The premise of Affirmative Action: desegregation and equality for all through aid to minorities and women based on race and gender is rooted on a noble concept. However, since the 1960s and the Civil Rights era, this "concept" has lost its direction. Although created with the intention to enable minorities and women equal opportunities as their dominant (white male) counterparts, many Americans may feel that Affirmative Action is " a regulatory structure to be dismantled more then a vision to be fulfilled (Horner, 3)." Does Affirmative Action today help or hinder the groups for which it was intended, or is it no longer needed?

In the beginning, many minorities and woman benefited greatly from the statutes of Affirmative Action. According to a "directive governing the federal government’s collection of racial statistics…OMB Directive 15 (Horner, 4)" more ethnic groups were able to gain access to higher education at more competitive institutions based on racial census and relation. However, there were no mechanisms in place to improve the poor public school curriculum at the primary and secondary levels. Therefore, although given an "opportunity" to attend a better college, many, not all, socioeconomic and ethnically disadvantaged students were doomed to fail because they were not equipped with comparable academic fundamentals prior to entering college as their white male counterparts, thus, adding to the soaring rate of minority drop-outs as Freshmen and Sophomores. This also causes a decrease in minority applicants due to the fear of failure, and a waste of monetary resources. Is it naïve to believe that the government could not foresee this effect? I would disagree. The government was under a moral obligation to act because American history has deemed minorities and women as exploited and disadvantaged, while their dominant opposites have been deemed privileged and in power.

Therefore, one could argue that it is the intent that counts, but in some instances the effects carry negative, and often irreversible, burdens. Instead of sacrificing a few thousand minority drop-outs for "the cause", the government should concentrate on improving education at the lower level which would empower all groups to compete on a more comparable and fair level. The ride in the drop-out rate and the decrease in minority applicants continues across America’s college campuses.

In addition to the idea of offering better higher education to minorities as before mentioned, some also feel that with education would come an increased awareness in gender inequities in our society among women, as well as white males. Our history illustrates that women’s rights in America before the Civil Rights period was limited. Women relied heavily on males to provide for them, and "had been traditionally excluded from advanced education (Kane, 78)." As years passed, women gained all rights originally bestowed unto white men only. But unfair preferences remained across genders. Thus, Affirmative Action was also designed toward the advancement of women of all races and ethnic backgrounds, particularly in the work place. One of the effects of this is the growth in the number of female enrollment in colleges in the United States. Since this time, women have advanced tremendously and have become more financially independent; no longer solely dependent on men to survive. Thus, it is my opinion that women today have become more career oriented and competitive. Education not only exposed men and women to the injustices against the female gender, but it gave men and women alike a stronger sense of individuality. In Kane’s "Education and Beliefs About Gender Inequities" she sites Jackman and Muha as stating, "education cannot be seen as a liberating

agent, since it does not release people from the concerns and interests imposed by the social fabric, nor does it render people insensitive to those interests (Kane, 76: Jackman and Muhu, 1984:752)." As women struggle to become equal to men in the work place, they are becoming more aware of their individual goals and accomplishments, thus better able to advance on their own merits.

Furthermore, through education, more individuals across races and genders have become less supportive of Affirmative Action, encouraging individual merit instead. Hoerner cites, "Polls defining affirmative action as racial preferences show overwhelming rejection (in the neighborhood of 75 percent) and an almost equal split for and against among blacks (46 percent for, 52 percent against…)." Although