EdFix Bonus Episode 35: The End of Affirmative Action in Admissions? Experts Explore the Implications for Higher Education
... If, and more likely when, the Supreme Court does end the use of racial diversity as a compelling interest, we're all going to need to work even harder to figure out how to ensure that these diverse voices are in our nation's classrooms.
MICHAEL J. FEUER:
Welcome to a special episode of EdFix, your source for insights and information about the promise and practice of education. I'm Michael Feuer, I'm the Dean of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at George Washington University. Today we have a special episode in store with two special guests, colleagues whom I've known for some time, both of whom are experts in the topic that we're going to be discussing, which is about the current and future status of race-based preferences in higher education. I'm very delighted to introduce Rick Kahlenberg. Anyone who follows the literature on affirmative action generally, and on social and economic and educational inequality, and in particular issues related to preferences in admission. And so Rick Kahlenberg, who is a graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Law School, has held positions in a number of very distinguished foundations and think tanks, and is a prolific writer. I'm not sure how many books exactly Rick has written, but it's up there in the teens, and we are very honored to have you on EdFix with us.
Our other guest is another wonderful colleague and friend, Amy Berman. Coincidentally, Amy also is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and comes to this work through a lot of practical experience in the world of law as it relates to education and civil rights, and the improvement of opportunity for American students. Amy spent a number of years in the Office for Civil Rights doing compliance work and is currently the deputy executive director of the National Academy of Education, which is a group of people probably among the most preeminent scholars of American education, including people who work in policy. And Amy was the principal architect of the National Academy of Education's Amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the current cases involving Harvard and the University of North Carolina.
So we're in for a really interesting conversation. Not exactly a debate, although I do expect that there will be some argument here, and that's for the good. I'm going to start then, if I might, by asking Amy Berman to kick off with essentially some of your thoughts and some of the basic ideas and the parameters that went into the Amicus brief and your sense of where we are in this topic. Amy will give us 10 or 15 minutes. We will then turn to Rick. They will have some chance to schmooze among themselves and with me prompting them. And then we're going to have room for our students in this class who are with us today, along with members of the university leadership and faculty to join the conversation if they so wish. Amy Berman.
Thank you so much. It's a pleasure to be here. I do want to say that my presentation goes beyond the brief and addresses other issues that I think are important. We limited our brief to particular issues to make it not repetitive of what other people were writing. So let me just start off at the outset with a couple of points. First of all, I want to make it clear that I don't think it should be either race conscious or socioeconomic diversity, but that we need both in school, in our universities and colleges. I also think that in its current form, the race conscious admissions policies that are being challenged at Harvard and UNC are constitutionally legal. Could they be tweaked? Probably, but I think that they withstand the test that the Supreme Court has established.
I do think though that the Supreme Court will reverse course, but I don't think that they're going to do this on a basis of the failure of Harvard or UNC to meet the established legal challenge, the legal standard. Instead, I think they are going to redefine the test, and I think that they're going to say that racial diversity is no longer a compelling interest. Then we are all going to really need to look at race neutral methods, but we need to understand that this will not achieve the level of racial diversity sought for a variety of reasons.
So why is race important? Race is important because it's a social construct that has become the fabric of our nation. We have created racial distinctions so that we can classify people, discriminate against people, and pit racial groups against each other. In doing so, we have a long history of discriminating against Black, LatinX, and indigenous peoples. This slide cannot do history justice, but I do try to pull out some highlights. Of course, slavery and attacks on indigenous people are what allowed for the founding of the US. Here, I show through federal legislation and early Supreme Court cases how we have really done very little to help address these issues. First, during our founding years and in some cases up to the present day, we have a long history in state and federal statues of providing land, providing funding and providing rights to those based on race.
We've been doing white affirmative action for hundreds of years, and we've been incredibly clear when we've written these statutes, to say that these land grants are for white people, or they are for people with not a drop of Black or indigenous blood. We have laws dating back... And there are laws still on the books, I think in Virginia, that talked about land grants, and they made the exception for Pocahontas' husband so that his descendants could inherit land whereas other indigenous persons could not.
And then we come up with the Equal Protection Clause in 1868, and it's not clear. I write on here what it says. It doesn't come right out and say "everyone's equal." It doesn't come right out and say "everybody has equal rights." It talks about those equal protections under the laws. So we have a history of knowing how to write statutes that provide affirmative action for people and that provide racial preferences, and provide racial rights based on race. But we don't do that here. And in fact, it's not until a couple of years later that Black men even get the opportunity to vote. And it's not until 1920, as we all know, that women and Black women are given that.
There was also, I only list here, besides the Plessy V. Ferguson one, the ones that are in the education context, but there was a lot of opportunity to sort of address separate but equal. But the courts kept holding onto the separate but equal, particularly in the higher education context. The only times that they actually addressed it were in some of these cases where a state would set up... Oklahoma created a separate law school for one woman to be a student in, to not have to allow her to attend their white flagship. There the court actually said, "this is not equal." That woman though sat behind a barrier, was not allowed to eat in the lunchroom, was not allowed to use the same facilities. So these are just some examples that you can go and look at a different point in time.
And at the same time this is going on, on the other side we have the obviously race-based Jim Crow laws, the legally and publicly sanctioning of lynchings. We are seeing the passing of race neutral laws that horrifically disenfranchise Black, LatinX, and indigenous people. We saw the labor laws of the new deal that created a framework to protect tens of millions of workers. It provided minimum wages, it provided minimum hours, it provided the right to join unions, but it excluded all domestic and land workers, right? The vast majority of whom were Black. We saw a GI bill that looked race neutral but was completely implemented in a way to benefit whites.
In 1947, Mississippi gave out 3,229 GI Bill guaranteed home business and farm loans. Two of them were offered to Black veterans. The Federal Housing Administration was created in 1934. It forbade giving housing loans to Blacks. I don't even need to get into the redlining, the subprime mortgages where brokers were literally going into Black neighborhoods in the last 10 to 20 years and targeting Blacks to provide subprime loans when the majority of them actually qualified for prime loans. We saw the continuation of this with the war on drug, the criminalization of Black people. And now we're seeing this continue. We are seeing bans on critical race theory, divisive concepts, all because we continue to permit discrimination based on race. And what has this led to? This has led to people of color being disproportionately placed in racially isolated and under-resourced K to 12 schools.
