Asian American Coalition for Education (AACE) commends an important decision undertaken by the current administration to systematically roll back an Obama-era policy guidance that promoted the heightened use of race in college admissions and to issue new guidance. This is a triumphant moment for Asian American communities, as well as for AACE when our relentless efforts to help Asian American students secure their civil rights to equal education are accommodated by the federal government and crystalized into a necessary policy reform.
This timely update signifies a culmination of much-needed government actions to revamp misguided policies that facilitated widespread abuses of race-based affirmative action in higher education. As early as November 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice responded to AACE’s civil rights complaint against Harvard by starting an investigation into the school’s admissions practices. On June 29, 2018, the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education restored a policy notice dated back to the Bush era which instructs all schools receiving federal financial assistance to strictly observe the relevant U.S. Supreme Court rulings on the use of race in college admissions. On July 3, 2018, the Justice Department acted accordingly by rescinding seven policy documents that promoted racial balancing in postsecondary education.
Such accumulative measures align with a series of steady-going Supreme Court rulings that progressively curtail the use of race in college admissions and banned uses of racial quotas, racial stereotypes, and higher standards. More importantly, this new regulatory reform epitomizes AACE’s success as a broad-based network with an impressive record of advocating educational equality for all American students, especially Asian Americans who have been disproportionately hurt by discriminatory admissions practices.
Since 2015, AACE has been actively campaigning through administrative complaints against Harvard, Yale, Brown, and Dartmouth, and continuously driving for policy changes to scale back an overt focus on racial balancing to the detriment of hard-working Asian American students. Our tireless efforts are finally starting to pay off with the July 3 announcement of a critical regulatory reform in education.
AACE applauds the current policy update as a pragmatic legal interpretation to guarantee equal protection of the laws for all American children and thanks the Education Department for responding to our policy recommendations by doing so.
Elimination of the race balancing focused guidance for college admissions is a necessary first step for achieving educational equality, after which resources and efforts can be jointly concentrated into improving K-12 education in inner cities and helping socioeconomically disadvantaged students achieve better education, regardless of their races.