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BOOKS WORTH READING

(Listed in order of publication)

Coleman, James S. et al. 1966. Equality of Educational Opportunity. Two volumes. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. OE 38001. Based on a survey covering 570,000 pupils, 60,000 teachers, and 4,000 schools. Documented substantial differences in the median test scores of Majority, Negro, Oriental, Mexican, Indian and Puerto Rican Americans at the 1st and 12th grade levels. Concluded, contrary to expectation, that differences in school quality had little effect on individual achievement. (For more data from the book, see my rebuttal to the LSAC Bakke brief on this website.)

Fullinwider, Robert K. 1980. The Reverse Discrimination Controversy: A Moral and Legal Analysis. Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield. Clear, straightforward, well reasoned. Moral philosophy as it should be, but rarely is. Inquires whether there is a right not to suffer racial discrimination; also, whether there is a right to receive racial preference as compensation for past discrimination. Notes the social benefits and harms to be expected from continuing the policies of racial preference.

Graham, Hugh Davis. 1990. The Civil Rights Era: Origins and Development of National Policy 1960-1972. New York: Oxford University Press. A comprehensive, invaluable history. Covers the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Open Housing Act of 1968, and the public pressures that produced them. Emphasizes the role of administrative agencies (the "permanent government") in interpreting and enforcing the new laws. Traces the evolution of national policy from barring discrimination against individuals to fostering equal group results.

Nieli, Russell (ed.). 1991. Racial Preference and Racial Justice: The New Affirmative Action Controversy. Washington, D.C.: Ethics and Public Policy Center. Simply the best anthology, in book form, of arguments for and against racial preference: On the Supreme Court, by Justices Douglas, Brennan, Marshall, Burger, Stewart, Powell, Rehnquist, Blackmun, Stevens, O'Connor, and Scalia. In the media, by Nathan Glazer, Morris Abram, Randall Kennedy, Charles Krauthammer, Charles Murray, Ronald Dworkin, Derek Bok, Thomas Sowell, William Raspberry, Glenn Lowry, and others.

Jencks, Christopher. 1992. Rethinking Social Policy: Race, Poverty, and the Underclass. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Thoughtful, deft, wide-ranging, empirical analysis. Beginning with affirmative action policies, the book then treats their economic and social context in chapters on The Safety Net; Heredity, Inequality, and Crime; Making Sense of Urban Ghettos; Is the American Underclass Growing?; and Reforming Welfare. Responds to books by Thomas Sowell, Charles Murray, Richard Herrnstein/James Wilson, and William Julius Wilson.

Kull, Andrew. 1992. The Color-Blind Constitution. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. The historical relationship between the principle of no difference in treatment based on race and the U.S. Constitution. Written with clarity and grace. Traces the origin of the color-blind principle in abolitionist petitions (1840s), the failed attempt to incorporate it explicitly in the Constitution (1860s), Supreme Court decisions allowing different treatment when not unequal (1880-1954), a quasi color-blind jurisprudence (1954-1965), and the acceptance of "benign," race-based unequal treatment (1965- ).

Herrnstein, Richard J. and Murray, Charles. 1994. The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life. The Free Press: New York. Culturally dissident views carefully argued and beautifully presented. Urges the importance of intelligence, measured by IQ testing, as a variable in predicting educational, economic and social achievement, and anti-social conduct. Documents the substantial gap between white and black IQ scores. Confronts the question whether the gap is due entirely to environment or partly to genes, covering evidence for both positions, but tilting toward the latter.

Cohen, Carl. 1995. Naked Racial Preference. Lanham, Md.: Madison Books. A collection of essays, each first published in response to a Supreme Court case on racial preference, by a philosophy professor passionately committed to the racial nondiscrimination principle. Legal issues, and their moral implications, which in other hands might seem impossibly technical or complex, are rendered plain by analysis that is stubbornly concrete, logical and fair.

Thernstrom, Stephan and Thernstrom, Abigail. 1997. America in Black and White: One Nation, Indivisible. New York: Simon and Schuster. Ranks with Gunnar Myrdal's The American Dilemma as one of the 20th Century's finest studies of the status of black Americans. Packed with economic and social data, recent and historical, excellently organized and presented. Advocates better k-12 education, rather than racial preference in higher education and employment, as the road to further progress.

Bowen, William G. and Bok, Derek. 1998. The Shape of the River: Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. A study of 62,000 white and black students who attended 28 selective colleges. After calculating the percentage of black students who would not have been accepted under race-neutral admissions, the study compares the undergraduate, graduate, and career attainments of the two racial groups, arguing that preferential admissions has benefited the recipients, their schools and the country. A detailed summary and a critique of the study appear on this website.

Jencks, Christopher and Phillips, Meredith (Eds.). 1998. The Black-White Test Score Gap. Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution. Documents the white-black gap as measured by six large national surveys, beginning with the Equality of Educational Opportunity survey of 1964 and continuing through the National Assessment of Educational Progress survey of 1992. Fifteen chapters by two dozen authors assess the importance of the gap and examine possible causes, including genes, school quality, parental education and income, pre-school home environment, cultural patterns, peer pressure, teacher expectations, "stereotype threat."

Cohen, Carl and Sterba, James P. 2003. Affirmative Action and Racial Preference: A Debate. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press. Carl Cohen, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan, contends that racial preferences in university admissions are morally wrong, explicitly banned by the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, and forbidden by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. James P. Sterba, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, responds that affirmative action as racial preference is legal, constitutional and necessary for achieving a racially just society.

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