And for those that are not, they might be attending other schools, but they are attending them with the racial trauma that comes from both the history and the continued systemic racism that we're seeing today. So this is why I continue to think that race matters and racial diversity is important, is critical, and is compelling as to what is the court's standard. And I think that we need to continue to consider race for our societal understandings, for civic engagement, and for other purposes of the benefits of race, which I'm sure you all discussed, and which are on some of my next slides. So this is why I think colleges should be able to consider the race of an applicant absent their socioeconomic status when making admissions decisions, because this diversity is necessary for our educational institutions to succeed in preparing our next generation.
I don't think we can talk about race conscious admissions in higher ed without that whole backdrop, but this is the backdrop for higher education. So there are five cases that have come out. Well, there's really four cases that have come out. The fifth one is about to come out. I'm not going to run through all of these cases specifically, but I am going to go to the next slide which just gives you the highlights of what the standard is.
Okay, so strict scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause and Title VI has adapted the same strict scrutiny standard as the Equal Protection Clause. Has two prongs, right? The first, does a program further a compelling governmental interest? And second, is it narrowly tailored to achieve that interest? So originally, when you looked at the first prong, the compelling government interest, there was an interest in remedying societal wrongs and societal discrimination. That interest has very been limited to de jure discrimination and not de facto discrimination. The one that has been upheld in the higher ed context going forward is the compelling interest of the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body, including racial diversity. So that's the first prong, the compelling interest. And as I said earlier, I actually think that that's the prong that the Supreme Court is going to attack.
The second prong, which is isn't narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling interest, these are the four parts that courts tend to look at and that the lower courts in the Harvard case and the UNC case looked at and determined that, after looking at these, they had met that it was a narrowly tailored program. So they looked to see if there were workable race neutral alternatives and the court said "no." They looked to see if it was flexible and individualized, and the court said "yes, it is flexible and it is individualized." And so that comes into play when you think of some of those other cases. So the Bakke case, which was a medical school case, they were doing racial set-asides. The court said, "we can't have set-asides, that's not flexible." The University of Michigan undergrad case, which is the Gratz case, were giving so many actual points for persons race that the court said that that was essentially a set-aside or a quota system.
The third prong is whether it unduly burdens students of any racial group, and then whether the universities continue to look to see if they need to continue to utilize race. So the next slide runs through the educational benefits of student body and racial diversity. I cite here to several briefs, one of which I actually believe Professor Wright is a signatory to. And this just is really summarizing for you the educational benefits of student body diversity. I don't really think that there's much dispute about these. We can definitely come back to them at some other point if you want to talk about them. But really this notion of cross-racial understanding and reducing prejudice, it actually leads to improved academic performance in schools, and it really promotes civic engagement.
It's also important to note the harms that are listed there, the tokenism, loneliness, stereotype, threats. And it has been proven to undermine academic achievement. This slide summarizes, in one slide, what the brief that we submitted based on the National Academy of Education focused on in the Grutter case, which is the University of Michigan Law School case. Sandra Day O'Connor, who wrote the opinion there said, "we expect that 25 years from now the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today."
We spent a good amount of time in our brief explaining how, sadly, the context that Justice O'Connor thought would be better to make this interest no longer necessary has actually worsened. So the context in all of these cases of the compelling interest is very critical. And like I said, we spent time in our brief talking about how school segregation in the K to 12 context has actually deepened since the Grutter decision, that schools that enroll 90 to 100% non-white students has more than tripled since 1988, going from less than 6% to over 18%, that 40% of Black students attend a school where there are more than 90% non-white students.
We talked about how the average Black student is attending a school that is 69% low income, and that's increased 26% since 1896. So why does this matter? Desegregation has been linked to significantly higher educational attainment, greater college attendance and completion rates. It's also been linked to a 30% increase in annual earnings. The most important admissions criteria that colleges and universities consider is prior academic achievement, and most notably, a student's academic grade point average and the rigor of the courses. However, we see that 56% of Black students are in schools that have a high availability of AP classes, where 83% of Asian students and 64% of white students are in those schools. This all makes it more difficult for minority students to demonstrate their academic capacity to universities.
We also see that parental education directly impacts a student's success. And while 54% of white parents and 70% of Asian parents have a bachelor's degree or higher, this is only true for 22% of the Latino parents, 27% of Black parents, and 24% of indigenous parents. So these are just some of the examples. I mean, we've all seen how COVID has exacerbated these inequities for our students of color, for students from low income, and for English language learner students, as well as for students with disabilities.
I just point out that race and socioeconomic status are both important, but they're not the same. And in addition to all of those other things that I've mentioned earlier, we're seeing more and more research about racial trauma, the cumulative effect of racism on an individual's wellbeing that impact BIPOC students' education. As students continue to understand, identify, and reckon with racial injustice, and they continue to witness police brutality, they experience stress and anxiety and fear that impacts their educational abilities. These things are important, and this is why I argue that we need to continue to use race-based considerations in admissions.
MICHAEL J. FEUER:
Last word before we-
My last word. So I go through, really quickly, some additional points showing that the overwhelming consensus of American universities is that they support the need for racial diversity. Hundreds of colleges and universities and grad schools signed on to briefs that supported the Harvard and UNC cases. Hundreds of higher education organizations did also. There are nine states which currently ban race conscious admissions policies. None of the universities, the flagship universities, the state universities in any of those cases filed briefs stating that they have achieved racial diversity through race neutral means. Two of the university systems, the University of California system, as well as the University of Michigan, filed briefs that stated... And I have several slides using their data... Stating that they've spent... The California system has said that it spent over half a billion dollars trying to implement race neutral means, and they cannot get to the levels of diversity that they were at prior to Proposition 209. And you'll see the numbers here.
And I guess I should caveat that. They have been able to, in some instances, get back to the numbers that they were at in 1995. But it's important to understand how significantly the underrepresented minorities have grown in that state. And so while you'll see the huge declines in the years after implementing Prop 209, and you will see that finally, these schools are getting back to certain levels. The percentage of LatinX students graduating in 1995 was 30%. It's now 52.3% in California. University of Michigan looks similar. You see the data there. I've provided a slide with a good number of studies that explain that eliminating race conscious admissions have consistently found negative impacts on the admissions of underrepresented minorities. I'm happy when we're talking later to go through these in more depth, but I do say that my concluding thoughts are that, looking at all of this, I think that considering race for race's sake in admissions is important, compelling, and the right thing to do. That under current-
... Compelling and the right thing to do that under current law, I think Harvard and UNCs policies should be upheld, but if, and more likely when, the Supreme Court does end the use of racial diversity as a compelling interest, we're all going to need to work even harder to figure out how to ensure that these diverse voices are in our nation's classrooms.
