So Much for the Mismatch Theory

In 2005 Richard Sander of UCLA wrote an article in the Stanford Law Review, which claimed that black students were being admitted in large numbers to law schools where they could not compete with white students. Sander concluded that these affirmative action admissions programs actually led to a decrease in the number of black attorneys. His reasoning was that if black students were denied admission to the top schools, they would enroll at lower-tier law schools where they would be successful and go on to pass the bar.

In rebutting the Sander thesis, JBHE produced data showing that the black student graduation rate at many of the nation’s high-ranking law schools was 90 percent or more. Also, the black student graduation rate at these schools was in most cases equal to or very close to the graduation rate of white students.

Now the right-wing Center for Equal Opportunity has obtained data showing that from 2003 to 2005, 45 percent of the black students admitted to George Mason University School of Law had grade point averages that placed them in “academic failure.” For other students at the law school, only 4 percent had such low grade point averages.

But the Center for Equal Opportunity fails to disclose that the number of black students involved is so low that no statistically relevant conclusions can be drawn. In both 2004 and 2005 there were only seven black first-year students at the law school.

Also, the Center for Equal Opportunity has cherry-picked the years that best support its political agenda. The law school reports that since that time, 21 black first-year students have enrolled, 8 in 2006 and 13 last year. And only one of these 21 black students has failed academically. Therefore, more than 95 percent of the black students are succeeding at the law school.

It is unfortunate that the right wing, and sometimes racist organizations, indulge in statistical deception to advance an agenda to hold blacks in place.