ERN National President Shavar Jeffries Statement on Reports of the Trump Administration’s Effort to Roll Back Affirmative Action in Higher Education

“Hopefully, this week’s firestorm of controversy over reports the Trump administration is seeking to deploy U.S. Department of Justice resources in an effort to roll back affirmative action will lead higher education leaders not just to defend race-consciousness in college admissions, but also examine just what it means to make a meaningful commitment to diversity and opportunity in higher education. It’s unacceptable that Black students graduate at a rate 45 percent lower than White students from four year colleges overall; that talented Latino students are channeled to underperforming community colleges; and that scores of colleges with the same student demographics and the same academic standards produce wildly different results by race.

Numerous public and private education policies undermine diversity in college admissions, fairness in educational opportunity, and corrective and social justice overall. Legacy preferences, preferences for wealthy potential donors, binding early decision, non-need based student aid policies, and more need to change if colleges are to make a meaningful commitment to diversity and opportunity. We should establish clear benchmarks for college access, affordability, and success to incentivize meaningful results for students and families. Progressives should insist on increased investment in education rigor, quality, and opportunity for all students at all levels. We are right to resist the core of the Trump agenda and its most cynical, pernicious manifestations, but we also should insist on more from all actors in our education system.

Education Reform Now strongly supports affirmative action in higher education, and in fact submitted an amicus brief in favor of such cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in the recent Fisher case. But we are also aware of how much more should be demanded of our education system K-16 in order to enable all students, particularly those from low-income families and students of color, to obtain successfully a globally competitive education empowering them to fulfill their limitless potential.”

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Contact: Ashley Johnson — ashleyj@dfer.org, 908-209-8992