MICHAEL J. FEUER:
Amy, thank you so much. Lots to think about there, lots to try to digest. While we're starting to digest, we'll turn to Rick Kahlenberg for what I think will be a slightly different point of view. Rick?
Thank you so much Michael and wonderful to be with here with you and with Amy and my good friend Dwayne is here as well. So, I just want to begin by saying I agree with much of what Amy said, obviously about the terrible history of racial discrimination, racial oppression, continuing issues of race that we need to address. And I think the question soon will be, what next? How do we best attack this problem? So, I want to talk about four things. First, talk about the ways in which race and class both matter for opportunity in America today, although there's been a shift in the salience of the two factors. Secondly, to talk about what counts and admissions in elite colleges today and why elite colleges tend to emphasize certain factors. Third, to talk about the vulnerability of race-based affirmative action, both in terms of politics and in terms of the law and the Supreme Court.
And then finally, I want to turn to what's next if the US Supreme Court does, as Amy is expecting, and many of us are expecting, strike down the use of race. So, any sentient being would know that race and class both matter in America. We see it on the front pages every day and both impose unique and separate harms. The relationship between the importance of the two factors in predicting opportunity and particularly in predicting academic achievement has shifted over time. So, you'll see a slide from Sean Reardon, who's a Stanford professor, and essentially he found that 50, 60 years ago the achievement gap, which is obviously related to the opportunity gap between Black and white students used to be about twice as large as between high income and low income, those from the 90th percentile in income and the 10th percentile. The Black-white gap was twice as large as the income gap.
Today, precisely the reverse is true. The income gap between rich and poor students is twice as large as the racial gap between Black and white students. And so if you're an admissions officer trying to decide how to be fair in your program, you would want to consider an academic record in light of what obstacles a student has had to overcome. And today, the income-based obstacles, according to Reardon's research, are twice as large as the strictly racial gaps, so next question is, and next slide is, what in fact counts in admissions? How do colleges decide who gets in? I was there at the oral arguments for the Supreme Court and the University of North Carolina correctly pointed out, they look at 40 different factors and this is a complex system of admissions, no doubt about it. Having said that, certain things count a lot more than other things.
And so, we know from research that it's an opaque process. So, usually we don't know exactly what's going on, but there were 13 elite colleges who have several years ago gave their admissions data over to William Bowen, the former president of Princeton, to see what counts in admissions, and Bowen is known for his strong support for race-based affirmative action. And here's what he found. The biggest preference goes to recruited athletes. They get a 30 percentage point boost in admissions. So, what that means is that based on your academic record, you had a 25% chance of admissions. Now add 30 percentage points, you've got a 55% chance of admissions. That's the biggest preference. Second is 28 percentage point boost for underrepresented minorities. Next comes legacy, a 20 percentage point boost for legacies, which might be considered kind of class-based affirmative action in reverse, where were rewarding the students whose parents gave them all sorts of advantages in life.
Then you get down to the preferences for economically disadvantaged students, and every university in the country will say, "Well, of course we consider class and admissions." They do to a very, very limited extent, so you only get a tiny four percentage point increase if you're first generation. If you're from the bottom income quartile, it makes no difference. You get no boost whatsoever according to Bowen's data. Now Bowen's data are old. There was a 2005 study. So, what does the more recent data say? Well, in the next slide, I was an expert witness in the students for fair admissions case and my colleague Peter Arcidiacono, who's a Duke economist, looked at the data and find out what matters in admissions at Harvard and at the University of North Carolina. Again, normally we have no idea what's going on at these universities, but because there was a discovery process, Harvard and UNC had to turn over data.
And the loaded estimates, you can read this basically as the bigger the number, the bigger the preference. The recruited athlete, again, at Harvard, it's an enormous preference. Then the next biggest is for Americans, then legacy, then children of faculty, and then Hispanic. Then if you apply early action, you get a boost in admissions. Then at the very bottom you get to the economically disadvantaged students who do get some boost, but smaller than all those other boosts, and the first generation students get hardly anything at all. And of course, most controversially in the case, there was an Asian penalty. At UNC Chapel Hill, I have their data on in-state and out-of-state admissions, and this is the out-of-state admissions which are much more competitive. So, they're kind of more comparable to selective colleges nationally. The biggest boost is for African Americans, then legacy, then Hispanic, then first generation and down the line.
The big takeaway is in admissions race and these various preferences for quite economically advantaged students like faculty, children, and legacies counsel a lot more than being economically disadvantaged. Now, why would that be true? And this goes to Amy's question about why not just do both. My reading of the evidence is that so long as colleges have the ability to recruit the most advantaged students of every race, both socioeconomically advantaged, that's exactly what they will do and they won't consider socioeconomic status. And so, let's look at the three reasons why universities have a strong incentive to count race, but not to count class. The first is that racial diversity is much more visible to the naked eye than class diversity. I can look around this room and have a sense of the racial diversity. I have no idea the socioeconomic status or their socioeconomic background, so that you're more accountable on race if you're a university than you are on class.
The second is that there are fewer or organized groups that are there championing diversity based on socioeconomic status. There are lots of groups that are pushing for racial diversity and I'm glad they're there pushing for it. We need that. There are not comparable groups that are saying, "We need to champion working class people, low income people who are virtually shut out from many selective colleges." It's beginning to change a little bit, but for the most part that pressure doesn't exist. The biggest one, of course is money. It is much more expensive to employ race neutral alternatives to get racial diversity, to give a break to economically disadvantaged students, and Amy mentioned the amicus brief from the University of California. I thought the most telling line in the entire brief was when they complained that we had to devote a half a billion dollars to financial aid for students, recruiting students, going out and making sure that low income students knew of the opportunities.
These are things that as a liberal, I hope University of California would be doing. They complained about it because they'd much rather have a system where they can have the most advantaged students of all races. So, that's at the end of the day, I think what this whole debate is about. Next slide, the results is that universities have racial diversity, oftentimes not socioeconomic diversity. So at Harvard and UNC where we have lots of data, Harvard is majority minority, which I think is a beautiful thing. The majority of the students are minoritized. At the same time, they have 22 times as many rich students as low income students according to Raj Chetty's research.
