ACTFL Statement on SCOTUS Decisions to Strike Down Race-Based Policies in College Admissions


ACTFL expresses deep disappointment and concern regarding the recent decision by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), in which it ruled that colleges and universities can no longer consider race in the admissions decision-making process. Ignoring decades of judicial precedent, the decisions rendered in both Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina pose a grave threat to the future of the language educator pipeline and significantly undermines this nation’s ability to create a more equitable education system and society.

We know that there are numerous obstacles that are preventing many, especially those from the most marginalized and underrepresented communities, from pursuing higher education, leading to inequitable access to certified and experienced teachers.[1] We also know that students benefit from a more diverse educator workforce in the form of increased learner outcomes and higher levels of empathy and cross-cultural understanding.[2] Without such diversity, the educational experience of all students suffers.

ACTFL believes that our language classrooms should reflect the diversity of our society, and hindering the ability of colleges and universities to ensure more inclusive campus communities is a mistake. It ignores generations of systemic racism, historical disadvantages, and unfair and unnecessary barriers faced by those in this country who historically have been most underrepresented and underserved. Preventing colleges and universities the ability to consider race in admissions decisions shuts yet another door to opportunity for a large swath of our society.

Given this decision, it’s now more important than ever for colleges and universities to be reflective and find innovative ways to prioritize the creation of inclusive campus communities and the promotion of empathy and cross-cultural understanding. ACTFL will continue to advocate for policies consistent with our values that help ensure a well-prepared, diverse, and highly effective language educator workforce and invites colleges and universities to do the same. While this SCOTUS decision is clearly a setback, it is our collective responsibility to continue to fight for equitable educational opportunities for all.

[1] Cardichon, J., Darling-Hammond, L., Yang, M., Scott, C., Shields, P. M., & Burns, D. (2020). Inequitable opportunity to learn: Student access to certified and experienced teachers. Learning Policy Institute.

[2] Carver-Thomas, D. (2018). Diversifying the teaching profession: How to recruit and retain teachers of color. Learning Policy Institute.