Affirmative Action Policy in American Education

Introduction

The affirmative action policy advocates for the rights of the minority groups in the United States. The minority groups include women, American Indians, Native Americans, and African Americans. The affirmative policy emanated from the civil rights movement of the 1960s, which aimed at empowering the social, political, and economic conditions of the minorities. In the social aspect, the affirmation action seeks to empower the minorities and ensure that they receive equal chances in the education system (Sowell, 2005).

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The affirmative action policy advocates for fair treatment to all citizens of the United States. On the other hand, educational philosophies champion for the different subjects and values that various schools of thought consider as essential in the education system. Therefore, the research paper examines the affirmation action as an existing educational policy in the United States to consider its implications, considers the influence of beliefs, and elucidates philosophies and theories that support it.

Implications of the Affirmative Action

The affirmative action policy plays an important role in the education system as it ensures that the minority groups in the United States, which have endured discrimination due to their race, gender, or ethnic background, enjoy the rights and opportunities they have never enjoyed before. Some of the groups that have experienced discrimination in the United States include women, African Americans, Native Americans, and American Indians.

Affirmative action policy often puts its emphasis on education and employment. According to Anderson (2004), affirmative action policy in schools ensures that students enjoy the right to quality education in any American school irrespective of their gender, race, or ethnicity. The affirmative action policy emanated from the civil rights movement of the 1960s and has continued to advocate for the rights of the minority communities or groups in the United States.

The affirmative action policy will increase the number of students from the minority groups who are applying for colleges and universities in all parts of the United States. The policy will initiate a double or triple application of students to schools, colleges, and universities. The double or triple applications will be due to the equal provision of opportunities to everybody in the United States, including the previously underrepresented minorities.

Thus, the affirmative action policy will help reduce the level of discrimination accorded to Americans from different races, gender, and ethnic backgrounds, and thus, provide equal educational opportunities to all school and college students (Gohen & Hanft, 2004). The ultimate result of equal chances of education for students will be increased chances of employment in prosperous companies and improved living standards.

The United States’ affirmative action policy will also help in empowering the minorities, which will make the majority of communities in the United States understand that all students are capable of doing well in school regardless of their gender, race, or ethnicity. Additionally, empowerment requires educational campaigns targeted at both the minorities and privileged citizens of the United States.

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Fischer (2010) argues that minorities will be educated on the importance of appreciating and respecting their personalities, developing a sense of pride, and improving their self-esteem. On the other hand, the privileged members of the United States will be educated on the importance of equality between them and the minority groups. The affirmative policy of the United States should be in a position to educate the individuals on the benefits that accrue from appreciating one another.

Philosophy, Beliefs, and General Approach to Policy

The philosophy that affirmative action hinges upon is equality among students. Since the education system seeks to provide a quality education that is affordable and accessible, affirmative action provides a way of attaining equality. The affirmative action policy seeks to increase the opportunities for minority communities and enhances cultural diversity among educational institutions and working environments. Encouragement of citizens to appreciate and consider minorities during employment and scholarship provision are some of the rights that the affirmative policy aims to achieve. Thus, minorities are gradually gaining considerable bargaining power in the United States.

Furthermore, the affirmative action policy encourages the government to initiate plans and policies that encourage American citizens to create opportunities for minorities (Anderson, 2004). Through employment, more Americans from minority groups can apply for education in colleges and universities and receive a quality education. Parents are in the position of taking their children to good schools in all parts of the United States. Therefore, the primary objective of the affirmative action policy is to encourage minority communities to acquire education as a strategy of empowering themselves in social, economic, and politic aspects.

The belief of justice and fairness makes the affirmative action an appropriate policy of enhancing justice in the education system. The policy encourages fair and equal treatment of all students without considering their gender, race, or ethnicity. The affirmative action policy rectifies gaps and negative constructs brought about by discrimination. Also, the affirmative action policy reduces cases of discrimination, which have to lead to domination by other social groups, while others experience oppression.

According to Weisskopkf (2004), the only factor that teachers and the education system should use in selecting students in the learning institutions is the educational performance, but not a race, gender, and ethnicity. Hence, the affirmative action policy of the United States enables teachers to understand that all students have the equal understanding and learning abilities. Therefore, teachers should treat the students equally and accord them the same respect.

The belief that the education system shapes students and improves their cognitive capacity is a central tenet in education. Affirmative action should be in a position to increase the performance of all the students. Performance only increases when the students from minority groups understand that they have equal learning opportunities, as well as the same capabilities to develop their careers. The result of enhanced understanding is increased self-esteem among the students and ultimately their progress in class together with their counterparts (Lauri & Johnson, 2011).

In this view, the affirmative action policy will help students from the middle and low social-economic classes to pursue their education goals without undue discrimination. Moreover, the policy ensures that both the minorities and other citizens in the United States who do not belong to the minority category understand that success and good performance in school are not factors that are measured by the skin color or gender of an individual. In contrast, the policy will facilitate the citizens of the United States to realize that the performance of students is dependent on intelligence, but not color or gender.

