Hutchison: Affirmative Action for Kindergartners

As the Supreme Court prepares to hear an important case, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Professor Harry Hutchison considers whether the question of affirmative action in university admissions is "a panacea for failing public schools."

"Rather than addressing the deficiencies of schools that place the lives of thousands at risk and contribute to rising income inequality, it appears that the future of disadvantaged students as a whole, and the present concerns of parents, remain buried from view," observes Hutchison.

"Given this state of affairs and driven to achieve a distinctly different future, one that bears little resemblance to the past, African-Americans, Latinos and indeed all Americans must, without malice or bitterness, pursue an enduring form of jurisprudence that places the education of the disadvantaged among us at the center of our focus while condemning the nation's disproportionate focus on elite education to history's dustbin," Hutchison concludes.

"Although the debate over racial preferences at elite public universities may be important as a constitutional matter, it is time to pursue affirmative action for kindergartners," he says.

Affirmative action for kindergartners, The Detroit News, September 26, 2013. By Harry Hutchison.

"As researchers at Johns Hopkins University have shown, Detroit high schools are part of a universe of 2,000 highly deficient secondary schools in the country that serve large numbers of minority students.

"In fact, 38 percent of all African-American students and 33 percent of all Latino students in the country attend these dropout factories. These schools produce 81 percent of all Native American dropouts, 73 percent of all African-American dropouts and 66 percent of all Hispanic dropouts.

"Predictably, America's failure to solve the problem of underperforming elementary and secondary schools means that hundreds of thousands of minority students, who could meet color-blind admission standards at elite schools, are not even in the ball game."