* colleges use affirmative action to mask how much they cater to the country club crowd and to solicit support from the big corporations they steer minority students toward;
* conservatives have used opposition to affirmative action to advance a broader agenda that includes gutting government programs that help level the playing field;
* selective colleges reward families for shielding their children from contact with other races and classes and help perpetuate societal discrimination by favoring applicants from expensive private schools or public schools in exclusive communities;
* racial tensions like those witnessed at Duke University, the University of Michigan, and scores of other campuses in recent decades are a direct result of college admissions policies;
* affirmative-action preferences for women and minorities may have survived recent court challenges, but in much of the nation they are unlikely to survive the forces of democracy; and
* regardless of what happens with affirmative action, African Americans are going to be denied equal access to colleges for many decades to come unless American society undergoes revolutionary change.
This is a startling, brave, and thoroughly researched book that will ignite a national debate on class and education for years to come.
Peter Schmidt is a deputy editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education, where he writes about affirmative action, state and federal higher-education policy, and historically black colleges and universities. He previously covered school desegregation, urban education, immigrant education, and education research for Education Week. He has also reported for the Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press, and has written for the Weekly Standard, Teacher Magazine, and Detroit Monthly. His work has won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Education Writers Association, the Virginia Press Association, and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. His coverage of affirmative action won a special citation in 2007 for beat reporting from the Education Writers Association. He lives in Washington, D.C.