Yesterday's announcement (2/21/12) of the Supreme Court's agreement to hear a major affirmative action case brings this controversial initiative to the top of the nation's education policy agenda once again. See "Justices Take Up Race as a Factor in College Entry" (NY Times, 2/21/12), "U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Texas Affirmative Action Case" (Diverse Issues, 2/22), "Counting Justices" (Inside Higher Education, 2/22/12), and "Supreme Court Takes Up Challenge to Race-Conscious Admissions at U. of Texas", (Chronicle, 2/21/12).
Declining Market Share
Relentless financial pressure from the continuing Great Recession ensures continuation of the long-term decline in the percentage of black American students who attend HBCUs. Within a few years the HBCU share will drop below 10 percent. So I return, once again, to the question that I have addressed a few times before on this blog: "Why are HBCUs still needed?"
Not all affirmative action programs are the same, nor should they be. Unfortunately, when affirmative action programs are discussed in the media, in policy forums, and even in scholarly publications, the significant differences among these programs are often denied and/or glossed over. As a first step, I suggest that it's useful to distinguish between programs that are based on diversity strategies vs. those based on compensatory strategies.