What people say about Color and Money-

"Anyone interested in the inequities of the selective college admissions process will find Color and Money clear-eyed, hard-hitting, enlightening, and informative."--Rachel Toor, author of Admissions Confidential: An Insider's Account of the Elite College Selection Process.
"For those concerned about why the march toward social justice in America has faltered badly for nearly forty years, Peter Schmidt's Color and Money is a highly instructive--and greatly disturbing--guidepost." --Richard Kluger, author of Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality.
"An indispensible guide to the debate over affirmative action in the United States."--Michael Lind, author of The Next American Nation.
"This book is a must read for anyone concerned with access to higher education, especially to the nation’s elite universities, as well as with larger questions of social policy and social justice."--Terry MacTaggart, Former Chancellor, University of Maine System
"Books on the highly-charged issue of affirmative action are usually one-sided and inflammatory. Peter Schmidt's Color and Money is a wonderful exception. It provides an honest and fair examination that is also passionate and illuminating."--Richard D. Kahlenberg, Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation, and author of The Remedy: Class, Race, and Affirmative Action

Peter Schmidt is available as a speaker

Peter Schmidt is available to speak at colleges, bookstores, schools, churches, and at gatherings of education associations. His past speaking engagements are listed at the bottom of this Web site. If interested in having him appear, e-mail him at schmidt_peter@msn.com. He also is available as an expert source for journalists covering affirmative action. Those on a tight deadline should email him at peter.schmidt@chronicle.com.

Hear interviews with Peter Schmidt

Jack Lessenberry of Michigan Public Radio talked to Peter Schmidt about Color and Money in August. You can hear the interview here. Reading the book inspired Jack to write an essay on it, which you can read here. You also can hear Peter Schmidt talk about his book on the NPR program Justice Talking and in a Chronicle of Higher Education podcast.

Color and Money Is a College Course!

Many college professors are now using Color and Money in their classes, but Jack Dougherty, the director of the educational studies program at Trinity College in Connecticut, has gone a big step beyond. He has decided to name a freshman seminar "Color and Money" and to structure the class around the book. He has graciously agreed to share his syllabus, available here, for faculty members at other colleges who may have the same idea.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Something for You on Your Front Porch, Harvard

Today's Boston Globe has an essay by Peter Schmidt discussing how elite colleges may be thwarting social mobility, and contributing to the complacency and academic mediocrity of children raised in privilege, by favoring applicants with cash and connections. It cites research concluding that 15 percent of the students at colleges in Barron's top two tiers are white kids who failed to meet their institution's academic standards. UPDATE: A letter written to the Boston Globe in response to the essay asserts that there simply are not many qualified low-income applicants out there, and elite colleges generally try hard to take in those who qualify. As discussed in Color and Money, there is indeed a phenomenon on college admissions called "the knighting effect," in which selective colleges show a high degree of interest in academically excellent students from seriously poor backgrounds. It does not appear to apply, however, to students whose family incomes are working class or above, or whose standardized admissions test scores are less than top-notch. For a careful empirical analysis of how many talented low-income students are not making into into selective colleges, see this study by Williams College researchers. While the letter writer is correct in noting that many of the selective-college applicants being elbowed aside by those who donate or have connections are themselves from privileged backgrounds, he fails to see the impact of such admissions preferences on applicants who are working-class or middle-class. It will be tough to have intergenerational social mobility if the children of those on the middle rungs of the economic ladder find their upward progress blocked.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Report Says Student Debt Rising Faster than Starting Salaries

A new report from the Project on Student Debt, a public-policy group, says the student-loan debts being shouldered by America's college graduates are rising faster than the starting salaries they stand to earn. Based on comparisons between the class of 2005 and the class of 2006, it found that average loan debt of graduates rose by 8 percent from one year to the next, while the average starting salary they were offered rose by just 4 percent. As noted on the Chronicle of Higher Education blog, the average student-loan debt faced by a member of the Class of 2006 was $21,100. The picture varied greatly from institution to institution and from one part of the country to the next, however. Graduates from institutions in Washington, D.C. and New Hampshire faced the highest debt levels, at $27,757 and $24,800, respectively, the report says. Hawaii graduates had the lowest debt, at $11,758. For the most part, high-debt states are concentrated in New England and the Midwest. Finding a college with low tuition does not necessarily mean graduating with equally low debt; a lot depends on whether the college is generous in offering financial aid to the needy. The Project on Student Debt's Web site includes an interactive map that lets college-bound students and their families click on a state and learn the bad news.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Closing the Campus-Visit Gap

From The Chronicle of Higher Education blog: A new report from Eduventures, a prominent higher-education consulting group, says colleges can greatly increase their enrollments of students from low-income families, or families without a parent who attended college, by encouraging such students to visit campus. The report points out that high-school students who visit a campus are especially likely to apply and to enroll after being admitted. As Color and Money notes, colleges see campus visits as a sign of applicant interest, and therefore tend to favor applicants who have taken campus tours. Unfortunately, such an admissions preference generally skews the game in favor of families that can easily afford hotels and air fare. The Eduventures report suggests that colleges offer travel grants to recruits from low-income backgrounds to make campus visits possible.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Professoriate Gets More Diverse

An article in this week's Chronicle of Higher Education notes that there has been a substantial increase over the last decade in minority representation on college faculties. As of 2005, the last year for which comprehensive data was available, 16.5 percent of the nation's professoriate was black, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American, up from 12.7 percent in 1995. In raw numbers, the gains were even larger, but there also was significant growth in the number of white professors, as well as professors who are not U.S. citizens. Hispanic and Asian American professors made the greatest inroads, with the number of full-time faculty members from each group rising by more than 75 percent. The number of black scholars with full-time faculty positions rose by about a third, the number of Native Americans, by about half. Many of the experts quoted in the story call the figures disappointing, saying they had hoped minority groups would have made greater strides.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

New federal report shows continued gaps between racial and ethnic groups in college performance

A new report by the U.S. Department of Education shows that larger shares of all minority groups are going on to earn college degrees, but black, Hispanic, and Native American students continue to lag behind white and Asian American students in terms of their achievement. A Chronicle of Higher Education story on the report, available to regular and temporary online subscribers here, notes that, while Hispanics outnumbered blacks at colleges, larger numbers of black students went on to earn their degrees. One explanation for this finding may be a lack of financial assistance for Hispanic students, who received the smallest average grant of any group. (Asian Americans were the least likely to receive aid, while black students were the most likely to receive aid and got the largest average award.) The Education Department's summary of its report's key findings is available here. For a disturbing glimpse at what might be holding back some Hispanic students, see this Arizona Republic story on teachers who mangle the English language while providing instruction.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Higher education's umbrella organization issues new guidance on affirmative action

The American Council on Education, an umbrella organization for the nation's higher-education associations, has issued new legal guidance on affirmative action at colleges in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in June in two cases involving race-based assignments to public schools. Like a similar report issued by the College Board in July, the new ACE paper tells colleges that they must be able to show that the pursuit of diversity is important to their missions, that their race-conscious admissions policies have educational benefits, and that they have considered ways to diversify their campus without considering applicants' race or ethnicity. For links to previous coverage of the Supreme Court's June decision, in cases involving public schools in Louisville, Ky., and Seattle, click here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Monday, September 3, 2007