Mass Communication, Living in a Media World

Chapter 6. The Struggle for Equal Rights

Take a Position

Scenario One
Read "Who Are We? Education in America." The data clearly show that disparities exist in education. One possible solution to eliminate the disparities is affirmative action.

Take a position: Should government implement affirmative action programs in college and university admissions to help eliminate education disparities between racial and ethnic groups?



As you develop your argument, answer the following questions:

    • What factors account for these disparities in education? Think in terms of geography, economics, and community characteristics.
    • How can these disparities be eliminated? Whose job is it to eliminate these disparities? Government? Universities? Individuals?
    • Based on what you have read in the chapter, what arguments are given by supporters of affirmative action programs? Why are affirmative action programs so controversial? How do affirmative action programs fit into American political culture?

Scenario Two
Your text explains how three levels of scrutiny exist for laws that treat people differently due to their being members of a certain group. Laws that treat people differently due to race are subject to strict scrutiny by the Supreme Court. Laws that treat people differently due to gender are subject to an intermediate standard of review. Finally, laws that treat people differently due to sexual orientation, age, or handicapped status must meet a minimum rationality test.

Take a position: Is it right that we have three different standards for laws that treat people differently? Is there merit to the argument that any law that treats people differently due to membership in a certain group should be subject to strict scrutiny? Does the historical impact of prejudice and slavery lead you to conclude that the current tests are acceptable and just?



Develop your argument by making two lists: one for why the current three levels of scrutiny should continue to exist and one for why the current three levels should be eradicated. What did you conclude?

Scenario Three
In today’s political climate, many people contend that individuals who want to become U.S. citizens should have to pass an English fluency test.

Take a position: Do you agree with this argument? Why or why not?



As you develop your argument, answer the following questions:

    • If you are inclined to say yes, people should have to pass an English fluency test in order to become U.S. citizens, how difficult should the test be? A sixth-grade level? Should it be the same standardized English test that students in the state have to pass in order to graduate from high school (e.g.,, the MCAS test in Massachusetts)?
    • If you are inclined to say no, should these same individuals have to pass an English test to obtain a driver’s license? To obtain government benefits?