Of the underrepresented minority students who are there, 71% come from the richest fifth of the Black, Hispanic, and Native American populations nationally. And so if you have first generation students incredibly underrepresented, if Harvard had the underrepresentation of Black students, as it has of first generation students, you'd only have a 2% Black population. UNC, we can say Harvard is Harvard, what about UNC? It's a public university, calls itself the people's university. It has 16 times as many wealthy students as low income students.
So third point, the challenges that race-based affirmative action is facing. Amy already talked about the Supreme Court challenge, and I think we don't need to go into much more detail there. It's likely that race-based affirmative action will not survive the decision in Harvard and UNC, but on top of that, there's very weak political support for race-based de affirmative action. And if you're an admissions officer and you think you're doing the right thing, I can understand that. I agree, racial diversity is really important. We need to address our history of racial discrimination in this country, but it ought to give people pause when 73% of the public says they don't want race counted in who gets in. Now, admissions officers may say, "Well, they're wrongheaded," but in a democracy it ought to be something to consider that these policies are so unpopular.
This is a research from the Pew Research Center, not a particularly right ring group, and they find that very small numbers of Americans support the use of race and admissions as even a minor factor. Now, I testified in the case as an expert and I testified that racial diversity is very important and if universities used class and couldn't get racial diversity, then I would support the use of race. So, I'm part of the small minority that would support the use of race under certain circumstances, but that's not where the public is and that is something we have to grapple with. Last point, what will happen if the Supreme Court does strike down the use of race? And here Amy and I have some disagreements, I think. So, we did an analysis in 2014 of what happened in 10 states where race was removed from consideration, lots of progressive things happen.
So, six states started promoting partnerships with disadvantaged high schools, eight states moved to class-based preferences, eight states expanded their financial aid budgets because it's going to be much more expensive to admit administer class-based affirmative action. In three states, there were universities that dropped legacy preferences. Some states moved to rewarding high class rank. So, some of you may know about the Texas top 10% plan, and a couple of states moved towards more use of community college transfers as a source of diversity. Now in terms of the success rates, seven out of the 10 leading universities were able to achieve as much Black and as much Hispanic representation using race neutral alternatives as they had using race, so UT Austin, Texas A&M, a number of universities were successful. There were three, the three that you tend to hear about UC Berkeley, UCLA, and University of Michigan, who as of 2012 had not met previous representation.
Well, fast-forward to 2021 more recently. The headline from the Berkeley News is one year after admitting its most diverse freshman class in 30 years, the University of California Berkeley has met or exceeded last year's success in its admissions of underrepresented minority students. UCLA, the other outlier, 34% were Black, Latino, American Indian, Pacific Islander, the largest proportion of such groups in three decades. Amy's absolutely right, there was a big drop initially in Black and Hispanic admissions, but over time they implemented a number of changes that made a difference. Well, what about socioeconomic diversity? You can see on the next slide, UT Austin has this top 10% plan and they were able to increase socioeconomic diversity using the top 10% plan, so over time it's become more competitive. These data are from 2013, so it was the top 8% plan, I think now it's the top 6% plan.
But you can see that students admitted under the percentage plan, they admit 75% through the percentage plan and 25% through discretionary admissions, that includes the use of race, much wealthier populations getting in through discretion that uses race than through the top 10% plan. The next slide looks at what happens at Harvard. If you shifted from race to class, you see white admits go down, Hispanic and Asian admissions go up and African-American admissions go down. Now, I personally am troubled by any decline in African-American admissions. So, what can we do? What can Harvard do better than in this simulation? Well, the key factor that we didn't have data on in running the simulation is wealth, and you'll see in the last slide, many of you will know that precisely because of our history of slavery, redlining racism in America, the Black-white wealth gap is much, much larger than the Black-white income gap.
And so the simulations that we had, Harvard wouldn't give us wealth data. And so if you added wealth into the equation, you could do better in terms of African American admissions than the Harvard simulation suggested. Bottom line is, I think a conservative US Supreme Court decision on race will paradoxically lead to a liberal public policy result, which is that universities, who to their credit, believe in racial diversity, will find new and better and fairer ways that actually opened the doors for the first time to meaningful numbers of working class Black, Hispanic, Asian and white students.
MICHAEL J. FEUER:
Thank you, Rick. Lots of possibilities here for where to take this conversation. I want to start with a question to both of you about the changing data on inequality that you reported on from Sean Reardon and others who have looked at this, that the Black-white achievement gap in America has declined to some extent, while the rich-poor achievement gap has to some extent exploded. If that is true, and I have the greatest respect for Sean's analysis of these data, and I think it's a very compelling finding, to what extent does the reduction in the Black-white gap suggest that efforts that have been made, even at the university level in race-based preferences, have had a desired and a positive effect? Do you follow what my question is here? To what extent have we made progress in reducing the Black-white achievement gap because of policies that have emphasized race as one criterion for if not just admissions, but for allocation of resources in pursuit of more equity or equality for that matter? Either of you want to take that one?
I think it's a really interesting question and one of the issues that came up in the Supreme Court a number of times was, when does affirmative action end? And this could be a data point that affirmative action has had some positive effect, and clearly it's had many positive effects, but it would be a little bit indirect because we're talking about K through 12 achievement levels. And so, one could make an argument that because Black students at selective colleges, that's what the affirmative action debate is about, it's about selective colleges, because more Black students a generation ago had a chance to go to selective colleges, that translated into higher test scores for their kids, and I think one could make an argument for that. We're talking about, it's important to know, fairly small numbers at these selective colleges. That certainly wouldn't be the biggest cause of the decline in the Black white achievement gap, but it could be a factor. I think that's a good point.
So, I think I would answer this to say that I totally agree with Rick's data and Sean Reardon's data here, and he's showing that the gaps are growing, but he also has really shown that the achievement gap has flatlined for Black and white children. So, there was a precipitous decline at the beginning right after Brown v. Board of Education, and according to the data since 1973 has either been flat or gone down a bit. And so, I think there's still a pretty big achievement gap and that it continues to be a problem with data.
Yes, the income gap is increasing and we're just seeing such greater income inequality and wealth inequality than we've seen in the past, and especially when you are looking at the top quintile in the bottom quintile, and I think that that is a huge issue that needs to be addressed. I think that the majority of the research and the majority of the simulations that have been done don't demonstrate that just relying on socioeconomic status is going to get you the racial diversity that we have in schools today. And so, I don't think it's an either or. I agree that I think we need to look at both.
