Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Do Colleges Discriminate Against Poor Whites?

Time, inc.
Wednesday, Jul. 28, 2010

Sociologist Thomas Espenshade got an unexpected bout of publicity last week when a New York Times columnist used a study he published in October, a 500-page tome on college-admissions practices at eight elite schools, to argue that working-class whites — as well as whites in rural areas — get the short end of the stick. As columnist Ross Douthat sparked a viral rebirth of the affirmative-action debate, Espenshade was quick to point out that the newspaper article had overreached with the data. He talked to TIME's Katy Steinmetz about his 2009 work, No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal, and detailed what this decade-long admissions investigation did and did not uncover. (See TIME's special report on paying for college.)
Douthat cited your study to say that the gatekeepers of elite education seem inclined to exclude the poor of red-state America. You say those findings go beyond your study. How? What I think he did was take a relatively minor finding and push an interpretation that goes beyond the bounds of available evidence. We have this finding that if students held leadership positions or won awards in career-oriented extracurricular activities when they were in high school, there was a slightly negative impact on their chances of being admitted to one of these top private schools. (Comment on this story.)

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