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, May 19, 2008

High-School Exit Tests Don't Boost Academic Performance, Study Says

Nearly half of the states require students to pass a test to graduate from high-school, based on the assumption that students should demonstrate some basic level of academic ability if their diplomas are to mean anything.

But, as reported here in The Chronicle of Higher Education, a new study of the impact of exit tests on student achievement suggests that being able to pass them does not really say much. The reason? Those states that adopted fairly tough tests soon found themselves besieged by the angry parents of children who did not pass, and responded by making the tests a lot easier. Other states felt no need to lower the bar because they had not set it very high in the first place.

One consequence of such actions is that the exit tests do little to drive schools to improve student achievement. When it comes to their scores on federal reading and math tests, students in states with high-school exit exams have not performed any better over time than those students who live in states without them.

Given that many of the students who fail the exit tests drop out of high school without ever getting their diplomas, the authors question whether the social benefits offered by the tests outweigh the costs.

The authors of the study, the results of which have been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication in the journal Educational Policy, are Eric Grodsky, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of California at Davis, Demetra Kalogrides, a graduate student in sociology at that campus, and John Robert Warren, an associate professor of sociology and a director of undergraduate studies at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

In a separate study published in January in the journal Sociology of Education, Grodsky, Warren, and Jennifer C. Lee, an assistant professor of sociology at Indiana University at Bloomington, found that people who earned their diplomas in states with high-school exit tests did not earn higher incomes than people who earned their diplomas elsewhere, and were no more likely to complete college or be employed.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Report Says Improving Black College Graduation Rates is Mainly a Matter of Commitment

Colleges already know the way to close gaps in black and white graduation rates, but most continue to lack the will to bring the necessary educational improvements about, according to a report recently released by Education Sector, a Washington-based research group.

"While more research in this area is certainly needed, the biggest challenge in better serving minority college students is not creating new knowledge about how to help them; it is creating new incentives for institutional leaders to act on the knowledge that already exists," says the report, written by Kevin Carey, Education Sector's research and policy manager.

"If there is a single factor that seems to distinguish colleges and universities that have truly made a difference on behalf of minority students, it is attention," the report says. "Successful colleges pay attention to graduation rates. They monitor year-to-year change, study the impact of different interventions on student outcomes, break down the numbers among different student populations, and continuously ask themselves how they could improve."

The report identifies several institutions--including Florida State University and the University of Alabama--where black students are at least as likely as their white peers to earn degrees in a timely manner. It says nothing is preventing other colleges from adopting the strategies such institutions have used to great effect, such as aggressively intervening to help students who run into trouble in the beginning of their freshman year and placing students in "learning communities" where they offer each other support while taking courses together.

Nationally, black students at four-year colleges have a six-year graduation rate that is about 20 percentage points lower than the six-year graduation rate for white students.

A Chronicle of Higher Education article summarizing the report's key findings is available to subscribers here.

Color and Money Author Wins National Award for Coverage of Minority Issues

Peter Schmidt, the author of Color and Money, has won a prestigious national award for his coverage of minority issues as a senior writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Lincoln University, a historically black institution located in Missouri, bestowed a Unity Award for education reporting on Schmidt for a series of stories on affirmative action at colleges. Lincoln University annually confers its Unity Awards in Media on journalists to honor them for outstanding coverage of issues affecting minority groups and people with disabilities.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Ward Connerly's "Super Tuesday" Campaign Suffers Another Setback

Just a few months ago, the prominent affirmative-action critic Ward Connerly seemed confident that he could get five states to vote this November on ballot measures barring public colleges and other state and local agencies from granting preferences based on race, ethnicity, or gender.

As of this week, however, the best result he can hope for is to score wins in three.

On Sunday, his campaign organization in Missouri conceded that it would not be able to meet a deadline for submitting enough petition signatures to get proposed ban on the November ballot in that state. With his Oklahoma organization having similarly abandoned its efforts in that state last month, Mr. Connerly is now left with three remaining targets: Arizona, Colorado, and Nebraska.

The campaign organization in Colorado has already submitted its petition signatures for counting. Mr. Connerly says he remains confident he will get measures on the ballot in Arizona and Nebraska, and he has vowed to continue his fight in Missouri and Oklahoma in the coming years.

Political analysts had predicted the measures would pass easily in all five of the states--provided, that is, they got on the ballot. As discussed in early blog postings here, however, Mr. Connerly ran into a tight deadline for gathering signatures in Oklahoma, and his Missouri campaign ran into massive resistance from state officials who sought to alter the measure's wording and local pro-affirmative-action activists who hit the streets to insert themselves between those circulating the petitions and potential signers.

A full Chronicle of Higher Education story on the latest Missouri development is available to its subscribers here.