MICHAEL J. FEUER:
Well, so that would be one potential conclusion from this part of the conversation, that to the extent that we care about, let's just say Black-white differences in American society, that we need to continue to work on that, and to the extent that we care about and should care increasingly about wealth inequality, we should attend to that and to maybe ask the question, of course not of this Supreme Court, because I don't think that's what they're going to be addressing, but suppose in an ideal world, universities could actually figure out how to make progress on both of those simultaneously. Because one way or another, this always comes down to an argument that sounds like you can't have it both ways. You either do the socioeconomic diversity emphasis or you do the racial emphasis. What's wrong with doing both?
So I think in theory, absolutely, these are distinct harms that deserve a distinct set of policies. In the affirmative action context, after the 2003 Grutter decision, which sustained-
The Grutter decision, which sustained the use of race. I did work with a number of universities to say, "Race plus class, let's make sure that universities are both racially diverse and economically diverse." And the needle did not move on class. And for the precisely the reasons I was outlining before, there are massive financial incentives to pay much more attention to race than class today. So then the question becomes can you get both racial and economic diversity once the Supreme Court rules? And I think it's very important to look at highly racialized socioeconomic factors that incorporate implicitly our history of discrimination and ongoing realities of racial discrimination. Amy, you were citing the data on school integration and I do a lot of work on school integration at the K-12 level, and I agree with you, the increasing racial segregation is deeply problematic.
And so what I mean by looking at highly racialized factors is things like whether a student comes from a neighborhood that has concentrated poverty. It turns out that poor whites in America live in the same sorts of poverty levels, neighborhoods as more affluent Black people, and that's a reflection of racial discrimination in the housing market. The key point here is that moving forward under a Supreme Court rule that says you can't use race, you can still use neighborhood poverty levels and that will have a strong racial dividend, if you will, a positive racial dividend in the sense of producing racial diversity. We saw that in the simulations in the Harvard and UNC cases that when you looked at family income, you didn't get all that much racial diversity. And Amy, some of the studies you're citing look at family income and I don't endorse that, that would be unfair to Black and Hispanic people in the aggregate.
If you look at family income and neighborhood, that increases racial diversity. If you look at school level poverty levels, that increases racial diversity further, if you look at wealth, that is another way to ensure that there are higher levels of racial diversity. And some of the few studies that do look at wealth, including one by Anthony Carnevale at Georgetown University, found that that's when you can really boost racial diversity. And I think I'm hoping to help universities in the future think about ways that they can use socioeconomic status to create economic and racial diversity on campus in a way that is not ignorant of the history of this country.
I'm a lawyer by training. I do have a degree from here in education policy. So I don't know exactly how when you use just socioeconomic diversity, you can always have these students actually attend the schools. And so I was surprised. I recently read a 2020 study by Kalena Cortes and Daniel Klasik and they looked at Texas's top 10% plan and they looked at it over the last 18 years and what they found was that the top 10% plan did not recover the racial diversity lost by Texas' affirmative action. And they found that schools with a higher proportion of free lunch eligible students were less likely to be sending students to the flagship campuses after the plan.
And so they looked at this a lot and that is school based, so that should be taking into account school-based neighborhood socioeconomic diversity. But the issue was that those kids continued to not go to the flagships and went to the neighborhood schools and even upon gaining admission. And so I wholly support socioeconomic diversity. I don't know exactly how to do it, but I do want to make sure that regardless of the socioeconomic level of underrepresented minorities, that when they are applying with an intention to go to a school that we recognize that their racial background is incredibly important and should be a factor in considering their admissions.
MICHAEL J. FEUER:
Let me pivot to part of this conversation that has to do with the public opinion data, which I find quite fascinating actually. So both of you have acknowledged that some large percentage of respondents seem to indicate that they are opposed to the use of race in admissions decisions. And I have two questions to ask you about that since I'm not really familiar with the data source.
Do we know anything about why people are opposed to race-based preferences? Is it because some of those respondents just think that all of this talk about race is irrelevant or do they think that race-based preferences are not the best way to achieve some desired visualized condition of college and university student populations? And the related question is do we have data on whether the public feels relatively better about class-based preferences or is that also something for which a lot of people in the general public have a kind of allergy to considering because they might have a view that the only thing that should really count in selective admissions is "merit" as measured by either test scores or grade point or something like that. Do we know more about... Essentially it's a short question. Can we untangle some of that public opinion data?
I have thoughts, but Amy do you-
Okay. So I think there are three things that come out of the data. The first is the one we've mentioned people don't like the use of race and admissions and it wasn't just white people. And so I think one way to interpret that is in a sense progress that if you asked in the 1920s and 1930s, if you asked white people should race count, they would say, "Damn straight. And it should count in favor of white people." So the fact that there is a consensus, a civil rights consensus, that race should not count in who gets ahead in society, I think is mostly a good thing.
So that that's point number one. Point number two, while the use of race is deeply unpopular, the concept of having racial diversity and economic diversity on campus is popular. And that's good news in the sense that that's why you saw Republican governors in places like Florida and Texas say once they couldn't use race, "We need to come up with an alternative. We need to find new ways to get diversity." Even the Republicans didn't say, "Oh, let's just give up and go with grades and test scores." So people don't like racial preferences. They do like racial diversity. Some people look at that and they say, "Well, they're trying to have their cake and eat it too." But that leads to the third point, which is class-based preferences are much more popular. So Gallup has found roughly that by two to one Americans opposed the use of race. So their finding was a little bit less dramatic than Pew's, but by two to one people support the idea of a preference for students who've overcome economic obstacles. So there is broader public support for that last alternative.
MICHAEL J. FEUER:
Do you want to get in on this, Amy?
So I agree that the Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan center and I agree with the data that... I mean, I don't agree with the opinions, but I agree with what the data shows. My recollection is, you can correct me, I don't think that Pew went deeper than asking the questions. I don't think they actually went out and interviewed people to try to get at the underlying parts of it. I think though that some of what Rick says is interesting because I think what affirmative action, especially race-based affirmative action means to people and means to people across races is somewhat problematic and reusing race-based affirmative action I don't think is talking about who gets ahead in society.
I think race-based affirmative action isn't even equaling the playing field for who gets ahead in society. It's trying to make sure that we have all the voices at the table, that our white students are also hearing from other voices. There's a lot of evidence that demonstrates that whites have better cross-racial understanding, that they're more civically engaged when they're in diverse classrooms. But I do think that there has been this very negative connotation around affirmative action and not recognizing that there are so many laws on the books. This is what we're all talking about, about systemic racism right now that are affirmative action for white people, but because they're done in a way that appears race neutral, we don't call that affirmative action, but it historically has been.
