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.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Another Honor from National Education Writers Association for Color and Money Author

Color and Money author Peter Schmidt has just received a national award from the Education Writers Association for an essay based on his book and published in The Boston Globe.

Schmidt received second prize in the category "Opinion-Circulation over 100,000" (for major daily newspapers) for his essay "At the elite colleges--dim white kids." The honor comes in the EWA's 2007 National Awards for Education Reporting.

Schmidt's analytical piece was e-mailed far and wide and had an enormous impact. It was highlighted in the popular news digest The Week and cited by The American Prospect blog TAPPED, a host of black-oriented blogs (including Jack and Jill Politics), the progressive blog CommonDreams.org, and a long list of Web sites and chat boards dealing with college admissions. It continues to influence the affirmative action debate with its conclusion that, on selective college campuses, whites students who gained admission solely through nonacademic preferences outnumber the black and Hispanic beneficiaries of affirmative-action preferences by a margin of about 2 to 1.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

New Report Warns Growing Education Gaps May Hurt Social Mobility

A new report commissioned by the Pew Charitable Trusts and written by Brookings Institution scholars warns that growing gaps in college access threaten social mobility in the United States. It says parental income and race and ethnicity appear to be playing an ever greater role in determining one's access to college and long-term financial prospects, with the education gap widening between whites and Asians on one hand and blacks and Hispanics on the other. In recent years, just 11 percent of the children of America's poorest fifth have gone on to earn college degrees, compared to 53 percent of children from the top fifth. The report, "Getting Ahead or Losing Ground: Economic Mobility in America," can be downloaded here.

Peter Schmidt in USA Today: "Asians, not whites, hurt most by race-conscious admissions"

Peter Schmidt has an article in the February 20 issue of USA Today discussing a recent study finding that it was Asian American, and not white, enrollments that rose substantially at five prestigious public universities after they were precluded from considering applicants' race or ethnicity. A more detailed discussion of the report, published in the journal InterActions, is available to Chronicle of Higher Education subscribers here. The report itself--by prominent education researchers David R. Colburn, Victor M. Yellen, and Charles E. Young--is available here.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Campaigns Against Affirmative-Action Preferences Face Possible Setbacks in Michigan and Oklahoma

The crusade against affirmative-action preferences being led by Ward Connerly appears at risk of possible setbacks in Michigan and Oklahoma, although there is a good chance that any Michigan setback will only be temporary.

Michigan's Proposal 2 ban on affirmative-action preferences, passed by 58 percent of that state's voters in November 2006, seems somewhat likely to be ruled unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court Judge David M. Lawson in the coming weeks or months. Not only did Judge Lawson previously issue a decision--later overturned--to temporarily block the enforcement of Proposal 2, he also has made several procedural calls against advocates of the measure in handling two lawsuits (later joined into one) seeking to have it overturned. Moreover, when Judge Lawson held a February 7 hearing on whether the cases should go to trial, both his line of questioning and the procedural calls he made suggested that advocates of Proposal 2 weren't exactly on his Valentine's Day shopping list. Throw all of these tea leaves together, and it's no big leap to read them as portending that Lawson will strike down Proposal 2 in a summary judgment (without holding a trial).

If Judge Lawson does issue a summary judgment ruling Proposal 2 unconstitutional, two developments are almost certain: An appeal of his ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and the onset of headache-inducing confusion in Michigan as state agencies try to decide whether to comply with Proposal 2 while its legality remains up in the air.

One of the lawsuits challenging Proposal 2, filed by the NAACP and ACLU, argues that it violates the Equal Protection Clause by essentially walling off racial and ethnic minorities from receiving the same sorts of admissions preferences that public colleges give to other subsets of the population, such as military veterans or the children of alumni. The other lawsuit, filed by the group By Any Means Necessary, argues that, without affirmative action, college admissions criteria irremediably discriminate against black, Hispanic, and Native American applicants, so Proposal 2 has the effect of imposing a discriminatory system.

