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Affirmative Action in Higher Education: A Dilemma of Conflicting Principles

by John H. Bunzelvia Analysis
Wednesday, July 1, 1998

As a university president in the 1970s (San Jose State) and then as a researcher and writer, Bunzel's long involvement with affirmative action in higher education has led him to conclude that the troubling issues of race and equality cannot be reduced to the easy categories of "right" versus "wrong." He objects to such moral absolutism (also reflected in California's Proposition 209) because it denies legitimacy to the inevitable complexities and nuances inherent in what he regards as a many-sided problem. Affirmative action in college admissions, he argues, must ultimately be viewed in relation to other competing principles and in light of many practical problems.

In trying to balance different claims and interests within a "theory of limits," Bunzel believes a more useful way to think about affirmative action is in terms of a "social contribution theory of universities." Thus he asks (among other questions), "Is some degree of race consciousness never defensible?" He does not think there is only one morally correct answer. Acknowledging that race has too often been considered excessively and sub rosa, he rejects both of the ideologically pure extremes--namely, that anything that overcomes the disadvantages of race is acceptable and that taking race into account is never appropriate under any circumstances.

A Nation Still at Risk

by William J. Bennett, Willard Fair, Chester E. Finn Jr., Rev. Floyd H. Flake, E. Donald Hirsch Jr., Will Marshall, Diane Ravitchvia Policy Review
Wednesday, July 1, 1998

Fifteen years after A Nation at Risk galvanized the education reform movement, little has changed.

State of the States

by Steven Haywardvia Policy Review
Wednesday, July 1, 1998

State of the states: taxpayers reject stadium swindles; Boston-based charter school offers a lifetime warranty; spanking in the heartland, spoiling on the coasts

Correspondence

via Policy Review
Wednesday, July 1, 1998

Death with real dignity; standards: the latest fad

Home Front

by Norval Glennvia Policy Review
Friday, May 1, 1998

Think welfare policy undermined the family? Try reading a few college textbooks

Blocking the Exits

by Clint Bolickvia Policy Review
Friday, May 1, 1998

Libertarian opposition to school vouchers is an attack on freedom

Learn While You Earn

by John Hoodvia Policy Review
Friday, May 1, 1998

Education savings accounts offer Congress a chance to advance tax reform, help families, and counter Clintonian politics

No Strings Attached

by Jonathan Moorevia Policy Review
Friday, May 1, 1998

A private college spurns federal aid to save its academic freedom

Why One Plus One Equals Billions

by Peter Brimelowvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, April 30, 1998

The education lobby argues that, if we flood public schools with money, the performance of our students will improve. Will it? Hoover media fellow Peter Brimelow looks at the evidence—and discovers that the educators have their math wrong.

Reengineering College Student Financial Aid

via Analysis
Wednesday, April 1, 1998

Our society continues to assign considerable value to higher education and, for the most part, desires to have it in the reach of deserving students. Differences arise, however, over the definition of deserving and who should pay for that education. When limited financial resources are available from government as well as from the private sector, student financial aid resources must be used efficiently. The congressional elections of 1994 and 1996 seem to indicate that the majority of the electorate desires to downsize big government, with its bureaucracy and red tape, and to bring decisions on policy and resource utilization closer to the affected populations and the taxpayers who must finance them.

The model presented in this essay seeks to assign to the three sources of student financial aid--the federal government, state governments, and the institutional and private sector--responsibility for helping to fund specific college costs that students and their parents cannot pay. The roles stipulated in the model for federal and state government adhere to the provisions of the United States Constitution. More than $50 billion is awarded each year in student financial aid; $35 billion of that comes from the federal treasury so federal programs receive particular attention.

Reducing the multiplicity of federal student aid programs will certainly be challenged by those who fear that their largesse from Washington will diminish. Resistance to the changes proposed in this essay can be expected, including the argument that these programs have worked well over time and simply need more funding to make them even better. This essay presents what it is hoped are compelling reasons for reengineering all student financial aid now. The changes will bring about greater effectiveness, efficiency, and equity.

Pages

K-12 Education Task Force

 
The K–12 Education Task Force focuses on education policy as it relates to government provision and oversight versus private solutions (both within and outside the public school system) that stress choice, accountability, and transparency.

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