MICHAEL J. FEUER:
I want to pick up on one of your points, Rick, that in the light of what may be the Supreme Court's ruling on this, we will have an opportunity to think about admissions processes and programs that advance the ideals of diversity, certainly with respect to class, hopefully with respect to race. And you also said that would be fairer and that struck a chord because I think part of this argument is about the fairness of any kind of system that allows for preferences based on information that may not be obviously connected to academic or scholarly achievement or however you want to call it. In I believe one of the Michigan cases, now this is going back 15 or more years. There was an interesting exchange between the attorney representing the University of Michigan who said very few qualified applicants will be denied admission because of our preferential program, to which I believe it was Justice Scalia who said "Very few? How many does it take before the 14th Amendment kicks in?"
And I'm paraphrasing here a little, but for me that has remained a kind of metaphor, if you will, for this argument about fairness. And to the extent that a university wants to promote more racial diversity and acknowledges that this may have an unfair effect on some white applicants, is there some way to acknowledge that any public policy has its imperfections and that some people will be perhaps unfairly penalized? I'll put one more example here just to make this point and you'll recognize where this comes from. I think it's from The Shape of the River from the book by Bowen and Bok. But actually coincidentally, as I was looking for a spot in my parking garage this morning, I noticed that there were several vacant spots that had a big sign "Reserved for disabled drivers." And I thought to myself, "This is not fair. If only they didn't have those spots left reserved, I'd be able to park." Instead, I had to go down to the sixth level or whatever it was.
The reason that this was used in the Bok and Bowen book, and I think this is attributable to an economist who later won a Nobel Prize for other work, was to suggest that yes, because of society's decision to create special opportunities for disabled citizens, some of us were paying a price. But in fact, if you think about it, the odds of my getting one of those vacant spots, even if it wasn't reserved, would've been infinitesimally small anyway. And so the question is, to what extent does this fairness argument bump up against the statistics and the reality of how many people are actually being penalized by a plan that is attempting to promote opportunity for many others? Does any of that make sense?
I'll start. I think part of the issue is how we're defining qualified and we're defining qualified by looking at GPAs and test scores. And I think when we can realize that there are other things that make for qualified applicants and we shift our thinking a bit, that helps us. Rick looked at the data. I did not, so I will defer to him, but I'm pretty sure Harvard could admit every single person with a 5.0 weighted GPA and still have people who did not get into Harvard based on... So I guess they're all qualified for some, but when we start seeing an underrepresented minority who might have a lower GPA, not have access to the same rigor, we start to determine that that person somehow is less qualified because this is where society has put quality.
And I also think that when we think about Black students who are in the middle class or in the upper middle class and maybe they are at integrated schools, I think that we have to remember what they're overcoming every day when they're sitting in those classrooms. And I think we need to think about the racial trauma that they're showing up with. I think we have to think about the adultification of Black girls, and I think that a lot of that is left out. When I was a civil rights lawyer, I visited hundreds of schools predominantly in the south, and I went to hundreds of community meetings, mostly at Black churches.
And I can tell you that what those parents were telling me at every meeting of what they were saying to their children are things that I've never had to say to my child. My child does not go to school thinking, "Don't walk down the street without your hoodie on." He sits at the breakfast table with his hoodie on. "Keep your hands out of your pockets whenever you go into a store, always get a receipt in a store. You can't leave a store without a receipt." We tell my child, "Police officer stops you, you say nothing and say, 'Call my parents.'" That is not what I was hearing, at least in all of these communities that they were telling their children. So their children are going to school with a lot of trauma that my child is not. So if their GPA is a little bit different, are they less qualified? I don't think so.
Yeah, and I'll agree with that last point of Amy's. Amy has articulated an argument in favor of race-based affirmative action on fairness grounds. Unfortunately, that's not where the debate is in the Supreme Court or in admissions offices for the most part. So when I talk to admissions officers about fairness, they kind of roll their eyes and they say, "Well, that's so naive." This isn't about who deserves to get in. It's about how we create a class that will benefit everyone that'll have an interesting mix of students of different backgrounds. And I think that's where higher education lost the public. And Willies lose the Supreme Court too ultimately, because people do want a system that's going to be fair. And you all studied this issue. There were two major rationales for a race-based affirmative action. The remedial rationale and the diversity rationale and the remedial one has gone away.
And that one has much more power to me personally, I think to a lot of people than the diversity rationale. So fairness has to be central to the next stage. Two other quick points, I agree with Amy that it is not fair to just look at grades and test scores that you have to look at the obstacles students have overcome and that there's actually the students who who've overcome odds and managed to do pretty well despite that are more meritorious than those who have the perfect SATs and grades.
Last thing I'll say on your point about Michael, about the spots for disabled people, I think that's a real phenomenon. Many people have said that racial affirmative action has been a wonderful thing for the white male ego because white males would discount their failures in life by pointing to things like affirmative action when it's a tiny number who were actually affected. But the flip side of that is a political question is to the extent that the gains are marginal, is it worth the fact that people think that they're being harmed? At the end of the day, I would say yes, that it's worth it and that we should have handicapped spots. We should find ways to have racial diversity on campus, even to the extent that some people think it might be unfair, but it's not something to discount either.
MICHAEL J. FEUER:
I'm glad to just segue into a final question and then see if others who are with us want to get in on this. But I think you've both pretty much indicated that even though you may not be equally pleased by this, that you're anticipating a Supreme Court ruling that will essentially substantially limit, if not terminate race-based preferences. So if you were to advise university leadership in an institution that cares deeply about diversity for all of the reasons we've talked about, if I could ask each of you to suggest two, just two bits of advice for people who are going to continue working on admissions and all of the related things. And I know I didn't give you this in advance, so you're going to have to come up with one or two ideas that what should we do? Here we are.
