Episode

2/6 How Higher Ed Re-Segregates w/ Gary Orfield

February 6, 2023

Sam and Emma host Gary Orfield, professor and co-director of the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, to discuss his recent book The Walls around Opportunity: The Failure of Colorblind Policy for Higher Education. First, Emma and Sam run through updates on the US shooting down China’s spy balloon, the Democratic base’s low enthusiasm on another Biden presidential run, the DNC overhauling their primary schedule, various GOP-run states figuring out how to crack down on drag shows and the establishments that host them, the Koch brand lining up behind Trump’s primary challengers, and Florida’s focus on teenage periods, before parsing through the destruction wrought in Turkey this weekend with a massive 7.8 earthquake. Professor Gary Orfield then joins as he dives into the evolution of the role of race consciousness in college admissions, beginning in the wake of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which saw the federal government join with students and the general public to push higher education towards integration, employing policies of race consciousness and affirmative action that would actively push against the inherent biases of the admission process, all steering US universities to a near-balance between the demographics of their students and the US population writ large by the end of the 1970s. After exploring how the Reagan Administration and neoliberal shift of the ‘80s heavily undermined poverty-specific policies like the Pell Grants while shifting the tax burden from the public to families as they cut federal funding, Professor Orfield walks through the post-Reagan challenges to affirmative action on the Supreme Court, with three cases between Michigan and UT over the first two decades of the 21st Century, moving into the upcoming cases with Harvard and UNC, which all focus on the same issue of whether active race-conscious admissions are actively conscious about race. Wrapping up the interview, Gary explores the main impacts on higher ed that we could see with an undermining of affirmative action, particularly as policy would move to the states, and tackles the importance of a bottom-up approach to solving the crisis of higher education in the US, ensuring students coming from marginalized communities are provided appropriate collegiate preparation, alongside overhauling the cost of college and university to open them up to lower-income folks, and a readdress the influence of biases in the admissions process.

And in the Fun Half: Sam and Emma cover the right’s clamor over whether ignoring the Chinese War Balloon or shooting it down is more of a sign of a declining American empire, Tom from Columbus talks Ben Rhodes and putting pressure on politicians, Max from Bergen county discusses leveraging the death penalty to reduce traffic violations, and Charlie Kirk takes aim at AOC, calling code-switching, “rhetorical blackface.” Jack from Boston explores pushback on the Supreme Court from legal institutions, and Sam from New College in Sarasota Florida dives into Ron DeSantis’ and Chris Rufo’s attempted infiltration of her college, and the grounding of the attack in bigotry from racism to transphobia. Jack from Louisville walks through LMPD’s stonewalling of any accountability measures, Vato T from Washington takes on education, class, and affirmative action, George Santos moves his grift from Drag Race to Broadway, and Matt Schlapp lashes out at supposed “reporters” for “reporting” on his “reported” abuse, plus, your calls and IMs!

Check out Gary’s book here: https://press.princeton.edu/books/hardcover/9780691227412/the-walls-around-opportunity

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