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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Founded in 1996 by former Harvard professors Gary Orfield and Christopher Edley, Jr., the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles is now co-directed by Orfield and Patricia Gándara, professors at UCLA. Its mission is to create a new generation of research in social science and law, on the critical issues of civil rights and equal opportunity for racial and ethnic groups in the United States. It has commissioned more than 400 studies, published 14 books and issued numerous reports from authors at universities and research centers across the country. The U.S. Supreme Court, in its 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision upholding affirmative action, and in Justice Breyer’s dissent (joined by three other Justices) to its 2007 Parents Involved in Community Schools decision, cited the Civil Rights Project’s research.

Cover page of Policy Brief: Unequal Public Schools Makes Affirmative Action Essential for Equal Opportunity

Policy Brief: Unequal Public Schools Makes Affirmative Action Essential for Equal Opportunity

(2020)

The brief first presents new facts on the extraordinary segregation of Black and Latino students in the state’s public schools. Second, it shows that those groups are doubly segregated by race and poverty at the most educationally unsuccessful schools. These children are, on average, from families with far lower income and wealth and with parents with significantly less education. School is their chance to break the cycle of inequality but they are highly isolated in the state’s weakest schools, with very few having the opportunity to attend the competitive schools which are the most equipped to prepare students for access to a very competitive higher education system. The playing field is highly unequal — so many of the advantages that come to students from more privileged families do not reflect individual skill or merit in winning the race, but a much better starting point within the unequal public schools. Extreme segregation in unequal schools means that Black and Latino students and Native American students have very different opportunities to prepare for college.

Affirmative action policies, now legal in all but nine states and practiced by the great majority of the nation’s selective universities, allow admissions officials to consider a student’s racial background as one of a number of factors in making admissions decisions. 

Cover page of Scholarly Findings on Affirmative Action Bans

Scholarly Findings on Affirmative Action Bans

(2020)

This policy brief provides an overview of what is known about the impact of these bans nationally and complements research specific to California (see, for example, Kidder 2020). It includes: admission of highly qualified applicants, racial and ethnic diversity in higher education at highly selective and less selective institutions, ethnic and racial diversity in graduate fields of study, STEM degrees, faculty diversity, and the way that colleges and universities have attempted to compensate for the absence of affirmative action.

Cover page of Proposition 16 and a Brighter Future for All Californians: A synthesis of research on affirmative action, enrollment, educational attainment and careers at the University of California

Proposition 16 and a Brighter Future for All Californians: A synthesis of research on affirmative action, enrollment, educational attainment and careers at the University of California

(2020)

This policy brief synthesizes research on enrollment, graduation and career success for traditionally underrepresented students, the benefits of diverse learning environments including campus racial climate, and the need to increase diversity in UC professional and graduate schools to better serve the health and wellbeing of all Californians.