Affirmative Action and The California Bar Exam

An educator wants to look at the impact of affirmative action programs on the career prospects of minority law students.  Seems fair enough, but his chief obstacle: The State Bar of California, which won’t release the relevant data.

Read this interesting editorial in The Los Angeles Times

Affirmative action and the bar exam
A California professor studying affirmative action should have access to law school performance statistics.

Americans have been debating the fairness and efficacy of racial preferences in college and graduate school admissions for more than 30 years. Now a UCLA professor is seeking to test his hypothesis that affirmative action programs actually hurt the career prospects of minority law school graduates. But he has been hampered in his research by the indefensible failure of the State Bar of California to provide the statistics he needs.

The professor, Richard H. Sander, has requested data about the performance of white and minority law school graduates on the bar examination, along with information about the schools they attended and their grades. In resisting his request, bar officials cite the need to protect the privacy of test takers and to honor an agreement that test material will remain confidential. At the same time, some defenders of affirmative action have argued against releasing the data because they think Sander’s project could have only one purpose: to discredit the idea of racial preferences.

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