Skip to main content

Affirmative Action Laws and Their Effects

Diversifying the Teacher Workforce, the Origins of Affirmative Action

As debate over affirmative action continues, IPR sociologist Anthony Chen is working to chronicle its social, political, and intellectual origins in college admissions. With New York University’s Lisa Stulberg, Chen is completing a book manuscript that illustrates how affirmative action originated as college and university leaders drew inspiration from the civil rights movement. These leaders also sought new ways to racially integrate the Northern, Midwestern, and Western universities over which they presided in the early 1960s. Through extensive archival research, the book will help to clarify the circumstances under which affirmative action emerged and developed in the United States. Chen hopes that having a clear understanding of the past will help policymakers make sound decisions about affirmative action policy today—and in the future.

Court-Ordered Hiring of Teachers

Can hiring guidelines increase the share of African American teachers? In an IPR working paper, former IPR graduate research assistant Cynthia (CC) DuBois and Schanzenbach examine a 1969 court-ordered hiring mandate in Louisiana’s Tangipahoa Parish, which was finally enforced in 2010. They find the policy significantly increased the share of African American teachers in the district, which rose 2 to 5.6 percentage points in the five years after the policy’s enactment. The policy also decreased the student-teacher representation gap, measured as the difference in enrollment share among African American students and teachers. DuBois and Schanzenbach outline how this increase in the share of African American teachers held across both predominantly white and predominantly African American schools in the district. They call for further research into the potential effects of “soft” versus “hard” affirmative action policies to diversify the teacher workforce. DuBois passed away in January 2018 as a result of brain cancer.