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April 11, 2019
ABC News, The Chronicle of Higher Education
The U.S. Department of Education recently closed an investigation into Texas Tech's affirmative action processes that resulted in the university's School of Medicine signing an agreement that it would not consider race in making admissions decisions. Though the agreement has worried other universities and education stakeholders regarding the diversity of their classes, EducationCounsel Managing Partner and Co-Founder Art Coleman says that it can't trump decades of Supreme Court precedent.
"We are sitting on top of 40 years of U.S. Supreme Court precedent. It gives us very clear guidance on how to pursue diversity goals that may be associated with race. The department hasn't, nor could it, overrule that guidance or those foundations," Coleman told ABC News. "For institutions that are actually doing the right thing, taking the right steps, they should feel well armed."
The investigation was opened in 2005 when Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity, which The Chronicle of Higher Education refers to as "a conservative think tank," filed a complaint regarding Texas Tech’s admissions process. Though the university believed it was compliant in its admissions practices, they have signed an agreement to explore race-neutral options until they can provide "a reasoned, principled explanation for its decision (to consider race) and identify concrete and precise goals."
Coleman told The Chronicle of Higher Education that this is only one case and is unlikely to have much impact on other schools and universities that may fear vulnerability after the decision. “I think it’s prudent — given what we know about what this administration has said and done — to raise flags on issues of racial diversity ... you’ve got to take every case on its own merits,” he said.
Before co-founding and managing EducationCounsel, Coleman served as deputy assistant secretary for the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights under the Clinton Administration. He has an extensive background in providing legal, policy, strategic planning, and advocacy services to educators nationwide.
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