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What Is Fair? High School Students Talk About Affirmative Action

Students at Northwood High School in Silver Spring, Md., have many opinions on the affirmative action debate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Elissa Nadworny
/
NPR
Students at Northwood High School in Silver Spring, Md., have many opinions on the affirmative action debate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Now that the Supreme Court is considering the issue of affirmative action in college admissions, all kinds of groups are weighing in. But we're not hearing from the people who will be most affected by the court's decision: college-bound teenagers.

The teenagers we talked to attend two suburban high schools near Washington, D.C.: One is majority black and the other school has a mix of Latino, black, white and Asian students. The 16- and 17-year-olds knew little or nothing about the case that's before the Supreme Court — Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin — or about Abigail Fisher, the young woman who sued the university back in 2008. Fisher was denied admission because, she argued, the university wanted more minorities and she was white.

So here's the question we asked the students:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elissa Nadworny reports on all things college for NPR, following big stories like unprecedented enrollment declines, college affordability, the student debt crisis and workforce training. During the 2020-2021 academic year, she traveled to dozens of campuses to document what it was like to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. Her work has won several awards including a 2020 Gracie Award for a story about student parents in college, a 2018 James Beard Award for a story about the Chinese-American population in the Mississippi Delta and a 2017 Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in innovation.
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