Be clear, Michael, you didn't give us any of the questions in advance, but those are great questions. I would say the first thing a university should do is kind of do a forensic analysis of what does count in admissions today. And it's easy to run regressions and it's been done, it was done by Bowen, it was done in the cases by Harvard and UNC and then by Students for Fair Admissions. What counts in admissions and can you justify it? Can you justify the fact that legacy has such a big weight or that we're putting an extraordinary amount of attention on a standardized test that someone sits for for three hours? Those are questions. Just having the data on what currently counts is really important before you can then take steps to make the changes. And then I would suggest testing to see given that racial diversity is a strong concern, what sort of interventions will produce greater and lesser levels of racial diversity? Now you have to be careful about that because if you're simply reverse engineering a certain racial result, you may get in legal-
... Reverse engineering a certain racial result, you may get in legal trouble. But I think so that the key thing comes back to fairness. So long as you can justify the idea on the grounds of fairness. Of course, we need to consider the fact that someone went to a high poverty high school. Yes, it produces racial diversity, but that's the fair thing to do. As long as you have an independent rationale, I think you'll be fine even with the Supreme Court.
So I totally agree with Rick that that's where you need to start. And I would even go further and say that some of Rick's research also points out once universities do this, what especially public flagships need to be doing. I think that you've written about this, but what research has demonstrated that works is really strong pipeline programs. And so especially public flagship universities need to have pipeline programs. They cannot have them with every high school. They're going to have to pick certain ones, but that has been shown to work.
I think University of Texas only had two high schools that they did those with, but those were the two where they got their socioeconomic diversity from. And I think that we really need to dig the research to see where can we put our resources best to help this, and that would be one of them.
MICHAEL J. FEUER:
Anybody want to pose any other question?
DWAYNE KWAYSEE WRIGHT:
Sure. So first of all, thank you for this. It is great to see both of you again and thank you for the work that you're doing. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with our students here at the George Washington University. We really appreciate it. Rick, you're sort of a member of us too. So my name is Dwayne Kwaysee Wright. I am a higher ed professor at the George Washington University. I have the wonderful distinction working both for and with Michael at the Graduate School for Education and Human Development. So I'll give a question to you both.
So this has been a quote, Rick, that I've been thinking about and we've been talking about all semester in the class that you teach here for us at the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy. Shout out Trachtenberg. And the quote is, there is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequals. There's nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequals. And if you think some crazy Marxist said that, the crazy Marxist would be the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson.
Sitting here at a university named after the first president, George Washington, we live in a nation where we create unequals from birth. The Black participation rate in pre-K is lower than the white participation rate. The Latino participation rate in charter schools are lower than the white participation rate. So my question to you is how is socioeconomic status separated from race, anything but treating unequals that we create unequal as equals? So that's your question. Amy, not to be outdone, here's your question.
So there's a lot of progressive handholding about affirmative action, but part of the problem with affirmative action, it's a proxy. There are many progressive organizations, some right here in DC, that would rather hire the last person as far as class ranking from Harvard, no offense, than the first person from Howard. With the upcoming end of affirmative action, what is the policy and moral responsibility of progressives to walk the walk and talk the talk to actually get strong and active diversity and not just a preference for privilege?
Dwayne and I have had many wonderful conversations about this and other issues, so I did not expect a softball. I think I would come back to the point that in treating people who face disadvantages with the respect and consideration that they deserve, at the end of the day, the statistics you were citing came back to particular advantages or disadvantages that those people faced. So you cited pre-K, the Black, white rate and access to pre-K is different. Well, there are some Black people who do have access to pre-K and there are some, maybe not a lot, but there could be some Asian or white people who don't have access to that.
So rather than using race as a proxy for disadvantage, I would want to go directly to pre-K access as something to ask about. And let's find out more about these students. What sort of obstacles have they had to face in life? And if it distills down to race where the applicant says, as in Amy's example, listen, I'm middle class African American and I have faced these obstacles in life. I would like to count that at a personalized level, which is very different than saying if an applicant checks a box then they get a certain consideration.
I'm not even sure I still have that question, but I'm going to try. Yes, I think, where you go to school is a proxy for a lot of things. I take issue with the Howard, Harvard comparison because I don't think most people would take the last person from the Harvard class from somebody at the beginning of the Howard class. But I do think that one of the issues is that when we get down to this very end of road, when you are talking about graduating from college or graduating from law school or so forth, people are getting different resources at different places.
And so when you're thinking about about community college, which is an incredibly important point on this journey for a lot of people, you're talking about professors who oftentimes have less education than professors four-year institutions. You're talking about professors who are teaching a lot more classes and can give a lot less individualization than if you're a professor at GW. You're often talking about people who have multiple jobs because of how poorly they are paid. And so this proxy is baked into this system from much earlier on.
And so, but if we take race conscious measures out, we're putting even more people without having the advantage of sitting in rooms where a lot of white people get to sit.
MICHAEL J. FEUER:
Happy to invite to the studio the general counsel of the George Washington University, my wonderful colleague, Charles Barber. Charles.
Good morning and thank you for this. Many of us try to figure out where this will go when as expected the Supreme Court says you can't use race conscious means. And I've heard two different views in terms of the states that have by law said they can't, at least the public schools cannot use race-based means. And those have come up with race neutral means and been more aggressive about that. And Rick, you had a slide about that. It's very laudable. That's impressive. I've heard one view that says, notwithstanding those efforts states by and large did not achieve the same level of racial diversity that they had prior to those laws.
I saw your slide that said seven states were successful and you had some explanation what was going on in California. I thought that I saw that it was 2012 data. I'm trying to make some sense of those different views, what actually did happen in those states and what that might tell us going forward. Because I think GW and other institutions will be in that same position. We will not be able to use race conscious means. We will turn to hopefully a more robust effort in pursuing race neutral means. How successful do you think we are likely to reach the same comparable or even higher levels of racial diversity after some period of decline or hopefully bounce back?
MICHAEL J. FEUER:
Thank you, Charles.
Yeah. That's a great question and I can send you the study that found the seven of 10 states and it's got all the data in there and the test was Black and Hispanic representation at the level that it was when race was banned, and seven of 10 were successful. Now, Amy made the good point that the demographics of these states sometimes changed. That was almost never true with respect to Black populations. It tended to be true with Hispanic populations. And if the question is what's the absolute best way to guarantee a particular racial percentage, you'll have no argument from me that race will always be the most precise way to guarantee.
Because by definition, you're targeting exactly what you want and considering race is a factor in order to get a certain racial result, the question is whether that will be legal and whether that's the only thing that universities should care about. And I don't think anyone would say any one thing would be the only thing some universities should care about. But the evidence suggests that universities can be successful in creating an academically prepared student body that is racially diverse if they use the right factors.
