Patricia Marin and John T. Yun of the Department of Education at UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School are two of 21 researchers nationwide who developed an amicus brief summarizing key research on affirmative action in anticipation of the case Fisher v. University of Texas, scheduled to go before the U.S. Supreme Court in October. The Supreme Court’s eventual ruling could shape the future of integration in American colleges.
The Civil Rights Project at UCLA submitted the brief, which was signed by nearly 450 scholars from 172 universities and research centers in 42 states in support. The Supreme Court must decide two central constitutional questions in reaching its ruling, both of which can be addressed by research. This brief focuses on evidence from across the country relating to the University’s consideration of race, both as one of many factors in evaluating applicants, and as an essential tool to producing a diverse and integrated educational community. It shows that the University and other institutions would lose educationally critical diversity ;without such policies given the inequality of opportunity in America’s unequal schools and communities.
“We hope that this brief will be of use to other parties participating in all American colleges, and to the justices and the clerks themselves,” claims Civil Rights Project Director Gary Orfield. “Hundreds of experts have participated in this important effort to communicate what is known about the obstacles to and the conditions for achieving successfully diverse campuses that can best prepare young Americans to live and work in an extremely multiracial future. Making decisions that will shape the future of America’s universities – the central institutions for economic and social mobility in this country – without drawing on the best research evidence from independent scholars would be deeply unfortunate.”
Patricia Marin is a researcher and lecturer in the Gevirtz School and associate director of the UC Educational Evaluation Center (UCEC). She studies issues of inclusion and equity in higher education for underrepresented students. In particular, her work examines issues of diversity, affirmative action, and college access. Before joining the Gevirtz School, she worked for The Civil Rights Project (CRP) at Harvard University and the American Council on Education in Washington, DC. She is coeditor of Realizing Bakke’s Legacy: Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity, and Access to Higher Education (with C. L. Horn, Stylus, 2008), Higher Education and the Color Line (with G. Orfield and C. L. Horn, Harvard Education Press, 2005), and Moving Beyond Gratz and Grutter: The Next Generation of Research (with M. Moses, 2006), a special issue of Educational Researcher, which received the Outstanding Publication Award of the American Educational Research Association’s Division J (Higher Education).
John T. Yun is an Associate Professor in the Department of Education, the director of the University of California Educational Evaluation Center (UCEC), and a former high school science teacher. His training – culminating in an Ed.D. from Harvard University – is in educational policy using both economic and quantitative methodologies. Dr. Yun’s research focuses on issues of equity and evaluation in education, specifically: patterns of school segregation; the effects of school context on educational outcomes; the importance of evaluation to everyday school practice; and the educative/counter-educative impacts of high-stakes testing.