not so fast, 80-20: asian americans and race-conscious admissions policies

This week, in anticipation of the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education and National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education released policy papers examining Asian American support for race-conscious admissions policies.

Both papers cite multiple surveys of Asian Americans that consistently demonstrate that a majority of Asian Americans oppose abolishing race-conscious admissions policies: The Majority of Asian Americans Support Race-Conscious Admissions Policies.

More importantly, the papers call bullshit on the political action group 80-20 National Education Foundation, who recently filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court claiming that Asian Americans oppose affirmative action by a ratio of 52:1, based on the results of a bullshit web survey. Yes, I said bullshit twice. From AALDEF's press release:
Given this data's consistency, the APAHE paper finds "frankly impossible" the claim of political action group 80-20 National Education Foundation (80-20) that Asian American respondents oppose affirmative action by a ratio of 52:1. 80-20, which filed its own amicus brief opposing race-conscious policies in Fisher, bases these claims on a web survey it sponsored. Ethical and research flaws leading to the lopsided results - including 80-20's political bias and "unethical practice" of publicizing the full name and race of all participants on its website -- are detailed in both papers.

According to the Federal Judicial Center's (the research and education agency for the federal courts) Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence cited in the APAHE paper, "self-selected pseudosurveys resemble reader polls published in magazines and do not meet standard criteria for legitimate surveys admissible in court."

"As someone who has long championed and advocated for the rights of Asian Americans in higher education, I am deeply concerned about 80-20's position on this issue," said Dr. Bob Suzuki, President Emeritus of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. "Based on my experience in higher education for some 33 years, I know that race-conscious policies have provided greater equal opportunity for the vast majority of Asian Americans, not only for students, but also for faculty and staff. As the APAHE and CARE papers indicate, 80-20's arguments are seriously flawed and must be challenged."
I've had a hard time taking 80-20 seriously since... well, I don't think I've ever taken them seriously. For an organization that claims to be "dedicated to winning equal opportunity and justice for all Asian Americans" they've never done a damn thing to represent my interests.

Whatever influence 80-20 wields seems to be based on ridiculous claims that it has 700,000 supporters, which I suspect is mainly comprised of people who involuntarily ended up on the group's fantastically annoying email list. If you are Asian American, and have been using email over the last decade, it's likely you've been hounded by unwanted emails from 80-20 at some point.

This is way too complicated of an issue to let misinformation and bad data steer the conversation. 80-20 can suck it. Read the rest of AALDEF's press release here. Download the APAHE paper here and download the CARE paper here.

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