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Here’s what happened when affirmative action ended at California public colleges.

Here’s what happened when affirmative action ended at California public colleges.

National Public Radio, Inc.

Emma Bowman
June 30, 2023
For decades, the question of affirmative action — whether colleges should consider race when deciding which students to admit — has been the subject of national debate.
And as the nation’s highest court has grown more conservative in recent years, court-watchers wondered if it would reverse decades-old precedents allowing affirmative action.
This week, it happened: The Supreme Court struck down race-based admissions practices at public and private universities and colleges.
Supreme Court justices ruled that the admissions policies at the University of North Carolina, one of the country’s oldest public universities, and Harvard University, the country’s oldest private university, violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
As college admissions offices prepare to tailor their policies to the Supreme Court ruling, California offers lessons on what may be in store for the rest of the country.
Here’s the upshot: A quarter-century after California banned race-based admissions at public universities, school officials say they haven’t been able to meet their diversity and equity goals — despite more than a half billion dollars spent on outreach and alternative admissions standards.
In an amicus brief sent to the Supreme Court in support of Harvard and UNC’s race-based admissions programs, University of California chancellors said that years of crafting alternative race-neutral policies have fallen short.
“Those programs have enabled UC to make significant gains in its system-wide diversity,” the brief said. “Yet despite its extensive efforts, UC struggles to enroll a student body that is sufficiently racially diverse to attain the educational benefits of diversity.”
The shortfall is especially apparent at the system’s most selective schools, the university leaders said.
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