Affirmative Action Debate: Is Class a Bigger Barrier to Success than Race?

Many fear that an upcoming Supreme Court decision will strike down the practice of affirmative action.

And as HuffPost’s Justin Pope points out, such a decision could spark debate on whether or not class – rather than race – is a larger barrier to economic success.

From the Huffington Post:

Polling on affirmative action varies widely depending on how questions are phrased, but an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Wednesday showed strong feelings about using race in college admissions: Just 22 percent of Americans support letting universities consider applicants’ race as a factor, and 76 percent oppose the practice. The proportions supporting racial preferences were similar for blacks (19 percent) and Hispanics (29 percent) as for whites (20 percent).

REPORT: 75 Percent of Students Arrested in Chicago Public Schools Are Black

According to research from Loyola University and Project NIA, 75 percent of students arrested in Chicago’s public schools last year were black.

The results only further convey the horrific racial disparities at the heart of the school-to-prison pipeline.

From Think Progress:

The study provides a total racial breakdown on arrests in 2012: That year, 3,240 black students were arrested, along with 889 Latinos, and 136 white students.

STUDY: Blacks Are Nearly 4 Times As Likely As Whites of Being Arrested for Pot Possession

According to the ACLU, authorities are targeting African Americans for marijuana-related offenses. The racial disparity is astounding.

According to their study, whites and blacks use marijuana at the same rate.

Yet, African Americans are nearly four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession. On a state-by-state basis, this disparity is even higher.

STUDY: Youth Incarceration Rates Have Dropped Dramatically

According to a report by the Anne E. Casey Foundation, youth incarceration rates have dropped by 41% since its peak in 1995.

In 2010 there were 70,792 young people incarcerated, compared to a whopping 107,637 in 1995.

There are a variety of factors that have contributed to this trend. Juvenile crime rates have fallen, long-term sentences for young people aren’t as prevalent, and the economic downturn has forced states and counties to pursue alternatives to incarceration.

Of course for young people of color, the odds are still stacked against them. Black youth are five times as likely as their white peers to be incarcerated; Latino and Native American youth are 2-3 times as likely.

REPORT: 1 in 4 Black Boys Believe They Will Fail at School

A report by California’s Assembly Select Committee on the status of of boys and men of color finds that, among other alarming statistics, by kindergarten, 1 in 4 African American boys believe they will fail at school.

The report takes a broad look that the experiences of young men of color – particularly black and Latino young men – in California.

They cite education, health and employment as significant concerns, and advocate for a multi-faceted approach to addressing these challenges.

Florida Board of Education to Set Lower Standards for Black Students

Last month, the State Board of Education in Florida approved a new set of student achievement guidelines that sets lower standards for Black youth.

Rather than closing the achievement gaps between students of different races, the guidelines simply accept them.

The Dept. of Ed. claims the guidelines acknowledge that “not everyone begins their education equipped with the same set of tools.”

But does that mean we should set lower expectations for our young people?