Ignoring Mismatch

[NOTE: Cross-Posted on College Insurrection]

Often missed by reviewers who are astounded by the dramatic evidence Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor Jr. present of the damage “mismatch” does to underprepared but preferentially admitted minorities is their equally if not more damning demonstration that university leaders routinely ignore this growing body of scholarship.

The purpose of the brief Sander and Taylor filed in the Fisher case, they write, was to bring “the grim picture” painted by this evidence to the Court’s attention, something it was necessary to do because of the “determination among university administrators to minimize public awareness of the actual workings of large racial preferences, which in turn leads them to ignore or deny the large academic harms produced by those preferences.” Indeed, as I wrote in my review of Mismatch, “perhaps the most depressing aspect of the story told here is the rigid, close-minded ideological resistance of academic leaders and their liberal allies even to consider the evidence that Sander, Taylor, and other scholars have amassed demonstrating the damage done by racial preferences and the rewards that would flow from eliminating or minimizing them.”

There they go again, still wearing blinders. The American Council on Education has issued a new issues brief, The Education Gap: Understanding African American and Hispanic Attainment Disparities in Higher Education, that, its press release claims, “sheds light” on why blacks and Hispanics lag behind in college performance.

The light it purports to shed is pretty dim, focusing as it does only on such “obstacles” and “inequities” as minorities being “less likely to take rigorous courses or earn college credit in high school” and “more likely … to need remediation … or complete fewer than 20 credits in the first year.” These failures are cumulative, the brief notes, so that “by failing to meet one condition after another even after they enroll in college, some minority students face narrowing chances of success.”

Are there really members of the American Council of Education’s membership and wider audience who need to be told that “[t]he confluence of multiple impediments,” as the ACE report concludes, “is one of the keys to explaining the pervasiveness of postsecondary attainment gaps”?

The full report is not available online, but there is no indication in the ACE material or in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s long article about the report that “mismatch” is anywhere noticed as one of those “multiple impediments.” Since blacks and Hispanics are virtually the exclusive recipients of affirmative action preferences in admissions, one might think that a study of their “attainment gaps” might address the growing body of evidence that “mismatch” contributes significantly to those gaps.

Say What?