Sunday, August 11, 2013

Fighting Dirty to Save Affirmative Action

The higher education community breathed a deep sigh of relief in June when the Supreme Court declined to strike down affirmative action in college admissions in Fisher v. University of Texas. The near-unanimous Court (7-1, with Justice Kagan recused) recalibrated and restricted the manner by which schools can consider race without disturbing the precedent that allows the narrow use of racial preferences in order to ensure campus “diversity.”

But that relief should be temporary because the University of Texas will be hard-pressed to meet the new, more demanding standards. The Supreme Court underlined that public institutions must overcome a high constitutional bar, “strict scrutiny” in legal terms, when they use race, which requires “a careful judicial inquiry into whether a university could achieve sufficient diversity without using racial classifications.”

“The university must prove,” Justice Kennedy wrote for the Court, “that the means chosen by the university to attain diversity are narrowly tailored.”

The Supreme Court thus voided the pro-UT ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for being too deferential to the university. Regardless of administrators’ experience in crafting admissions policies, courts, in this case, the Fifth Circuit, must determine whether the use of race really is necessary to achieve the educational benefits of diversity.

The University of Texas itself has proven that it’s not, given that its Top-Ten Percent Plan — by which the top 10% (since changed to eight) of graduates in every high school in the state are guaranteed admission — had already created a campus with some of the highest “diversity” in nation. And UT’s addition of racial preferences to that race-neutral policy, far from being narrowly tailored, is arbitrary. For example, UT justifies preferences to Hispanics by pointing to the need for a “critical mass” of such students, even as it denies preferences to Asians, who comprise a smaller part of the student body.

Apparently recognizing the weakness of its position, the university has different ideas on how to fulfill the Supreme Court’s order sending the case back to the Fifth Circuit. Instead of briefing the court of appeals on how its racial preferences can survive strict scrutiny, UT’s lawyers have asked that the case be sent back to the original district court in Austin. They want to relitigate pointless issues such as Abigail Fisher’s standing to continue with her lawsuit and her damages claim.

These procedural points have already been raised and lost by UT, both at the Fifth Circuit and before the Supreme Court, which received extensive briefing and oral argument on both standing and damages but still declined to dismiss Fisher’s case. One of the most basic principles of legal process is that a party can’t argue the same issue again and again to the same court in hopes of reaching a different answer.

Moreover, the Supreme Court’s remand order couldn’t be clearer. The justices ruled that “the Court of Appeals must assess whether the University has offered sufficient evidence that would prove that its admissions programs is narrowly tailored to achieve the educational benefit of diversity” and emphasized that this “is a question for the Court of Appeals in the first instance.” Again, according to the basic operation of our legal system, there’s no wiggle room.

There can be no explanation for the university’s actions but that it’s resorting to dubious legal filings in order to put off the day of reckoning. If it’s somehow successful at this dodge, hundreds of Texas high school students over the next few years will be unfairly and unconstitutionally denied admission simply because they’re the wrong race or ethnicity.

UT’s prevarications come at a substantial cost, not only to those rejected students, but also to the taxpayers picking up the tab. Just last week, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott informed the Fifth Circuit that his office was withdrawing from the case, so all further work defending the university will be conducted by an expensive Washington law firm.

There’s an important lesson here: History teaches that evasive tactics by individual actors can persuade judges that the difficulty of weeding out unconstitutional admissions programs on a case-by-case basis outweighs any marginal benefit of racial preferences.

It’s a lesson that UT may need to relearn the hard way. The educational establishment may rue the day it again decided to pursue massive resistance to a Supreme Court ruling on civil rights.


More than 14,000 high-achievers turned down by Oxbridge as competition for places has increased

More than 14,000 students who are predicted to get top grades at A-Level have been turned down by Oxford and Cambridge this year as competition for places has increased.

The universities are having to reject more than expected after hundreds of extra students applied to study there from September.

Cambridge has received 16,145 applications - 450 more than last year but will only make offers to 4,138 of those.

Oxford is still calculating its figures for 2013, but said it will be similar or slightly higher than the 17,241 from last year, where 3.233 had acceptances.

Nearly all people from the UK who apply for Oxbridge will be predicted to get at least three A's at A-Level.

'The university seeks the ablest and best-qualified students with the greatest potential from every background and every part of the UK,' a spokesman for Cambridge University told the Independent.

