Published On: Sun, Oct 15th, 2017

UCLA’s Richard Sander: Affirmative Action created the unexpected problem of ‘mismatch’ hurting more than it helped

UCLA law professor Richard Sander made headlines for his remarks during a speech at a meeting of the Bruin Republicans on Wednesday arguing that affirmative action creates the unexpected problem of “mismatch,” a data-backed critique of the preference program.

The mismatch hypothesis, as explained by Professor Sander, is “that students will learn less when they are surrounded by students who had scores 10 points higher than them than if they were surrounded by students who had similar scores.”

In other words, when students with lower credentials than their peers are accepted into more challenging universities they can suffer academically as a result.

Sander made it very clear in his talk that mismatch is not just about race, but can also be about legacy status, people attending on athletic scholarship, or any student who was chosen for the school based on a preference rather than test scores.

Sander said he believes his theory can explain why so many minority students, particularly African-American and Latino students, drop out of school.

“Because they were given preference, they are not learning as fast as their peers, so they become discouraged with education and decide to flunk out,” Sander said.

Sander said when he uses the term “affirmative action,” he refers to the large admissions preferences made in each wave of college admissions, not in the overall idea of affirmative action.

Sander is co-author of the 2012 book “Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It.” The mismatch theory was cited by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in 2015 during oral arguments in the Supreme Court’s second hearing of the famous affirmative action case of Fisher v. University of Texas.

Sander, in his talk, cited several different research studies to affirm the mismatch theory, including his own 2004 study, “A Systematic Analysis of Affirmative Action.”

The professor explained that academia tends to sweep this information under the rug or try to discredit it: “Michael Schill (the former dean of the UCLA Law School) told me privately that he thought it was a breakthrough study,” Sander said. But after it was published, Sander said that Schill sent an email to the student body suggesting “there are those of us who seriously question the credibility of this research.”

photo Tulane University Public Relations via wikimedia commons

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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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