriously about what could be done to ameliorate it?
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Affirmative action reaction -- Washington Times editorial page, Saturday Nov.
13, 2004 by Linda Chavez, Center for Equal Opportunity
"For more than three decades, supporters of affirmative action have argued racial
preferences in higher education were absolutely vital if blacks and other minorities were
to obtain college and professional degrees.
| "In July 2003,
the U.S. Supreme Court seemed to agree, at least with respect to University of Michigan
law school admissions. Writing for the majority in Grutter vs. Bollinger, Justice
Sandra Day O'Connor said, 'In order to cultivate a set of leaders with legitimacy in the
eyes of the citizenry, it is necessary that the path to leadership be visibly open to
talented and qualified members of every race and ethnicity,' approving the use of explicit
racial preferences to do so. 'We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial
preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today,' she wrote
in the 5-to-4 decision.
"A new study, however, debunks the myth that those preferences are necessary even
now, providing stunning evidence affirmative action may actually hurt the chances of
blacks to obtain law degrees.
"Richard H. Sander, a law professor at University of California-Los Angeles, a
self-described Democrat and a lifelong affirmative-action supporter, has recently
completed the most comprehensive look ever at affirmative action's effect on academic
achievement of black law students. The study appears in the November issue of Stanford Law
"Looking at the performance of black and other students at 21 law schools in the
mid-1990s, Mr. Sander notes in the introduction to his study, "There has never been a
comprehensive attempt to assess the relative costs and benefits of racial preferences in
any field of higher education."
"Mr. Sander focuses on what he describes as the "costs" and
"benefits" of affirmative action to blacks. He is less concerned about the harm
such programs may do to better-qualified white and Asian students passed over in the
admissions process than about what happens to the less-qualified black students admitted
in their place. He argues his data demonstrate blacks are harmed by the very programs
aimed at helping them.
"Most black applicants, he writes, 'end up at schools where they will struggle
academically and fail at higher rates than they would in the absence of preferences....
Perhaps, most remarkably, a strong case can be made that in the legal education system as
a whole, racial preferences end up producing fewer black lawyers each year than would be
produced by a race-blind system.'
"Among first-year law students, Mr. Sander reports, 52 percent of blacks' grades put
them in the lowest 10 percent of their class. Only 8 percent of blacks earn grades in the
top half of their class. And their performance does not improve with time.
"About 19 percent of black students in this study dropped out without completing law
school, compared with 8 percent of white students. Of those who completed law school,
however, about half continued at the bottom 10 percent of their class. Consequently, only
about 45 percent of black law school graduates pass their bar exams on their first
attempt, compared with about 80 percent of white graduates.
"Mr. Sander estimates that if black students were admitted through a race-blind
process, so their skills were properly matched to the schools' own admissions criteria,
far more black students would do well, graduate and pass the bar. He estimates ending
racial preferences could produce nearly 10 percent more black lawyers.
"My Center for Equal Opportunity has published studies of 57 public colleges and
universities and nine professional schools revealing the extent of racial preferences,
which are both wide and deep. These affect not only the most elite schools but even less
competitive colleges and provide a very substantial admissions advantage to blacks and, to
a somewhat lesser extent, Latinos.
"We have shown that, judging from their tests scores and grade-point averages, black
students in particular are often admitted to schools for which they are poorly prepared,
and from which we've reported they are less likely to graduate. But we've seldom had
access to data to show how they performed in school. Mr. Sander has now provided that data
-- and the picture it paints is gloomy indeed.
"Racial preferences not only harm whites and Asians passed over for admissions to
colleges and professional schools in favor of less qualified blacks and Latinos, they do
real harm to the very students they were intended to help."
Last known link: