Sunday, December 13, 2009

10 years after its implementation, One Florida defies its critics

Miami Herald article "10 years after its implementation, One Florida defies its critics" (November 13th, 2009) may be correct in its noting that the critics of ending affirmative action were wrong, it fails to provide adequate evidence.

A decade after Gov. Jeb Bush announced his controversial plan to end race-based university admissions, the number of minority students statewide has risen, according to a Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times review of enrollment figures.

`That certainly flies in the face of those who were predicting Armageddon all those years ago,' said universities chancellor Frank Brogan.

However, as the article notes, the number of minorities in Florida has also risen. It is unclear from the article if the ratio of the proportion of minorities in college to minorities in state and the proportion of whites in college to whites in state has similarly risen.

Additionally, the article notes that there has been an increase at some colleges but not in others. An increase at minorities at poorer schools with a decrease in minorities at better schools would be relevant.

Finally, we should note that the report fails to have any attempt at a proper counterfactual. If college minority representation around the country went up 25%, while at Florida it only rose by 15%, then it is possible that ending affirmative action was indeed a catastrophe.

The Herald's failure to report the ratio of minority proportion in college against minority proportion in state, the total quality units of minority education (rather total units), and a proper counterfactual gives it little latitude to conclude the ending of affirmative action did not drastically harm minorities. They do, perhaps, have latitude to condemn critics of ending affirmative action if their predictions were off-base.

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