'Admissions decisions are based on students’ ability, commitment and their potential to achieve.  The success rate of suitably qualified applicants is broadly the same regardless of where in the UK they are from.

'Our outreach goal is to ensure that any student with the ability, passion and commitment to apply to Cambridge has a clear picture of what the university can offer them and receives all the support necessary for them to best demonstrate their potential.'

Figures show that applications to all Britain universities are up overall.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) said in June there were 637,500 applications, up from 618,250 a year earlier.

Universities are charging up to £9,000 a year in fees and up to £35,000 for foreign students.

But poor teenagers are still almost half as likely to go to university than richer classmates, official figures suggest.

Around a fifth of 15-year-olds receiving free school meals (FSM) - a key measure of poverty - went on to higher education in 2010/11, compared with more than a third of those not getting the dinners, according to statistics published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

The data also shows that privately educated youngsters are more likely to study for a degree, and to go to the most selective universities, than state school peers.

It comes amid continuing efforts to encourage more poorer teenagers to consider going into higher education, and increasing investment by universities in the area.

The latest figures show that 20 per cent of pupils who were receiving free dinners at age 15 were in higher education by the time they were 19, compared with 38 per cent of non-FSM students - an 18 per cent gap.

The numbers of FSM pupils going to university has risen - in 2005/06 13 per cent went on to study for a degree compared with 33 per cent of other pupils - a 19 per cent gap.

Universities are planning to spend more than £700 million in 2017/18 on recruiting poorer students and those less likely to apply - an increase of more than £100 million from 2012/13, a BIS spokeswoman said.


Poll: Parents Think Schools With Armed Guards Are Safer

Shortly after the Sandy Hook tragedy, the National Rifle Association suggested putting armed guards in America's schools in order to protect our children from deranged killers. They weren't the first to suggest this idea. Former President Bill Clinton started putting armed guards into schools back in the 1990s and many schools today have police officers on duty. Regardless, the NRA was mocked and ridiculed by the Left and the anti-gun crowd for their suggestion.

Since December, many school districts have taken safety measures into their own hands. Most recently, we saw teachers at an Arkansas school getting extensive concealed carry and emergency situation training. Nearly $50,000 was set aside to purchase handguns for qualified teachers, but the state's Democratic Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, put a hold on efforts to keep kids safe and wrote in a legal memo that districts do not have the ability to train teachers as armed security guards.

Arkansas school districts can't use a little-known state law to employ teachers and staff as guards who can carry guns on campus, the state's attorney general said Thursday in an opinion that likely ends a district's plan to arm more than 20 employees when school starts later this year.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, a Democrat, wrote in a legal opinion issued by his office that a state board that licenses private security agencies didn't have the authority to allow districts to employ their teachers and staff as security guards. A state lawmaker requested the opinion a day after The Associated Press reported on a plan by the Clarksville School District in western Arkansas to use more than 20 teachers and staff as volunteer security guards armed with concealed 9 mm handguns.

"Simply put, the code in my opinion does not authorize either licensing a school district as a guard company or classifying it as a private business authorized to employ its own teachers as armed guards," McDaniel wrote.

But a new poll from Rasmussen Reports shows a majority of parents would feel safer if their kids went to a school with an armed guard.

Most Americans with school-age children continue to say they would feel safer if their child attended a school with an armed guard and think the decision to put armed guards in the schools should be made by local government officials.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 62% of Americans with children of elementary or secondary school age would feel safer if their child attended a school with an armed security guard. Just 24% say they would feel safer if their child went to a school where no adults were allowed to own a gun. Fifteen percent (15%) are not sure.
Utah has allowed teachers to carry concealed weapons in schools for more than a decade and has never had a mass shooting.

Independence Institute scholar and University of Denver law school professor David Kopel told the Senate Judiciary Committee today that the only way to immediately stop the next copy cat killer in a school is to allow trained teachers to carry guns.

Kopel praised the state of Utah because it allows teachers, in particular, to carry concealed guns if they pass a background check and undergo training.

He said the gun prohibition lobby has created scare tactics around this, but Utah’s policy — in place for several years — is proof that it works.

“Quite notably, we’ve never had an attack at a Utah school,” Kopel told the committee, which held the gun violence hearing just a week after an assault-weapons ban was introduced in the U.S. Senate. “If we want to save lives, armed defense in the schools is the immediate and best choice.”


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