Losing Ground?
Educators fear small gains of affirmative action are under threat from reverse-discrimination lawsuits.

In 2003, in its first ruling on affirmative action since 1978, the Supreme Court affirmed in its University of Michigan Law School decision that diversity in the classroom, in and of itself, is a compelling state interest that warrants special intervention. This fall, the court will hear two cases challenging affirmative action programs in secondary schools.

Researchers and administrators fear that in today's political climate, with challenges on the rise, the small gains that have been made in minority representation in science, technology, engineering, and math are under threat.

In recent years a number of reverse-discrimination lawsuits have been filed against "pipeline" programs designed to increase participation of minorities in the sciences. Earlier this year, for example, Southern Illinois University opened to all students three graduate fellowship programs previously reserved for women and minority students-including...

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