Judges on the Sixth Circuit have already expressed skepticism toward these arguments, concluding in a December 2006 ruling that they did not see any reason to forestall enforcement of Proposal 2 because they did not think the arguments made against it will prevail in the federal courts. And similar arguments were ultimately rejected by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit--in a decision that the U.S. Supreme Court declined to reconsider--in cases challenging California's Proposition 209, a 1996 ballot measure with language very similar to Proposal 2. So if Judge Lawson strikes down Proposal 2, the setback may well only be a temporary one.

The situation in Oklahoma is much different. There, officials are taking up a fairly simple question: whether the campaign on behalf of a proposed ban on affirmative-action preferences has enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot in November.

The campaign organization needed 138,970 valid signatures. And, partly because Oklahoma law allows only 90 days for such petition-gathering, it turned in fewer than it hoped. The 141,184 signatures that it submitted to state officials may seem like enough on the surface, but that total does not offer much in the way of a buffer. The invalidation of just 1.6 percent of their signatures could sink their campaign. On February 8, the Associated Press reported that Oklahoma Secretary of State Susan Savage had told the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which is ultimately responsible for the signature count, that she had found many duplicate signatures and cases where dozens of signatures were listed as being at the same address.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Study Suggests "No Child Left Behind" May Push Minority Students to Leave High School

A Texas school accountability law that served as a model for the No Child Left Behind Act has had the effect of causing more students--especially blacks and Hispanics--to drop out of high school, a new study concludes.

The study, summarized here on the Chronicle of Higher Education blog, tracked students in a large urban Texas district over seven years and found that the state's school accountability law created incentives for high schools to let students drop out (or even take steps that might encourage them to do so). Because the law calls for schools to be rated based on their students' test scores, it enables schools to improve their ratings by letting many of their lowest-scoring students--who are disproportionately black, Hispanic, and low-income--walk out the door. It also creates incentives for school officials to hold students back a year, which generally results in improvements in their test scores but also strongly increases the likelihood they will drop out.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Federal Government Investigates 16 New York Campuses' Efforts to Help Black Men

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has begun investigations of 16 campuses of the City University of New York system to determine whether they violating federal civil-rights laws in their efforts to help black men.

The investigations stem from a complaint filed in 2006 by a group called the New York Civil Rights Coalition, which alleged that the CUNY system was violating civil-rights laws by gearing offerings to members of a specific race.

According to the New Yori Civil Rights Coalition, the CUNY institutions under investigation are the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Kingsborough Community College, LaGuardia Community College, Baruch College, Brooklyn College, City College, Lehman College, the College of Staten Island, Medgar Evers College, Hostos Community College, Hunter College, Queens College, Queensborough Community College, York College, the CUNY Graduate School and University Center, and the New York City College of Technology.

Additional details of the investigation are available on the Chronicle of Higher Education blog. The back-and-forth in the commentary field makes for lively reading as well.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Two New Studies Sharply Criticize Many Workplace Diversity Programs

Two new studies of workplace diversity programs say that many are ineffective or may actually hurt companies' efforts to hire and promote more minority members and women.

One of the studies--yet unpublished, but described in detail in a Washington Post article--analyzed 31 years' worth of data from 830 mid-sized to large workplaces and found that "the kind of diversity training exercises offered at most firms" were followed by a 7.5 percent drop in the number of women in management, a 10 percent drop in the number of black women in management, and a 12 percent drop in the number of black men in top positions. "Similar effects were seen for Latinos and Asians," the newspaper reported.

The study said that voluntary diversity training programs, which do not require employee participation and tend to be designed to promote some business goal, actually seemed to result in increased diversity in managerial ranks. The programs that were ineffective were the mandatory diversity training programs that many companies adopt out of fear of discrimination lawsuits. Alexandra Kalev, a Univerity of Arizona sociologist who headed up the research, told the newspaper that "forcing people to go through training creates a backlash against diversity."

A second study, by the Rand Corporation, says that many companies seem to look at diversity superficially--focusing on the numbers of people from one group or another in various positions--and fail to rethink how they do business so that their increased diversity makes them more productive and profitable and their employees happier.