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Since the philosophy of idealism holds on to the notion that people have refined wisdom and understanding, it clearly outlines the fact that race, gender, or ethnicity do not influence the capacities of individuals. Idealistic philosophy explains that what people consider as real is what is in their minds. According to Moran (2004), the philosophy of idealism envisions a society that is diverse and free from any form of discrimination because people have equal rights and capacities to engage in all activities.

Therefore, the philosophy encourages students to behave in ways that demonstrate virtues such as integrity, honesty, respect, truthfulness, veracity, and honor. Students who acquire such virtues will exhibit excellent behavior patterns, and thus refrain from exercising any kind of discrimination against their colleagues. Thus, the idealism compels individuals and society to shape social constructs and eliminate discrimination in learning institutions.

Influence of the Philosophies and Social Theories

Philosophical theories highlight that affirmative action policy is instrumental in addressing discrimination and unfair treatment, which are forms of injustices committed against minorities, and thus demand the right type of compensation from the perpetrators. Affirmative action calls for compensatory justice for minorities or communities, which have experienced the challenges associated with discrimination based on race, gender, or ethnicity. According to Irzik and Nola (2006), the policy calls for fair and just compensation by the state. Just like any other injustices that are solvable through compensation, discrimination requires compensation.

Effective compensation strategies will help address the problems and challenges linked to discrimination, especially of minorities like American Indians, African Americans, Native Americans, and women to prevent future occurrences. Therefore, compensatory justice is a philosophical ideology behind affirmative action in the education system.

Consequentialism philosophy is also applicable in the implementation of the affirmative action. Proponents of consequentialism philosophy expect acts to produce favorable results, and hence, they emphasize the outcomes of activities (Sahu, 2002). Therefore, in enhancing the role and vitality of affirmative action policy, proponents of consequentialism hold the belief that discrimination is an unethical act because it leads to negative outcomes. From the perspective of consequentiality, affirmative action policy is an important policy as it produces positive outcomes. According to Sahu (2002), the theory of consequentialism views the worth of an activity or a policy as dependent on the magnitude of the positive outcomes that it generates. Thus, the more positive outcomes some acts or policies have, the more ethical they are.

The affirmative action policy also applies utilitarianism, which is a philosophy and a theory that advocates for equality. Utilitarianism theory explains that a policy should have the capacity of yielding maximum benefits and minimum losses, which is a utility principle (Sowell, 2005). Through this provision of maximizing utility, the theory advocates for those activities or policies, which yield benefits and happiness to the community or society.

Since discrimination has negative results and increases suffering among victims, it fails to meet the requirement of utilitarian theory. Hence, strong beliefs in theories and philosophies such as utilitarianism make an individual, society, and the education system support and advocate for the adoption and the implementation of the affirmative action policy (Ganihar & Belagalli, 2008). Consequently, the implementation of the affirmative policy results in enhanced justice and treatment of students from minority groups.

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Conclusion

The affirmative action policy of the United States plays a significant role as it creates a society that perceives diversity as an asset rather than a burden because it aims at eliminating discrimination against minorities such as American Indians, African Americans, Native Americans, and women. The policy champions for increased opportunities for the minorities and encourages employers, including the government, to consider minority groups in their recruitment plans. Some of the provisions that the United States’ affirmative action policy advocates for are the equal chances and opportunities, empowerment of the minorities, reduction of discrimination, and fair treatment. Philosophies such as consequentialism, utilitarianism, and idealism advocate for the adoption and the application of affirmative action policy by encouraging the practice of values such as integrity, truth, and good behavior.

References

Anderson, T. (2004). The Pursuit of Fairness: A History of Affirmative Action. New York: Oxford University Press.

Fischer, K. (2010). Advantages and Controversy of the United States Affirmative Action. New York: GRIN Verlag.

Ganihar, N., & Belagalli, D. (2008). Educational Philosophy of Dr. Zakir Husain. New Delhi: Global Vision Publishing.

Gohen, A., & Hanft, S. (2004). Technology in American Health Care: Policy Directions for effective Evolution Management. Michigan: University of Michigan.

Irzik, G., & Nola, R. (2006). Philosophy, Science, Education and Culture. New York: Springer.

Lauri, J., & Johnson, R. (2011). Multicultural Education Philosophy in Canada and the United States. Toronto: UBC Press.

Moran, D. (2004). The Philosophy of John Scottus Eriugena: A Study of Idealism in the Middle Ages. London: Cambridge University Press.

Sahu, B. (2002). New educational philosophy. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons.

Sowell, T. (2005). Affirmative Action around the World: An Empirical Study. London: Yale University Press.

Weisskopkf, T. (2004). Affirmative Action in the United States and India: A Comparative Perspective. New York: Routledge.

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