And that's where I think it's going to be important to learn from what universities in these several states did right and what they did wrong. Just to give you one example, I was reading an interview with the UC Berkeley Dean of Admissions recently, and they just saw a big bump up in Black and Hispanic admissions. And he was asked, well, what did we do? And it was this most simple thing that in the application before asking GPA and test scores, they asked for family socioeconomic status. And that change in the order of the questions on the application, this admissions dean said, led to more people of lower economic means disproportionately students of color applied and finished the application and went forward.
So I mean that's something that would never have occurred to me that would make any difference. So there are a lot of things that we can learn from these states. And in the oral argument to the Supreme Court, Joe Biden's solicitor general said there are several states that have been quite successful in using race neutral alternatives to get racial diversity. We should learn from those. Every university should be learning from those. Now she was pointing to the outliers, the ones that hadn't been as successful in her view, but there's a lot to learn from across the board, I think.
I would just say though that I'm not seeing any studies that actually take into account the current demographics that say that any of these states are back at the same level that they were when they could use race conscious measures. And I think I cite to several of them in the handout, but long abatement in 2020 looked across all nine states and really did not find that they were getting back when you took into consideration what the demographics look like today. I think it'll be interesting to see what California looks like now that they can't consider any standardized testing and we don't have the data on what that looks like yet.
Yeah. So my name is Meg Wurm. I'm a doctoral student here in Dr. Foyer's class. And so my question is for you, Dr. Kahlenberg. Earlier you mentioned that one of the things that you saw in states like Georgia where they were no longer allowed to use race-based admissions, the Republican leaders in those states still said diversity is a priority for us. Let's work as hard as we can to make sure that we have that reflected. Given what the landscape related to diversity in higher education looks like right now, what we're seeing in Florida, what we're seeing in Texas, do you think that Republican leaders in states will still have that same drive for increasing diversity if these measures are no longer allowed to be used?
MICHAEL J. FEUER:
Good question, Meg.
Yeah, that is a great question because I was referring to, it was actually Texas and Florida when they were both governed by a governor named Bush, which was a different era for the Republican Party to say the least. So that's an open question as to whether they will react. I will just say that public opinion will be against governors if they say we're not going to do anything. We're going to see Black and Hispanic numbers fall dramatically and we're not going to lift a finger. I don't think that's a tenable position to take politically.
And certainly university leaders themselves, I think, are genuinely committed to racial diversity and ethnic diversity and so will take steps to do what they can. But your point is a fair one. Times have changed and it may be that Republicans will take that extremist position, we're not going to do anything. And then as with the abortion issue, I think they will pay a price politically if they take that extreme position.
Thank you so both so much for being here this morning. I really, really appreciate it. My name's Daylen Orlick and I'm a doctoral student in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development here at GW. So you each spoke about the costs affiliated with providing socioeconomic status as one of the factors in regards to admissions, specifically noting the $500 million investment into all of that. And to kind of broaden the scope a little bit, it's obviously very, very expensive to manage and maintain higher education institutions already.
We're looking at enrollment cliffs and other things and other factors that are already dampening our budgets within higher education. So I wanted to ask, what do you think are going to be the impacts on having to potentially invest in more socioeconomic status investment and those things to be able to recruit students of diverse backgrounds when things are already impacting whether or not universities stay open regardless of this decision and whether or not this affirmative action decision will have a large or significant impact on the landscape of higher ed institutions outside of just admissions and everything else?
MICHAEL J. FEUER:
You can see why I love this because I learned so much from my students. I hadn't actually thought of this possibility that the investment required to do the kind of holistic admissions that could promote more diversity will end up cutting into our financial aid budgets and making it less likely that we can actually afford to make it possible for poorer students to attend here. I think that's part of the point here, and I thank Daylen for raising that question. And you can answer it, Rick.
Okay. So to be clear, the affirmative action debate really is focused on selective colleges. The vast majority of colleges in America are non-selective and admit almost all students. And so we're talking about a narrower slice of the higher education landscape and the wealthier slice of the higher education landscape. The selective colleges tend to have more resources. So, that's a positive thing. Now, not everyone can afford to do what Harvard's going to do to get racial diversity by using economic factors.
And there, I think it will be incumbent upon states and the federal government to invest further in making sure that there is the financial aid necessary for students. This is a crisis for selective colleges and we will have to see how leaders respond. It is possible that some will say, this is just too expensive. We're going to give up on diversity. I think that's unlikely because diversity is, for very good reason, woven into the DNA of higher education institutions. They recognize that a lack of diversity means they can't provide an excellent education.
And so I think universities will have to, there will be some trade-offs. Maybe the faculty salaries go up a little slower. Maybe there are fewer expansions of dorms. But I think we will at the end of the day, see this as a defining moment. How do we respond to the Supreme Court decision and will we prioritize making sure that we find diversity in new ways? And I think there's good reason to believe a lot of universities will do that. For those who can't afford it, we have to make sure that there's public pressure brought to bear to invest further in higher education for this specific purpose to say we don't want higher education to re-segregate and so we need to spend the money to make sure it doesn't.
I agree with what Rick said. What I would add though is that the slice of the highly selective elite colleges that actually can afford to be need blind is an even smaller slice of these highly selective schools. GW, which is a highly selective school, is not need blind and does not commit to meeting full need. And again, it's a highly selective school. So this is going to be a huge issue. UNC, which is a flagship university, I believe explained in their papers that a significant portion of their endowment is restricted. People give funds for X, Y, and Z.
And so while it looked like they had this really large endowment, they really didn't have the funding to necessarily do the socioeconomic diversity that we're talking about.
MICHAEL J. FEUER:
I think we're going to wrap this up. I can't thank you both enough. This has been a real gift to our students and to our guests to have this conversation. There's part of me that wants to wax a little bit romantic and just say, in the world of education, we have a specialization called Teaching Difficult History. And I am glad to be living in a country that is willing, even with a certain amount of grudge, to confront difficult history and to figure out what we can do to make the future a little bit less difficult for so many of our people.
And to the extent that that kind of ethos is present in a place like the George Washington University where we are confronting difficult history and trying so hard to figure out how to manage in a way to promote some improvement, these are in inordinately complicated questions that touch on morality and philosophy and economics and history and that probably don't have an optimal solution. But it is good to know that so many smart people, such as Amy Berman and Rick Kahlenberg are continuing to think about and work on and write about and promote the kind of dialogue we need.
And I want to thank in particular my great students for their work in this area and my faculty, colleagues and others. Thank you both.