School Choice More Effective than Affirmative Action
If America is to become an equal society, then the direction of affirmative action must be changed. Rather than continuing to focus the brunt of our efforts on helping those individuals near the top succeed, we must implement policies designed to provide opportunities to those individuals at or near the bottom. Specifically, affirmative action must return to its original purpose--helping minorities move into the middle class through programs based upon equality of educational opportunity and job creation.
Affirmative action is still needed, but its efforts must be redirected. The truth is that minorities poised to break through the glass ceiling will do so, based upon sheer ability, but minorities on the bottom rungs of society need help to break through the cellar ceiling. These are the individuals for whom affirmative action can do the most good, consequently, these are the people upon whom our efforts should be focused.
When affirmative action was first instituted, the majority of Americans supported its goal of moving the poorest members of minority groups to an improved position in society. Over time, however, affirmative action proponents have lost sight of this goal. Affirmative action programs have ceased to function as a rising tide designed to lift all boats and have instead become preoccupied with helping those near the top. Too little attention has been paid to helping those at the bottom, as a result, the lives of minorities living in poverty have become increasingly bleak. Today, our inner-cities more closely resemble a war zone in Bosnia than they do an American suburb, and conditions continue to deteriorate. This is wrong, and as Americans, we have a moral obligation to improve these conditions.
Significantly improving the conditions of America's poorest minorities will require stronger, more effective policies based upon educational opportunity and job creation. For starters, the government must provide equality of educational opportunity.
Education is the key to breaking into the middle class, but the traditional educational structure institutionalizes inequality. Today, the quality of one's elementary and secondary education correlates directly with one's socioeconomic status. Children of successful parents get the better opportunities, while poor children, and almost all inner-city children, get a second-rate education. This perpetuates and widens the gulf between the haves and have-nots.
To become a truly equal society,...